Round Top P2K SPS / OGUL / WSC / PYNSP / CS
Elephants Back P300 PD

Sat, May 31, 1997

With: Fred Weber
Kate Weber
Mark Weber
James Fan
Cindy Romer
Ming Siu
John Yong

Round Top
Elephants Back
Story Photos / Slideshow Map Profiles: 1 2
Round Top later climbed Fri, Mar 23, 2001
Elephants Back later climbed Fri, Mar 23, 2001

I got the idea to take a group of folks from work out for a one-night backpack trip to the Sierra. Although it was May, it had been a light snow year, and the snowpack was melting fast throughout the region. I had never been hiking out of Carson Pass, so I thought a short hike in to Lake Winnemucca would fit the bill nicely.

This was a large group, nine of us in all that headed out for Carson Pass early Saturday morning. There was Fred, wife Kate, and not-yet-8-months-old baby Mark, James and his girlfriend (wife, five years later) Cindy, John, Ming, Fernando, and a friend of Fred's whose name I can't remember. It was well before noon when we reached Carson Pass, snow still covering most of the ground. So much so that the entire hike in was on snow. Fortunately it was very firm and we had no postholing - otherwise it might have been somewhat disasterous with all our heavy packs and no snowshoes. Most amazing were Fred and Kate who brought their young son. Fred carried him on his back in a special pack purchased for just this purpose (as far as we know, it was the last overnight trip for Mark). Most of the rest of the group had never been backpacking, so this was quite the introduction. In fact it seems I could not have picked a more snow-covered location without going to higher elevations. We were lucky the hike in was not far - about two miles from Carson Pass. After about an hour and a half of hiking we reached Winnemucca Lake and set up camp.

Fred and his family (along with his friend) stayed in camp while the rest of us went out to check out Round Top in the early afternoon. We followed the trail (still covered in snow) up towards Round Top Lake. From there, only John and James accompanied me uphill to the saddle between Round Top and The Sisters. It was more arduous and exposed than John had expected, and once we reached the saddle he decided he'd had enough. So he hung out at the saddle while James and I continued towards the summit along the West Ridge. The climbing was rated class 3, but only some of it seemed a bit difficult. There was some route-finding to do and some sloped ledges covered with loose sand on the south-facing side to negotiate, but we managed well enough.

On the summit we congratulated ourselves - this was the first serious peak that James had climbed, and he had done so like a regular climber. We signed the register and took in the views, but due to windy conditions we didn't stay long. On the way down we picked up John who'd been patiently waiting for us and headed back to camp.

Once there, I still had some energy to explore further so decided to head to Elephants Back. Cindy had some energy remaining as well so she tagged along. It was a short hike, less than a mile from camp, with about 500ft of gain. Much of the snow had already melted off the Southwest Slopes that we climbed, and combined with a gentle gradient made for an easy and enjoyable hike. We arrived at the top not long before sunset and enjoyed the waning afternoon as the lights grew softer. Back at camp, Fred's friend revealed the 12-pack of tall, cold 16 ouncers that he'd packed in and stashed in the snow. Unfortunately there were very few beer drinkers amongst the crowd. I took one to make him feel better, but it didn't taste very refreshing in the breezy and cold camp. Red wine would have been a far better choice.

That night the wind picked up with a fury and shook the tents we slept in a great deal. Poor baby Mark found the ordeal frightful and cried through much of the night, and nothing the parents could do seemed to comfort him. The wind kept everyone but his poor parents from hearing him, so Fred and Kate were the only ones besides Mark to also sleep poorly.

By morning the wind had died down and the weather was warmer and more pleasant. Five of us took a short hike to Peak 9842ft, a short distance southeast of Winnimucca Lake. The climb was completely over snow but fun. I kicked steps in the steeper sections that the others used to climb like a ladder. Atop the ridge we took a long break to lie in the sun and enjoy the views. We glissaded down over 500ft on our way back down, a most enjoyable way to descend, and the first time any of the others had played this game. Shortly after returning to camp we packed up and headed back out to the trailhead.

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