Freel Peak P2K SPS / OGUL / PYNSP / WSC

Sat, Jun 20, 1998
Etymology Story Photos / Slideshow Map Profile
later climbed Sat, Apr 3, 2004

My younger brother Tom was getting married, so naturally there had to be a bachelor party. As best man it was supposed to be my responsibility to organize a bachelor party, but I really don't like them at all. Too much opportunity to get in trouble for too little gain. Happily his friend Chris is all about such parties and was more than happy to take over organizational duties. My role was to simply show and pay for the rental house - easy enough. They wanted to have a gambling junket, so chose a place on the Nevada side of South Lake Tahoe near the casinos. While I enjoy gambling some, I enjoy an opportunity to go hiking in such a setting even more.

The day we drove up it was afternoon before we had settled into the house. I used the half day remaining to hike a part of the Tahoe Rim Trail east of the pass atop Kingsbury Grade. It was a fine enough hike, but with only a couple of hours I had to cut it short and return after three or four miles.

There had been much alcohol consumption that night and the next morning there was no one who wanted to join me for climb of Freel Peak - no great surprise. I drove myself out to Pioneer Trail Rd, through a back road and a campground before coming to a locked gate near Saxon Creek. About 20% of the ground was still covered in snow. The gate was probably locked due to the snow/mud conditions - it is normally open for further travel in the summertime. I parked my car off to the side and hiked up the road that follows Trout Creek. Just before 7800ft and after about three miles I came to the second gate - this is the one I presumed marked how far one could normally drive in the summer. A mile further I left the road and headed left up the side canyon leading to the Northwest Ridge of Freel Peak - only 3,000ft to go! About halfway up the canyon the slopes were continuously covered in snow, a bit surprising for late June. The snow was soft enough to kick steps, and even without crampons I was able to make good progress.

The climb to the summit was mostly uneventful. I had recalled climbing Monument Peak (the highpoint of Heavenly Ski Area) ten years earlier and being surprised to see this higher peak to the south. Ever since then I had wanted to climb Freel (though you can see it wasn't high on the priority list), and this gave me some sense of accomplishment. I was surprised to see snowmobile tracks on the southeast side of the summit, apparently one can ride these all the way from highway 89 to the top. That made it seem more mundane and less interesting a peak - I hadn't considered that it was outside Wilderness areas. I returned the way I came, the descent hastened by some glissades in the steep canyon. It was some 7-8hrs for the roundtrip hike, a long day but not overly exhausting. This was probably a good thing, as there was some duties to perform at the bachelor party that night, and some gambling to do as well. Rough life.


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