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Monument Peak previously climbed Sat, Oct 8, 1988|
Day 3 of our father-daughter trip had us heading to Peak 9,614ft in the northernmost corner of Alpine County. It is located between Freel/Jobs to the south and Heavenly's Monument Peak to the north. After some research, I decided the easiest way to reach it would be from the Ski area to the north. It would also be the costliest way, more so than I had planned. The gondola/chairlift would do most of the heavy work, bringing us 3,400ft up the mountain and saving quite a few miles. That would run about $100 for the two of us. Not wanting to pay $20 for parking, I took a chance and parked in the Raley's lot next door, even though it was well-signed for 2hr parking. What I didn't count on was that the parking enforcement was done by the state's dept of parks and recreation. That would result in a $200 citation upon our return. Oh well, win some, lose some.
The gondola doesn't open to the public until 9:30a so we had some time to kill when we arrived early. The last downhill ride on the chairlift is scheduled for 3:00p. That would leave us about 5hrs to make the six mile roundtrip to our peak. It was certainly doable, but we would not be able to dally about. We were one of the first parties in line when they opened the gondola. We took it to its end at the Tamarack Lodge area, then were the first party on and off the Tamarack chairlift, taking us to over 9,700ft. This would bring us within 2/3mi of Monument Peak (the day's bonus summit) with only 300ft of gain remaining.
We exited the chairlift at 10a, then followed the road (serving as trail) to the southeast and south. Ropes and signs cordon off the terrain to either side of the road network - cross-country travel is not allowed. Apparently you are allowed to hike only within the ski area and only along marked roads and trails. Jackie wasn't happy when I told her we needed to violate policy to reach either of our peaks, but she followed me past one of the signs as we left the road to hike up the sandy slopes towards Monument Peak to the east. With some easy scrambling on granite blocks towards the summit, we reached the highpoint by 10:30a. Really nice views from the top, though more haze than we had the previous two days. Lake Tahoe dominates to the north, Desolation Wilderness and the Crystal Range to the west, Carson Valley in Nevada to the east, and the higher summits of Freel/Jobs/Jobs Sister to the south. A plastic water bottle served as a register, its lid broken off and a mash of crumpled pages stuffed inside. I felt a little summit cleaning was in order and tossed the mess into my pack.
Now for the fun part. We had to descend 1,200ft off the southeast side of Monument in order to reach a saddle with Peak 9,614ft and the Tahoe Rim Trail. I let Jackie know that the really hard part was going to be on the way back up so that if she wanted to bow out, now might be the time to do it. She was game, and followed me off Monument. It would take only about 20min to make the descent, the route chosen to maximize the amount of sand boot skiing. There's a mix of sand, forest, low scrub, pine needles and granite rocks to work through, none terribly difficult. Jackie was realizing just how much a thousand-foot descent entails and was not too excited about the return, commenting at one point, "I might not be in a good mood later..."
There is a transmission line running southwest to northeast across the saddle. An old road shown on the topo map, is no longer open to the public and doesn't look to get any utility traffic, either. We found our way to the TRT which also crosses over this saddle before traversing across the west side of Peak 9,614ft. We followed the trail for about a mile before I announced it was time to head cross-country for the second peak. Jackie would have been happy to ply the trail for hours, but the sandy cross-country was not much to her liking. "How far up do we go?" It's about 800ft above the trail, but not really sure at the time, I guessed it was about 1,000ft. Jackie decided to save her energy for the climb back up Monument. She had brought a book along for just this contingency. So she went back along the trail to find a shady spot to nap and read while Dad headed up, telling her to expect him in about an hour.
I switched into solo mode at this point, no more rest stops and a pretty healthy pace. The peak was about 2/3mi away and it would take me just under half an hour to make it to the top. It was noon, giving us about 3hrs to get back to the chairlift by the 3p deadline. I quickly snapped some pictures and photographed the pages of a register I found left just below the highest rock. It had been left by Tom Roundtee in 2001 with less than 10 pages of entries, about one party per year. I followed an alternate return to the trail, one that involved more sand and less scrambling than my ascent route. I jogged my way down to the trail in order to leave more time for the two of us for the grind back up to Monument. I found Jackie sitting on a rock reading her book just before 12:30p, almost exactly the expected hour later.
As we hiked the trail back towards the saddle, I counseled her to embrace the suckage that was almost upon us. "It's going to be that hard workout you've been promising yourself all summer. It'll be hard and suck, but it will have an end." This seemed to work wonders. She kept a positive attitude the whole way. I gave her the general direction to head and let her lead almost the entire ascent, choosing sand or rock or over fallen trees. I had taken most of the weight we'd carried in my pack, leaving hers much lighter and keeping it about on equal suckage footing for both of us. We paused for about half a dozen short breaks, choosing shade which felt delicious out of the warm sun (it was about 75F out). We drank, caught our breath, and continued on. Just over an hour after starting up from the saddle, we crested the high ridge and bumped fists now that the hard part was over. We dropped back down to the road on the other side and made our way back more easily to the chairlift. The closer we got, the more folks we came across out for a stroll. Most were dressed for a casual outing in shorts, summer dresses and the like, looking a bit askance at us with our daypacks and dirty clothes. Oh well.
We were back on the chairlift by 2:15p with plenty of margin for our deadline. We rode it and the gondola back down to the Heavenly Village at the bottom, stopping at Jamba Juice to reward ourselves for our efforts. The only downside turned out to be the $200 citation, but I paid that online when we got back to the motel with plans to not give it much further thought...
This page last updated: Tue Jul 12 13:12:58 2022
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