Peak 6,234ft P300
Peak 6,622ft P500
Peak 6,340ft P300
Peak 5,805ft P300
Peak 5,591ft P300
Peak 6,669ft P500
Peak 6,601ft P300
Leviathan Peak 2x P1K
Dome Two P300
Peak 6,380ft

Mon, May 3, 2021
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPX
Leviathan Peak previously climbed Fri, May 13, 2005


A short, two-day roadtrip had me heading to Alpine County. I had heard from Kristine Swigart that the snow levels were quite high on the east side of the Pacific Crest and thought I should be able to do a number of peaks up to about 7,000ft of elevation. This proved to be spot on. Most of the peaks were short outings with only one taking more than an hour's time. I had spent the night camped off SR88 on the west side of the range, around the 5,000-foot level where overnight temps didn't get below about 45F. I was up early to drive over Carson Pass and down to the Markleeville area where most of the peaks are located.

Peak 6,234ft

Located a few miles south of Woodfords and immediately east of SR89, this is the only summit of the day that I believe to be on private property, part of a ranch. There is a deer fence adjacent to the highway. I went through the one-way deer gate and down to the ranch road, then up the peak from the southwest, taking all of ten minutes. There is a nice view to the northeast of Diamond Valley. To the south can be seen Peak 6,622ft, my next stop.

Peak 6,622ft

This peak is part of the BLM's Indian Creek Recreation Area on the east side of SR89. I used the Curtz Lake TH, following the Summit Lake Trail for about a quarter mile, leaving it at its apex to head cross-country up the East Slopes on an ascending traverse. There is some downfall to avoid, but this is easily kept to a minimum. The South Ridge just below the summit is a pile of class 2-3 rocks that take you to the summit (or skirt around the ridge if the rocks look problematic). Powen Ru had left a register here in 2019 with a few others signing in, most recently Mark Adrian a year earlier. The summit has unobstructed views in most directions, including Raymond Peak to the south and Hawkins Peak to the west. About 40min for the roundtrip effort.

Peak 6,340ft

Found about 3mi northeast of the previous peak, this one is inside the Toiyabe National Forest. One can drive Airport Rd and a lesser dirt road to the BLM/USFS boundary less than a mile from the summit. The continuing road is marked as "Closed", but has been disregarded more than a few times. I parked and hike this next section, but one could drive up to the saddle immediately west of the summit. From there its a short cross-country hike through the forest to the summit. The highpoint is hard to pinpoint, but I left a register near the LoJ coordinates. Views are limited due to trees, but there is a nice one to the south if you walk a short distance in that direction. One can also see the higher peaks to the west and Jobs Peak to the north, above the trees. I took just under an hour for this one.

Peak 5,805ft

I returned to Airport Rd and drove north to the paved Diamond Valley Rd, then northeast about a mile to the Washoe Indian Reservation (Hung-A-Lel-Ti), a small community of a few dozen homes and some government buildings. Peak 5,805ft lies about a mile to the southwest, a low, unassuming hill. I drove an unsigned gravel/dirt road off Diamond Valley Rd to get within about 2/3mi on the east side. I parked at the end of the road and walked southwest along the edge of a fenced meadow, eventually turning towards the summit where the fence makes a 90-degree turn. Some care is needed to avoid brushier sections, but mostly just a walk up a moderate slope. The peak lies roughly in the middle of Diamond, Wade and Dutch Valleys, mostly used for grazing. The lower Peak 5,591ft can be seen across Wade Valley to the north.

Peak 5,591ft

I parked off Diamond Valley Rd where it goes around the south side of the peak, making for a hike of less than 20min each way. Very little brush on this one and open views all around.

Peak 6,669ft - Peak 6,601ft

Pleasant Valley is a private ranch a few miles southwest of Markleeville. There are three peaks at the NE end of the valley where Pleasant Valley Creek drains the valley. I had planned to do all three in a 3-4mi loop, but was unable to find a safe crossing of the creek to reach Peak 7,091ft. So it ended up being a loop of the two peaks on the northwest side of the creek. I drove Pleasant Valley Rd to the locked gate at the USFS boundary between Peak 6,669ft and Peak 7,091ft. Another car was parked there when I arrived and was gone before I got back an hour and a half later. It was a steep climb of 900ft to reach Peak 6,669ft in about half an hour. The slope I ascended was loose, not altogether pleasant, but very little brush. The summit ridge is a collection of acres of talus with a rocky highpoint found at the northeast end. Views are open in all directions. The higher Peak 7,091ft to the southeast looked to be another steep climb and I wasn't exactly looking forward to it. To the southwest, Peak 6,601ft looked much easier with a 300-foot drop to the saddle between them. The walk between the summits was an enjoyable 30min stretch. From the summit of Peak 6,601ft, there is a nice view looking southwest to the head of Pleasant Valley, flanked on opposite sides by Raymond and Thornburg Peaks. I could hear faint sounds of activity in the valley below, something like wood being split or heavy equipment. I decided it would be best not to drop directly down to the valley, but to make a descending traverse to the northeast back towards the gate. This worked well, the nature of the loose slopes now working to my advantage. There were some sections of brush I couldn't seem to avoid, but thankfully short. I was down to the creek in about 20min, on the wrong side of the gate that I had parked near. I went along the edge of the creek for a short while, half-heartedly looking for a way over to allow me to climb Peak 7,091ft. The stream was moving swiftly and there was no obvious way across, no fallen logs bridging the two sides. My heart wasn't really ready for a 1,100-foot climb, so I readily gave up the idea and went back to the Jeep.

Leviathan Peak

I drove back to Markleeville and then up to Monitor Pass to tackle a few easy summits there. I had been to the area on several occasions, most recently in 2019. I had climbed Leviathan Peak from the highway back in 2005. That year had considerably more snow in May. We were unable at that time to drive the rough road that goes to the summit, but today was another story. I motored to the summit in less than ten minutes, finding no snow until just below the top, and this was easy to avoid. The lookout tower looked much as it had 15yrs earlier - boarded up and closed for good, a tall telecom tower standing beside it. The highpoint is found just south of both structures atop a pile of rock. Really nice views as one might expect for a P1K.

Dome Two

This is a minor summit a few miles northeast of Leviathan. For some reason, it has a page on SummitPost, wholely undeserving. Dirt Big Springs Rd passes within a quarter mile of the summit. Lesser roads can get you even closer, within 500ft on the northeast side. From there, it's about six minutes to reach the summit. There is a thin, 9-foot cairn constructed at the top, the most impressive thing about the summit (though it sports outstanding views to the east into Nevada, including Topaz Lake and the Sweetwater Range). Though sturdy enough, I didn't think it safe to climb the thing to add a rock to the top. I found a year-old Mark Adrian register tucked into the cairn. I looked around for something older, but came up empty.

Back at the Jeep, I spent some time trying to reach Peak 8,140ft several miles to the northwest. I tried two different routes, one on each side of Leviathan Peak, but was blocked by snow on both. The closest I got was 1.7mi from the summit. I figured I'd come back without snow and make it a near drive-up.

Peak 6,380ft

It was 4p when I gave up on Peak 8,140ft, and with a few hours of daylight remaining, I drove down the east side of Monitor Pass to do this last summit. It lies on the north side of the highway, overlooking Topaz Lake. I parked about a mile WSW of the summit along the highway, starting from there on foot. The surrounding area was burned in the 2017 Slinkard Fire, leaving few trees standing and little brush. Mostly the terrain is grass and rocks, with plenty of the latter to make the hike a bit tedious. The route goes across rolling terrain with a few unanticipated drops, though nothing more than about 50-100ft. The final climb up to the summit had fewer rocks, making it more pleasant. The summit is rounded, unassuming, and has a fantastic view of Topaz Lake. It also has a decent view of the four summits to the south that Kristine and I planned to visit the next day. It was 5:30p when I finished up back at the Jeep, having spent an hour and a quarter on this last summit.

I drove a short distance back up the highway, then down the dirt road leading into Slinkard Valley. I had hoped to be able to drive this road the next day about six miles with Kristine, but found a locked gate about half a mile from the highway. Most of the valley is managed by the California DFG - foot traffic welcome, but not motor vehicles, or at least those owned by the general public. I found a flat spot to camp for the night somewhere between the gate and the highway, not far from a few small portable trailers that serve as a sheep camp. The two shepherds with their three dogs brought the 300+ herd back to camp while I was eating dinner. I gave a wave, but got none in return - I got the distinct impression they weren't all that happy with my presence there...


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For more information see these SummitPost pages: Leviathan Peak - Dome Two

This page last updated: Thu May 6 18:21:40 2021
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