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later climbed Sat, Feb 16, 2002|
We slept in late due to excessive hours spent the night before at my brother's bachelor party followed by gambling in Caesar's at South Lake Tahoe. Driving back to San Jose sometime in mid-morning, I was looking for a short, challenging hike on the way out, finding it in Red Lake Peak. It sits a very short distance from the road, little more than a mile from Carson Pass. A year earlier I had climbed Round Top on the south side of Carson Pass and had noticed this peak at that time as a worthy objective.
The hike is very short and straightforward - from the parking lot head north to gain the Southwest Ridge, and follow it to the summit. This ridge is usually the first route to melt off in the spring as winds and exposure to the sun prevent the snow from building up too deep. Like other peaks in the area it is volcanic in nature, and the hike is easy talus climbing for about 1500ft of gain. The summit is a different story, comprised of what look to be a series of volcanic plugs rising out of the loose talus that surrounds them. There is a fine ski tour (or so I'm told) that goes out another mile to Stevens Peak to the north along a broad, scenic ridge connecting the two. All of the tracks in the snow I found near the top led around the east side of the summit rocks and headed off in that direction. But I saw no bootprints leading to Red Lake Peak proper.
It took a bit of scrambling to find a class 3 route, but I found one on the east side about 30 yards north of the summit. Once on the summit ridge, it was an airy, exhilarating walk (using hands as well!) to the highpoint. The summit register was an old coffee can and contained entries going back about a decade. From the entries I could see that the peak is climbed only a dozen or so times a year, surprising considering its proximity to the highway and the Pacific Crest Trail. Perhaps some are confused as to which is the highpoint, possibly many just don't go for the class 3 scrambling. Had this been an SPS listed peak, the popularity would have been a great deal more.
The summit has fine views of Round Top and the Kirkwood Ski Area to the southwest, Desolation Wilderness to the northwest, and Lake Tahoe to the north. The whole roundtrip from the car took little more than an hour - a great short hike with a fine short class 3 section.
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Red Lake Peak
This page last updated: Sat Apr 7 17:05:04 2007
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