Round Top 5x P2K SPS / OGUL / WSC / PYNSP

Sat, Jul 9, 2022

With: Jackie Burd

Etymology Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile
previously climbed Sun, Apr 4, 2004

Jackie and I headed to Tahoe for four days of adventuring, nothing particularly difficult, just some father-daughter peakbagging time. We didn't leave San Jose early because there wasn't any need - we would be able to do our first objective with quite a few hours of daylight remaining. Our first day was an outing to Round Top, a popular class 3 summit in the Carson Pass area along SR88. We had attempted this on snowshoes a few years earlier, but unusually cold temps and strong winds had us turning around not far past Winnemucca Lake, before we had left the trail. The standard route we followed is about 8mi roundtrip with 2,100ft of gain, with short bits of class 3 near the summit - not hard at all by most measures. Leaving San Jose around 7:30a, we were ready to head out from Carson Pass by 11:45a. The main lot was full on a Saturday at peak time, but there was plenty of parking just down the road on the east side of the pass. $5 is required for day-use, but we think our Federal Lands Pass saved us the fee.

Not surprisingly, the trail is very popular and we would share it with dozens of parties going both directions. Most of them seemed to have canines with them, and most of those actually had them on leash, as required. To be fair, all of the dogs off-leash were well-behaved, so I had no real complaint. We plied the trail past Frog and Winnemucca Lakes, enjoying the forest, alpine terrain and wildflowers that painted the landscape we hiked through. Around us, towering cliffs and slopes that form Elephants Back, Round Top, The Sisters, and the impressive ridgeline running west to the Kirkwood Ski Area. It makes for a lovely outing, and it is easy to see why it is so popular. Shortly before reaching Round Top Lake, we left the trail to begin the cross-country portion. We climbed moderate slopes through low scrub and rocky terrain, finding use trails of various definition to make things easier. There is a better use trail starting from the junction nearer Round Top Lake, but we didn't discover this until the way back. No matter, the cross-country is pretty easy until one lands on the good trail climbing to the ridgeline. There were more folks climbing our peak than I would have guessed, but not really surprising - maybe a dozen in all. Most were on their way down, and it seems ours was the last party to start out from the trailhead today. We passed a few small parties on the way up, and once past the easier west summit, we had the place to ourselves. I knew enough to traverse lower to avoid a notch just west of the east summit, though we still found ourselves having to downclimb a distance to get around it. Someone has installed a handline up the east side of the notch that goes up class 4 terrain, wholely unnecessary. I don't recall such a line on any previous visit, and I think it might be better if it weren't there (I didn't remove it, if you're wondering). It was fairly straightforward to stay low on the south side of the notch and use one of several class 3 lines on the southwest or south sides of the east summit. The line Jackie picked was fairly secure on solid rock, and quite enjoyable, I thought. This landed us almost directly on the east summit where one finds the register and benchmark.

It's a spectacular summit with views stretching in all directions. We were lucky to have very clear conditions today. Lake Tahoe was easily visible to the north, Mt. Hawkins to the east, Blue Lakes to the southeast, Deadwood Peak and Canyon to the south, and The Sisters and Kirkwood to the west. The ammo box was filled with paper and several notebooks. It appears we were the only ones to sign in today - seems most folks stop at the west summit? The two are of similar height and the traverse between them requires additional skills, so it's easy to see why the east summit gets so much less love. We had some turkey jerky for a snack and took in the views, but it seemed Jackie had little desire to spend more time at the top - she was a little nervous about the slopes we had traversed and was worried some about the return. She need not have worrried - she did fine reversing the route which I think is easier on the way back. Once back on the climbers' trail she was more relaxed, and we resumed our usual chit-chat that would occupy us for the last hour along the trail.

We finished up around 4:15p, about four and a half hours for the whole outing - excellent time, I thought. The weather had been superb the whole time - mid 60s with a nice breeze to minimize sweat and bugs. Really, I couldn't have asked for better. We would leave Carson Pass to descend a few miles to Red Lake where we would set up camp for the night. There is a somewhat rough road from the northeast that is easy enough in the Jeep. We were the only party to camp on the north side of the lake as a result. Others were camped on the southeast end where an easier road reaches. Jackie took a dip in the lake while I took a jug shower with the warm water we'd left on the dash. With a breeze/wind continuing to blow, we had no mosquitoes or other bugs lakeside, and thought it a most excellent site to spend the night...


Scott Hanson comments on 07/11/22:
On your picture labeled "East Summit Ahead" are you crossing about half way down shoulder on this picture or did you cross below the entire picture taken? I ended up on a nearby false summmit and it was unclear to me how to procede.
We did not cross below what is shown in the pic.
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