Red Lake Peak- 10,063 ft (3,067 m), Steven's Peak- 10,059 ft (3,066 m)
Trip Report

Janni was back in California and came up from San Francisco to spend one day in Davis.  Ever since learning about this, I had looked all over the Sierra for something fun to do.  But the recent snowfall limited the choices dramatically.  All major mountain passes were closed and therefore I started looking at the Tahoe area for something nice to do.  For some time now (basically since I had done Round Top and Hawkins) I have had my eyes on Red Lake Peak and Stevens Peak and I thought those two might even be combined with Waterhouse Peak in an interesting Carson Pass-Luther Pass traverse.  It would only be 8 miles, but surely a fun outing.

However, due to an obligatory visit to the French Club at the Delta Venus the night before, we got a late start and did not leave Davis before 8:45.  We stopped in Placerville and reached Echo Pass some time around 10:30.  The mountains had looked completely free of clouds from Sacramento but sure enough here we were covered by them and Lake Tahoe was hardly visible.  Turning right of 50 onto CA-89, Luther Pass was completely fogged in and the poor visibility continued all the way to Carson Pass.  After discussing the situation at Carson Pass, we decided to go back to Tahoe and to look for something else to do, as we could see absolutely nothing of our destination or even of the other side of the road.  So we drove back into Hope Valley, when suddenly it began to clear up.  I looked north and saw both peaks, Red Lake and Stevens appear from between the clouds.  Our mood lifted, we drove back to Carson Pass, put our gear on and were on our way at shortly before noon.

Plenty of snow forced me to put on the snowshoes right away. Jan was leading and eventually found what must have been the regular path, which we followed up on the ridge.  The snow was more packed and only covered with a fine layer of new snow.  This made for some interesting route finding, but by staying on the trail we could avoid the snow shoes.  Higher up, however, the snow became deeper and I put the snow shoes back on. 

I tried to take a break as often as possible, in order to enjoy the beautiful scenery around me. A strong but (not too cold) wind was blowing the remaining clouds of the mountains and continued to blow snow all around us. Views to Round Top and Hawkins were spectacular, especially because of low-hanging clouds in the lower valleys between the mountains.  Eventually we arrived on top of the false summit (as I call it), where we had a nice view of the summit and Steven’s Peak lying behind it.  Janni was behind me and I should have waited for him, but the summit was so close, so I marched on, aiming at the summit ridge a first but then passing it on the eastern side in order to avoid the class three sections on the first two summit pinnacles.  The third one is the actual summit and after climbing up a short but snow covered class 3 section I stood on the summit at around 2:30 or so. Fantastic views from the summit and looking south, I saw Jan on the false summit in a pretty exposed position.  I stayed for a while taking pictures and waiting for Janni.  After about ten minutes I saw that he had actually walked passed the summit by looking at the tracks in the snow. I was confused by this, having assumed that he would just follow my tracks that were clearly visible in the untouched snow. But he found the section that I went up on too hairy and thus tried to find an easier way to the summit on the northern side of the pinnacle. I climbed down that way and ran into him soon thereafter. We took plenty of pictures of each other and the surrounding landscapes.

After Red Lake Peak, I continued on to Steven’s Peak after suggesting that I would rejoin Jan at the saddle in between the two peaks on my way back.  Steven’s Peak was just a short stroll away and at about four I stood on its summit. It was getting dark fast now and I hurried to get back to saddle where I did not found Janni. I waited for a while, searching for him and for tracks that he might have left in the fresh snow. At close to 4:45 it was getting dark very fast and after I took two more shots of Red Lake Peak and Stevens Peak in the evening sun, I went down the “bowl” in between the two mountains, which led down to highway 88 at around 6000 feet and nearly 4 miles away from Carson Pass. It was a descent of almost 4000 feet and I glissaded most of it in the untouched snow. That was great fun, but being alone I wished to know a bit more about avalanches. But I passed by Crater Lake and at around 5:15 arrived at CA-88. It was almost totally dark know and I began walking back up to Carson Pass. However, I never got there, because after about 15 minutes of walking Jan came driving down from the pass and picked me up. It turned out that he had not been too clear with the brief directions regarding the meeting point I had given him when rushing off to my next mountain and he had taken a different way down when I noticed that it was getting dark. We argued about it during the drive back to South Lake Tahoe and agreed that we have to work on our communication and that we should always have a clear plan and a back up plan before even setting out on a hike. Radios would have been nice in a situation like this and I kicked myself for not bringing them. After a nice dinner at Sprouts in South Lake Tahoe we arrived back in Davis at 9 pm and had completed another perfectly nice day in the Sierra Nevada.

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This page was last updated: May 24, 2008