Mt Rose

Mt Rose.

After failing to summit Mt Rose in spectacular fashion, I was eager to get back out and redeem my effort. This time I recruited a new ski partner, Mike, to join me and we set out from South Lake at 7:30 and hit the trail around 9. My plan was similar to the previous attempt, except for starting a bit further east of the Mt Rose Highway Summit and, more importantly, forecasted winds of less than 20 mph.

Tamarack Lake.

After surmounting the 8 ft wall of snow along the highway, we started skinning southwest across Tamarack Lake and toward the Tamarack Peak ridge. Although this route involved a bit more elevation gain than starting at Mt Rose Summit, it was much more direct and less frustrating. At the west end of Tamarack Lake we found a large series of constructions in the snow, some dug more than three feet deep. We thought that this would be an odd place to dig a pit for snowpack analysis and decided that perhaps it was the remnant of a wilderness class exercise.

Lake Tahoe.

We gained the ridge quickly and made progress toward the summit. The snow was greatly wind affected and drifts had accumulated in the wake of most trees from the northeast wind. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the snow was still very soft and wintry, even on the southern aspect.

Broken Glass Bowl and Mt Rose beyond.

At the summit, we bumped into a splitboarder named Patrick who seemed to be doing his own thing. Mike and I headed over to Broken Glass Bowl to transition for the ski down and Patrick followed us, but wasn’t much interested in conversation or, as it turned out, skiing with us despite saying that he was also headed toward Mt Rose.

Our tracks down Broken Glass Bowl.

Mike and I headed down the ridge which separates Broken Glass Bowl from Hourglass Bowl, hoping that the northeast winds might have pushed some good snow onto the leeward side. Unfortunately the snow on the ridge was very firm, but it was some steep, fun, open tree skiing nonetheless. We regrouped in the center of the bowl and I skied to the base of the bowl, Mike following shortly behind. I was happy to see that Mike had decided to figure eight my line! I let Mike take the lead on the final pitch and opted to stack my line.

Patrick wastes no time in continuing toward Mt Rose.

We came to a large meadow and took our time reapplying skins and having an early lunch. Patrick had arrived in the meadow before us and wasted no time in continuing onward. We soon started off in Patrick’s track, toward Mt Rose. After a little while we decided that his track wasted a little too much elevation and traversed westward along the drainage, meeting up with a skin track we had spotted from the top of Tamarack.

Mike cuts trail toward Mt Rose.

The skin track began a bit further east than my previous ascent, but soon headed west and more or less along the route I knew. It was a beautiful sunny day and except for some back pain the climb was delightful.

Our skin track switches its way back and forth up Mt Rose. Relay Peak, Mt Houghton, and Lake Tahoe beyond.

Soon we gained the ridge and I recognized the rock I had been pinned to by hurricane winds a few weeks earlier. What a contrast between those two days!

Mike gains the Mt Rose ridge. An all too familiar rock sits above him.

We climbed the ridge to the summit, and had our first sweeping view of Mt Rose’s north bowl and Reno far below.

Mt Rose’s north bowl sits high above Reno and Truckee Meadows.

We had a stunning view of Lake Tahoe to the south, and I decided that we could see every ski resort in the region (I later realized I’d forgotten about Sugarbowl and the other ski resorts along I80 — they may have been visible, though I did not look for them)!

In all directions the views of distant peaks were also outstanding! On the south side of the lake, Job’s, Job’s Sister, and Freel Peaks were recognizable as well as Mt Tallac, although Tallac’s northeast bowl struck me as somewhat alien from this perspective. Far to the south, I recognized Silver and Highland Peaks and, nearly 100 miles off, Dunderberg Peak! North of the lake, Castle Peak and Sierra Buttes cast striking images. Perhaps most delightful, Lassen Peak and the Brokeoff caldera were visible almost 120 miles to the northwest!

Every time I visit Reno, I stare up at Mt Rose’s lofty summit and I was delighted to now be able to look down on the distant city!

Reno, Nevada.

It was brisk on the summit, but Mike patiently waited for me as I photographed distant silhouettes. After a few minutes we were both transitioned and ready to descend.

Mike, stoked to be on the summit!

From the summit, the south face was a treacherous talus field, barely covered with snow. We thought we could avoid the rocky terrain by traversing east toward a chute we had spied from Tamarack peak, and were soon able to find it.

Perhaps not the best place to drop in…

Mike was excited to lead the pitch and after discussing our route and possible hazards, he started down. Our radios were malfunctioning a bit, but I was able to gather that there were some rocks to watch out for. I followed him down and was surprised to find great snow along the left side of the chute! Just as I turned to join Mike, though, I found the rocks that he had warned of and added a few new scratches to the base of my skies.

Mike descends a chute near the summit of Mt Rose.

Now that we were out of the chute it was apparent that whatever few rocks we had hit on the exit were nothing compared to what was in store for us. We spent a few minutes picking our way through the rocky snowfield (or perhaps snowy rockfield?) and near the bottom I found room to link a few turns but was again punished by the rocks just before we made it to the clear.

Mike picks his way through the rocks.

Below us lay open snow now, and we had our choice of line. We opted to ski down a gully toward the bottom of the meadow and despite the direct sun and warm temperatures, the snow skied very well!

We met up in the bottom of the meadow and followed what we assumed to be Patrick’s track down the drainage, hoping that we’d find a skin track returning to the car. Soon we did find a track and we transitioned and started the final hike of the day. It was a very steep track, although I didn’t mind too much, and at one point, it was obvious that others had decided that it was too steep and cut their own track at their favorite grade.

A Goldilocks skin track!

There were dog prints in the skin track and near the top of the climb, we spotted a ski track with what appeared to be the track of a dog bounding down behind its owner — every five or six feet there was a large crater where the dog presumably landed and jumped again. It must have been a marvelous day for that pup! We gained the ridge and were happy to see the car below us, and that we wouldn’t need to do any more uphill.

One last peek at Mt. Rose.

On the ski down, a roller hidden in the shade of a tree took me by surprise and I accidentally became airborne before crashing into the snow. After searching around for a pole and my glasses, and Mike checking me over to make sure I hadn’t injured myself, we skied back to the highway and hiked down to the car.

Mike and I grabbed a drink in Incline Village before heading home, excited from a great day on the snow!

Snow Discussion

Avalanche Forecast


  • No new snow, no active snow transport
  • Light northeast winds
  • Evidence of recent windloading southwest aspects
  • Heavy snow below 9,500 ft on southern aspects

GPS Data

Elevation Gain: 4,100 ft

Total distance: 7.92 mi

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