Ebbetts Pass

After a disappointing attempt to ski Silver Peak, Chris, Kristine, and I weren’t ready to give up on a beautiful day of skiing. We packed up our gear and continued up Ebbetts Pass, looking for adventure. We parked at the summit and decided to head southeast along the crest without much idea of what we’d find.

Kristine scopes the route from Ebbetts Pass.

We followed the crest along its western side, a few hundred feet below. The route was a little annoying to follow as it contoured along various gullies, but the snow was good for skinning and we made quick progress.

Folger Peak emerges to the southwest.

We climbed out of the forest and had a view of the ridge before us. We were all transfixed by a pillar near the top of the ridge. Kristine seems to have a deep seated desire to climb all things thumb shaped and this appeared to fit the bill. Chris and I were also intrigued by the pillar and we unanimously agreed to head there and climb it if possible.

Christine leads the way toward a rocky pillar.

We arrived at the pillar shortly and found it to be a bit larger than expected (about 25 feet tall) and composed of a volcanic conglomerate. We were a bit skeptical of the rock quality but Kristine started up the climb quickly and I followed her, finding only one or two class three moves before making class two moves to the summit. The rock was delightfully stable! Chris followed and soon we were all atop the airy perch.

Kristine climbs our consolation pinnacle.

We spent a while on the summit eying distant peaks and talking about past and future plans. Chris admitted that he felt a little out of his depth as Kristine and I named dozens of Sierra peaks we’ve climbed or wanted to climb. Yelly had made a similar comment about me “sounding like a peak bagger” based on my familiarity with Sierra peaks, but after Kristine explained her desire to climb various landmarks with no regard as to what “list” they might belong to, Chris seemed to understand a difference in ethos between our goals and those of a peakbagger.

The many peaks of the Carson Iceberg Wilderness sprawl out toward the west.

Eventually we headed back down to our skis and continued to the high point on the ridge. We stashed our skis a hundred feet shy of the summit where the snow gave way to sharp volcanic talus and hiked to the high point. We weren’t too much further from the summit of Tryon Peak but we all seemed content to stop here for lunch. The views in all directions were spectacular and unaffected by the haze which seems to obscure the high sierra in the heat of summer.

The view north; The Otter, Deadwood Peak, Thunder Mountain, Peak 9626, Fourth of July Peak, The Sisters, Round Top, Pyramid Peak, Red Lake Peak, Stevens Peak, Reynolds Peak, Waterhouse Peak, Raymond Peak, Hawkins Peak, Freel Peak, and Jobs Sister.

We had a lazy lunch while enjoying the beautiful spring day. Silver Peak appeared so close and I was glad that the couloir wasn’t visible from this angle or I would have been more upset about or morning failure.

Silver and Highland Peaks rise across Noble Canyon.

As it was, this was a wonderful consolation and I took my time photographing the distant peaks.

Eventually we decided it was time to return and we started the descent back to the pass. We all agreed that it would be more fun to descent fall line as far as was fun and then climb back to the pass rather than attempt a contouring descent along our climbing route.

Kristine leads the descent; Peep Sight, Bull Run, and Lookout Peaks beyond.

The snow was warm and sticky, but it was steep enough to still afford fun skiing. Chris, however, was still having issues with glue sticking to his bases ever since accidentally baking his skins onto his skis during our attempt of Mt Shasta two years earlier.

Chris descents the ridge; Reynolds, Raymond, the Freel Group, and Mt Rose beyond.

After a couple hundred feet the grade became too shallow to be good skiing and we started contouring toward the pass, Chris opting to skin, Kristine opting to boot uphill shorty before continuing a traverse, and I opting to continue the traverse to the highway before hiking to the summit. After ten minutes I realized that the highway was curving away from me and it would be quite a while before I could reach it. I transitioned to skins and soon joined Chris and Kristine at the cars.

We had a small snack before hitting the road, Chris and I returning to South Lake and Kristine heading south for some skiing on the east side. As we neared the Wolf Creek road closure gate, there was one way traffic being controlled by a pilot car and we were once again unable to snag the Road Closed sign. Perhaps it’s still there if anyone is interested in nabbing it…

Snow Discussion

Avalanche Forecast


Snow Observations

  • Normal spring conditions
    • Evidence of recent cornice falls
    • Evidence of recent rockfall
  • Snow line below Ebbetts Pass

GPS Data

Elevation Gain: 1,300 ft

Total distance: 3.11 mi