- Advanced hill touring and mountain terrain with slopes up to 30 degrees
- 14 miles in 2 days
- Cumulative gain, loss: +4400', -4400'
- Avg. Relief: 600'/mile
- Topos: Tahoe, Granite Chief (15');
Tahoe City, Granite Chief (7.5')
This loop tour gets into some of the very accessable alpine terrain just to the
east of the Donner-to-Squaw tour. It's a good tour for
late-winter to early-spring, with an average elevation of 7500'.
Silver Peak viewed from the Pole Creek/ Deep Creek divide
The Pole Creek trailhead is on Hwy. 89, 2.3 miles north of Squaw Valley and 6.2
miles south of I-80, 1/4 mile south of the "Elevation 6000'" sign, on the west
(non-river) side of the road. Parking here (free) is rather limited, so arrive
Most people ski in directly from the parking area, and take a meandering route
that meets and crosses Pole Creek two miles later. However, a more direct route is
to go south 1/4 mile, back to the "Elevation 6000'" sign, and ski up from there,
following Pole Creek; it's about a mile to the bridge where you join the longer,
more popular route.
Continue westward from there, either following the snow-covered road, or just
staying north of Pole Creek, to the Sierra Club's Bradley Hut, which is at 7500',
about 1/4 mile north of Pole Creek. From there, go up about a mile, west and
then northwest, to the 8350' saddle separating the Pole Creek and Deep Creek
drainages. Then drop northwest and find a camp spot with a spectacular view of
the crest. Take an hour or so to ski up to Tinker Knob, one of the Tahoe
area's best viewpoints, and back.
Mark Chin dropping down into upper Pole Creek
The next day, you could retrace your route back to the car, but that would be
too easy. Instead, return to the Pole Creek drainage, dropping down to the 7600'
meadow (or you could try a higher traverse above 8000', but it probably won't
save you any effort), and ascend Silver Peak's northwest side.
There are various ways down Silver Peak: There's an east-of-north bowl, a
north-of-east bowl (kind of steep, but may have good snow), a south-of-east
bowl (less steep), among other options. If you drop down generally eastward,
try to traverse a bit northward between 7400' and 7000' to help you get back
towards the Pole Creek trailhead where you parked.
Fun with breakable crust
An account of our 3/01 Pole Creek trip, plus more pictures.
General info and disclaimer about backcountry skiing
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