Echo Peak Descent

I’ve been looking at Echo Peak with a longing to ski it since I first moved to Tahoe. Every winter I see it staring at me as soon as I leave my home. For the last couple winters I had assumed Echo was too much for me, but this morning I got the chance to find out first hand.

This was my first time skiing with Michael and Scott, both of whom I met through a mutual friend, they are all on the local Search and Rescue team. We decided to do a weekday morning ascent since this was the time Michael and Scott had available and the conditions looked good. I wasn’t going to pass this up just because I didn’t want to take a half day of work!

Starting the skin up Echo

We got started skinning up the standard approach from the end of Wintoon Drive at about 10am in beautiful sunny weather with great snow conditions.

The climb was straightforward with only a few steep sections. By 11:45 we were already traversing the upper part of the mountain to gain the summit ridge.

Approaching the Echo Peak summit ridge

With the steepest part of the climb finished, we soon reached the summit (11:53 AM – less than 2 hours after we’d started out!)

We hung out on top for about 20 minutes, the weather and views were top-notch!

Required summit selfie from Echo Peak

As we took our skins off at the summit I was a little nervous about how steep the upper part of the descent would be. I still consider myself a relative beginner when it comes to backcountry skiing, but I’m definitely gaining confidence with every trip out.

We followed the ridge back the way we had come and continued on a little farther until we found what looked like the descent we had been aiming for on the east face just south of the ascent ridge. Both Micheal and Scott commented about how steep the entrance looked but once I saw it I knew it was well within my abilities.

Amazing powder on the upper part of Echo

The snow up top was amazing! The powder was perfect and the snow was still basically untracked. This was hands dow the best descent of my life! After skiing the upper part of the mountain, we traversed skier’s left to drop into the lower pitch before the long (barely downhill) runout back to Scott’s truck.

Distance: 4.2 miles
Duration: 2 hours, 45 minutes, and 21 seconds
Average Speed: 1.5 mph
Minimum Elevation: 6604 feet
Maximum Elevation: 8893 feet
Total climb: 2304 feet
Total descent: 2336 feet

Skiing Mt. Ralston

Finally, some more time skiing in the backcountry!

Maura skinning up Angora ridge on Beth’s AT skis

Given that this was the biggest winter in Tahoe history, I’m a bit ashamed to state that I’ve only gotten out into the “backcountry” once since my last skiing post. On February 26th, my roommate Maura and I skied up Angora Ridge near my house. This was mostly jut to “try out” backcountry skiing and get her some experience with Avalanche skills/gear (shovel, probe, beacon, and decision making). It was a short ski but a fun morning. Continue reading “Skiing Mt. Ralston”

My First Backcountry Ski

My first time riding the backcountry

I first skied outside a ski resort with my friend Ian back east in the winter of 2009-2010 in upstate New York in the Adirondacks. I was still snow boarding back then. I hauled my snowboard up on my pack using a pair of snowshoes borrowed from the Clarkson university outdoor club’s equipment room. This was the first time I’d seen anyone using climbing skins on their skis or using Telemark bindings. Continue reading “My First Backcountry Ski”