Hiking Stats as of 11/19/2019
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet

May 2, 2015 - Monument Peak / East Peak


Partners: Kyle Breen

Distance: 10.15 miles

Elevation Gain: 3,107 feet

Trip Time: 4:46

Maps and Stats:
Kyle and I were once again in Lake Tahoe, having been on another housing tour looking for that perfect Tahoe vacation house. We actually found one we really liked, and for the first time made an offer. The house is 3 bedrooms / 2 bathrooms, on a 16,000+ SF lot, set well back from the road via a long walkway and surrounded on all sides by multiple Conservancy lots, running hundreds of feet in all directions, making this house the only one in the immediate area. With the large lot it has a huge back yard, filled with towering Ponderosa Pine trees making for an absolutely incredible setting. The back deck is quite large, offering forest views all around. Inside, the house has a nice cabin feel to it, with a giant wall of windows offering larger than life views to the large backyard. We pretty much knew from the time we walked in that we wanted this house. Upstairs there is a nice master bedroom and a loft offering incredible views to the outside as well. We would find out in the days ahead that our offer would be accepted, and we would be the proud new joint owners of our very own South Lake Tahoe cabin!

After submitting our offer on the house, we still had about a half day of daylight to do some peakbagging, and I suggested Monument Peak, the highpoint of the Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe, along with East Peak, which although lower, was across the border in Nevada (hence the name "East" Peak and had the distinction of being the highest point in Douglas Country. We didn't have very much time to do a lot of research, so I downloaded a GPS track from the Peakbagger app, and aimed for the nearest roads, finding myself winding up through the Heavenly resort and its row of condos before arriving at a parking lot that was signed on one side for No Parking, but not where I found my spot. There was still a fair amount of snow on the mountain, nothing too difficult but concentrated more in the ski run areas where the snow had been groomed and compacted. We started out trying to avoid the snowfields, quickly finding a nice dirt road that we decided to just follow up as long as we could. Along the way we encountered many trail signs for the ski crowds.

The travel was quite easy, thanks to the snow-free road, and we continued on up the hill towards Monument Peak, now visible a couple of miles away. We made our way up to East Peak Lake, although our first objective was not East Peak itself. There were some ski buildings and lodges in the area, although not in use now that Heavenly was shut down for the season. We continued heading uphill towards Monument Peak, taking a long ski run for most of the final ascent. This part was somewhat steep and tiring with only our hiking boots for traction. Eventually we made it to another road, and we gladly took the road up the final few hundred feet to the saddle, with Monument Peak looking mighty snowy, like it still could have been open for skiing, at least at these upper reaches. Once at the saddle, I made a mistake, thinking that staying on the road was the best option as we headed towards what looked like the summit. We ran into the top of the gondola up here, along with a map showing the Heavenly ski resort. We tried (unsuccessfully) to see if we could retrace our ascent route on the map, but given our combination of ski runs and the road, it wasn't really possible. We ascended what looked like the summit through some deep snow, but soon found out that we were wrong, and would have to descend cross country then reascend the next bump over. This was easier said than done, with very deep postholing issues plaguing both of us. The crazy thing was that we could see the snow free side of Monument Peak right in front of us, but had to suffer through the deep snow to get there.

It took about 2 1/2 hours to make the summit, where we enjoyed some pretty incredible views towards Lake Tahoe east to Nevada and Freel Peak. We found a register in a broken jar, but no pen or pencil and gave up on signing in. We did not stay long, descending back down to the saddle before making our way towards East Peak. This was pretty easy, following a road for most of the trip, and taking a ski run, complete with a snowmaking device for another part. One of the many gondolas also tops our just shy of the East Peak summit for the lazy, and we hiked up the rocky summit blocks, found the benchmark, and took in some absolutely incredible views of Lake Tahoe. We had to get some summit photos with this kind of scenery, although the light didn't do us any favors. On the way down from East Peak we stopped off at the medical station just off the summit to see what was inside, and although it was locked, we coudl easily see inside. From there we tried to avoid the road, preferring the fun standing glissades offered by the ski runs. We found ourselves back at the bottom a little less than 5 hours after starting out, although we took a wrong turn and wound up having to walk a half mile beneath some of the finest mountain homes you could hope to see. I still prefer the cabin in the woods that we found though!

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