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Hiking Stats as of 11/21/2018
Total Trips:
Total Distance:
Total Elevation Gain:
 325
 3,891.68 miles
 1,060,050 feet

Feb 17, 2013 - Devil's Peak

 

Partners: (None)

Distance: 11.35 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,359 feet

Trip Time: 6:03

Maps and Stats:
I've made three visits to the Sierra since the first snowfall in October and have left each time without a summit (unless you count my consolation summit of Carpenter Hill on my drive back from Pyramid Peak, and I don't). I attribute this lack of summit success to going in less than ideal conditions - my previous visits were after heavy snows which made the trek to the peaks very time consuming and difficult. My last trip saw me moving at a pace of about 1 MPH, which is just too slow and too energy draining for making a serious summit attempt. But as luck would have it a month had passed since the last snows and I decided the timing for a return to the Sierra was in order. My previous two Sierra trips were both to the Devil's Peak area, where I was in awe of the sight of the mountain soaring above the surrounding landscape. Today I knew I would at least be in a position to attempt the summit that has long eluded me.

I parked in my familiar spot off Troy Road, where the snow was noticeably lower than it had been on my previous visits, and in some cases just flat out melting away. I set off down the finely groomed trail, with my snowshoes lashed to my pack. As it turned out, I wound up not using the snowshoes the entire day thanks to the hardness of the snow and the quality of the groomed trails.

After waiting to cross the UP train tracks I made my way along the finely groomed trails of the Royal Gorge Cross Country ski Club. Of course that grooming has a cost, and numerous signs and even a buried gate warn you of the evils of hiking their trails.

After a little less than an hour I had my first views of Devil's Peak soaring into the sky. To make the ascent, however, I would have to circle to the opposite side of the peak where the slope is a little more manageable. I made my way up the southern slopes, which while steep, were not too difficult thanks to the packed snow. The trails did not lead up here, but for this short of a distance I didn't mind the occasional sinking through the snow. Before too long I had some fine views of the rock face and eventually ran out of snow at the base of the climbing portion of the trip.

From the base it is immediately evident that the vertical wall was not going to be my way up. So I made my way around the western slopes and found what looked to be a reasonable route heading up towards the top. Although the slope was extremely steep, there were plenty of footholds and solid rocks to hold onto during the ascent. I reached the top, coming out right on top of the summit marker. Unfortunately the summit marker was placed on the lower south summit, with the real summit on the other end of a long knife edge ridge.

I set out on the traverse, which was a lot of fun as long as I didn't look down. Kind of like Half Dome - as long as you just focus on what is front of you it isn't a big deal. Well, it didn't seem like a big deal but as I looked back from the halfway point of the traverse I wasn't looking forward to having to make this return trip back. At that point the remaining section was not too difficult, and I found myself on the tiny summit of Devil's Peak. Of course the views were spectacular in every direction, with a full 360 degrees of scenery to enjoy. I planned on eating lunch up here, however, there was barely enough room to sit, and when I did, things didn't seem to be as safe as I would have liked so I decided to descend, then eat.

The return traverse was in fact very enjoyable, and again I stopped at the mid-point to enjoy the amazing scenery Back on the lower south summit i took one last look at Devil's Peak before beginning the descent down the snow slope. I had fun with the descent, even sliding down from the sitting position for a good portion of it. Once back on the groomed trails I made a quick decision to see if I could also summit Snow Mountain, which was another 4 miles south from Devil's Peak.

I made my way as quickly as possible, and after another hour arrived at the frozen Huntley Mill Lake, which I had never heard of but must be some sort of vacation spot. From here I could see that Snow Mountain was still a couple of hours away, and so I decided to save that for another day and head back to the trailhead. I took a slightly different trail system for my return, which offered new views of Devil's Peak Before descending I snapped off a couple of farewell shots of the mountain and completed the rest of the journey through the forest without incident. In total it was a bit less than 12 miles round trip through the Tahoe Forest and my first winter Sierra ascent!

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