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Echo & Angora

Backside of the Angora-Echo Ridge with Indian Rock and its prominent chutes (seen from Kalmia Ridge)

South Shore Gems.  These easily accessed peaks near Fallen Leaf Lake offer fine uncrowded skiing and terrific views over Lake Tahoe and into the Desolation Wilderness.  They also serve up some of the most sustained narrow couloirs in the area.


A while back there was a photo in Couloir magazine (Nov. 2002) of a snowboarder painting a gorgeous line down a narrow chute with towering rock walls -- a classic "big mountain" line that generally doesn't exist in the Tahoe area.  The caption disclosed the location only as "Desolation", leaving readers to wonder.  But the chute is in Tahoe.  The photo was taken on the northwest face of Indian Rock in a finger-like couloir known as "Halls of the Gods" (see photo above). 

Indian Rock, together with Echo and Angora Peaks, crown the seldom skied high ridge that runs from Echo Summit to Fallen Leaf Lake.  This area offers a little bit for everyone in all conditons.  Stormy day?  Ski the trees on the east ridge of Echo Peak.  Sunny day?  Ski the corn-laden chutes on the SE face of Angora Peak.  Looking for the gnar lines?  Drop the couloirs on the NW side of Indian Rock.  There are also terrific views from the Echo ridge over the entire Desolation Wilderness, Mount Tallac and Lake Tahoe.

Trailhead & Map

Echo and Angora are easily accessed from a housing subdivision in the upper Truckee River valley.  If coming from South Lake Tahoe, drive on US 50 through the Meyers Agricultural Checkpoint and then turn right onto North Upper Truckee River Road.  If coming from Echo Summit, drop down US 50 to the bottom of the hill and then turn left onto North Upper Truckee River Road (this road is well signed).  Proceed north for about 1 1/4 miles and turn left on Wintoon Road.  Follow this to the end and park courteously at the gated dead end.

Note that you can also access the northeast face of Angora Peak from the Angora road off of Fallen Leaf Lake.  However, since this isn't plowed in winter, it is only viable as an option in spring (or requires a long, flat approach on the road).  Thus, we recommend the Wintoon trailhead.

- Click here for an annotated topo map.

Route #1 -- East Ridge of Echo


Distance:  Around 2 miles to the summit of Echo Peak 

One Way Elevation Gain:  +2,300' to Echo Peak

Wintoon Trailhead:  6,600'

Echo Peak:  8,895'

The east ridge of Echo Peak is the preferred way to summit the peak, as it climbs a rounded hump through the trees and provides an island of safety in between the avalanche prone slopes to the right and left.  Getting to the bottom of the ridge can be confusing, as the first mile or so of the tour involves flat or low angle climbing through thick trees.  Basically, you want to head almost due east from the trailhead.  Get a bearing whenever you see a break in the trees and readjust your route.  You want to be ascending the broad ridge in between the two streams seen on the topo map. As you get higher, the route should become apparent.  Don't stray onto the slopes on either side of the ridge, especially near the summit, as these slopes avalanche regularly (see photo).

Enjoy the views on the summit and then make your decision what to do next.  The ascent route serves up a very nice tree run back toward the Angora Lakes (see photo above).  This is the better descent option in unstable snow conditions.  Don't forget to angle back to your right near the bottom of the ridge, or you'll end up at Angora Lakes and will have a long traverse back to the trailhead.  Another option in stable snow conditions is to ski the first few hundred feet of the east ridge, then hang a right into the large sunny bowl on the SE side of the peak.  The NE bowl also has some sweet lines down it, but -- again -- beware of serious avalanche danger originating from the steep face just below the north side of the summit.

Route #2 -- Echo-Angora Traverse

If you want to traverse over to Indian Rock and Angora Peak, follow the ridgeline north from the summit of Echo Peak.  The first highpoint you encounter is the upper peaklet above Indian Rock.  The northwest side of this peaklet has some sweet runs.  There's a huge bowl on far skier's left (access this off the ridge before you get to the actual peaklet) that leads down towards Lily Lake, as well as a couple of steep couloirs.  If you are feeling bold, drop the one leading off to skiers' left, known as "Mini-Hall" (left:  Chris Gallardo entering Mini-Hall chute.  Photo B.Shefftz).  If you're feeling reckless or are extremely competent, drop the main chute, known as "Halls of the Gods".  There's yet another chute on the east side of Indian Rock known as "Fallen Angel" that is reserved for the truly insane.  Ski or board these at your own risk.

From the top of the upper Indian Rock peaklet, further progress along the ridge towards requires some rock scrambling that is pointless exercise in ski or snowboard boots.  As a result, you're better off dropping down and traversing skiers' left beneath some cliff bands for a few hundred feet, and then booting up to the summit of Angora Peak.   

Route #3 -- SE Chutes of Angora Peak

From near the top of Angora Peak, there are a few southeast facing chutes that deposit you literally onto the shoreline of the Angora Lakes.  These are prime in early spring and on those frequent Tahoe days when the temps are warm and we see mid-winter corn.  One chute in particular is fairly prominent and can be seen in the photo below (the chute drops from center to lower right of the image).  These can be accessed by traversing over from Echo Peak as described above, or they can be accessed from below at Angora Lakes.  For the latter, take the same initial approach as for the east ridge of Echo Peak, but head in a more northerly direction towards a small saddle west of the upper Angora Lake.  Routefinding can be a little difficult due to the heavy tree cover in the flats and the myriad ski, snowshoe and snowmobile tracks that exist outside the wilderness boundary.  Despite this, it is pretty easy to get your bearings once you get a little higher, so just keep plodding along until you can figure out where you are. 

Getting Back

Returning to your car can be somewhat confusing, and it isn't uncommon to ski up to the wrong dead end turnout in the residential subdivision.  Remember you are looking for Wintoon Rd., but not all of the tracks in the area will lead there so don't just follow tracks blindly.  The trailhead can be found by traversing hard to your right when descending from the east ridge/Angora Lakes area and aiming for a broad hump located near the end of Wintoon Rd.  This "hump" is even marked on the topo as elevation point 6,606'.

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