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
(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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 --
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,
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
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'.