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Jakes Peak Ski & Snowboard Descent

Emerald Bay Chutes on Peak 9,195' (left) and south side chutes on Jakes Peak (right)

 

What:  Steep climb to a local powder stash, outstanding Lake Tahoe views directly below you.

 

When:  Jakes is good to hit after a nice storm (but beware of avalanche danger), or anytime in the spring.

 

 


Summary

Jakes is the closest thing Tahoe has to a "local's surf break".  Just as beach locals will scowl at you for invading their turf and surfing their breaks, don't be surprised if you get some disapproving looks on a Jakes powder day.  In prior years, Jakes has also been the site of some unfortunate run-ins between the snowboarding/vert types and the telemark/skin types.  But is the mountain worth the trouble?  You bet.   Challenging steep glades, steep chutes and outrageous views make this a gem of a skiing and boarding peak.

Jakes sits on a long ridge and thus has small peaklets to the north and south of the true summit.  As a result, Jakes has a several different options depending on your skill, the crowds and the snow conditions.  The main route heads straight up the east face of the main peak and is the most popular route.  The northern route heads up the east face of Peak 9,160'+ that sits just north of Jakes.  The southern route, popular in spring, explores the sunny corn slopes that rise above scenic Emerald Bay.  Unnamed Peak 9,195' is both higher than Jakes and more challenging.  Two very steep chutes (known locally as the Emerald Bay chutes) drop from near its summit.  These are for expert skiers and riders only.

Climbing the SE side of Jakes.  Mt. Tallac and Maggies Peaks

in the background  (photo by Mike Schwartz)

 


Stats:

One Way Mileage:

Around 1.5 - 2 miles to the summit of Jakes Peak

 

Elevation:

Trailhead:  6,800'

Summit:  9,137'

 

MapClick here for an on-line topo map

 

The Goods:

Main Route -- Follow Highway 89 south from Tahoe City (or head north from the South Shore) until you reach a small plowed parking area on the east (lake) side of the highway, just south of the headquarters for D. L. Bliss State Park.  Cross the highway and start climbing.  Almost certainly you will see a skin track blazed by somebody ahead of you.  Follow this often steep and winding path to the summit directly above you (see map).  Beware of some major league avy danger on the east lake-facing slopes of Jakes Peak.  Wear beacons, carry shovels and probes, ski with friends, and know what to do.

Depending on snow conditions, the skiing back down to the highway is nothing short of awesome, with jaw-dropping Tahoe views directly in front of you, and world class glade skiing all around you.  Exercise care in getting back to your car, as it can be confusing with all of the tracks and trees around you.

Northern Route -- This route is similar, though usually less crowded than the main route.  Drive on highway 89 about 2/3rds of a mile north of the Bliss Park HQ and look for a plowed turnout.  Park here, cross the road and start skinning up through the forested glades.  Near the top, wind around to skiers right to gain the ridge north of the peaklet, then continue up the ridge to bag the summit if you so desire.  Depending on snow conditions, good treed powder runs can be found off either the east or west sides of the ridge.  If you've got more time to spare, ski off the west side, then climb back up and ski eastward down to your car.

South Side -- When the temps warm up in springtime, the chutes and open face descending the south side of Jakes are the place to be.  Follow Highway 89 and park roadside high above the north shore of Emerald Bay, right near the roadway avalanche closure gate.  You will see the southside chutes of Jakes and Peak 9,195' looming above you (see photo).  The chutes on Jakes are less steep and nasty than the Emerald Bay Chutes on Peak 9,195'.  Whichever ones you choose, exercise caution in skiing these chutes.  The path back to the car is painfully obvious.


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