Ski North Ridge of Ralston and East face of Pyramid Peak

20-24 Mar 2004 - by Mike Griffo

This was to be a nice relaxing trip to find some spring skiing in Desolation Wilderness. And it was too. My friend, Luke, was on snowshoes and I was on telemarks. Luke was new to snow camping so we tried to ease into the trip, no long days planned and we would hit the easier peaks first.

After obtaining a reserved permit from the South Lake Tahoe ranger station and grabbing some dinner we headed out to the snow park parking lot nearest to Echo Lakes. Because we hit the trail about an hour before dark we didn't get very far and camped on the other side of Echo Lake. The next day was beautiful warm day. It made the snow a little slushy which made for difficult travel for the snowshoes up steep ridges but kept us in good spirits. That night we camped on the ridgeline that leads to Ralston Peak above Haypress Meadow. We had planned on hitting Echo Peak and a couple others but the snow coverage on those peaks was too thin to be enjoyable. So we decided that we would summit Ralston the next day and then move to Aloha Lake to set up a base camp for Pyramid Peak. On day 3 we took a late start up Ralston because we were so close and summited by 11am. The eastern face of the ridge was highly corniced but I found a spot I could drop into and enjoy a little spring corn. After returning to camp we packed up and headed out to Lake Aloha.

On day 4 we left camp at 8am for Pyramid Peak. We took the eastern face up to the southern ridge. We brought along ice axes and crampons just in case but it turned out that I didn't use them and my friend used his axe for a little comfort on some sections. There were some steep sections that I had to side step up with my skis but I never had to take them off. By 10am we were having lunch on the summit, enjoying a perfect cloudless day. We stayed on the summit for a couple of hours enjoying the views and taking pictures and then headed to the bowl on the east face for some of the best spring skiing I have experienced. Back at camp we drank lots of water ate as much food as we could and got a suntan. It must have been at least 70F that afternoon.

The next morning we broke camp and headed back to the trailhead. There was a nice down hill ski from Haypress Meadows all the way back to Echo Lakes. And the ski across the lake was a nice and easy skate with the wind at my back. The skate was so much faster than snowshoes that with my binoculars I watched my buddy trudge across the lake for almost 30min.


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