Mt. Lola in the late season snow

31 May 2010 - by Will Mollandsimms

On May 31st Judy Molland, Joe Baker and I headed to the Mt. Lola trail in hopes of summiting the 9148 foot northern sierra peak named after the famed Lola Montez. We drove from Soda Springs on a route which took us from I80 to highway 89 north which we followed for 14.5 miles before coming to an intersection with forest service road 07. We turned left on this road and continued down about a mile and a half until we came to an intersection with Forest Service road 07-10. Here we turned left again onto a graded dirt road and crossed over the Little Truckee River before coming to a 4-way intersection after half a mile. Here we turned right and proceeded another couple of miles to the well marked Mt. Lola Trailhead.

We began our ascent slightly before 8 in the morning and found snow as soon as we walked off the road. The Mt. Lola trail is well defined in summer, however the large amount of late season snow buried it completely after half a mile of hiking. Luckily, because the trail is well used in the summer and is a popular ski tour in winter, blazed trees mark the approximate location of the trail and it is easy to follow even with a solid snowpack. After about a mile of following these tree blazes through the forest the terrain opened up and we came to the entrance of Cold Stream Canyon. We elected to climb the snow covered hill to the west side of the canyon rather than continue to follow the blazed trail to avoid the tedious task of side hilling in soft snow with snowshoes. We ascended the moderately steep slope for about four or five hundred vertical feet until the angle relented. Once we crested the hill we tended slightly left, east, until we hit a wide, flat and treeless route heading into Coldwater Canyon. We assumed this was the old dirt road on the map and continued to follow it as it undulated its way towards the base of Mt. Lola. After another couple miles of snowshoeing we came to beautiful, snow covered Cold Stream Meadow. From this open spot we could see the mellow East Ridge and our route to the summit. Once we passed Cold Stream Meadow we stayed on the right, east side of the stream on moderately steep ground until a small section of level ground at about 8000 feet. From here we more or less headed straight for the ridge crossing over the creek and meandering our way through forest and soft snow until we attained the ridge at about 8500 feet. From here it was a simple ridge walk up to the summit. By the time we reached the summit the wind was starting to howl and light snow/rain was starting to fall so we took a few quick summit photos and then headed down to get out of the deteriorating weather. I had trudged the whole route carrying a snowboard so I gladly got a few turns in on the overly soft and wet snow before heading back down.

We more or less followed our pre tracked route up and were back at the car at about 2:30 after an enjoyable climb up the thoroughly snow covered Mt. Lola.

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