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Home Forums Trip Reports Crystal Range TR 6/20-21/08

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  • #570192

    Date: June 20-21, 2008

    Location: Desolation Wilderness, CA

    Weather: sunny and warm

    Participants: mmcpheet, bcrider

    Gameplan: convincing ourselves the season is over

    Beta: see pics or ask

    Pics: bcrider, mmcpheet

    Tech Specs: (cameras) Canon SD630, SD800IS, G9, (software) aperture

    Intro: It’s always hard to admit the season is over but after close inspection of the Crystal Range I sad to say that it definitely is, at least in Tahoe.


    The Approach

    Mmcpheet catches first light on the drive over.

    At the trailhead we discovered the parking fee that used to cost $3 (and before that was free) now costs $5. Luckily we scrounged up enough cash.

    We decided to access Desolation Valley from the popular day-hiking spot, Horsetail Falls.

    The route quickly steepens.

    Hard to tell but this is actually the trail.

    The main crux of HTF.

    No problem.

    An hour and a half or so and we’re on top of Horsetail Falls.

    Don’t go that way.

    Heading north we aim for the west shore of Ropi Lake and beyond to the dam at Toem Lake.

    Pyramid Peak from Toem.

    There are no official trails to Lake Aloha from this section of Desolation Valley so you just aim NW cross country. The main crux is a cliff band beyond Teom Lake that blocks entrance to the next shelf near Pyramid and Waca lakes. This section looks worse than it was.

    This was as bad as it looks.

    But with some basic scrambling we are soon past it and back on the rolling granite.


    After 5 miles os so of hiking, snow and Lake Aloha finally come into view.

    And what a view it was.

    Now to find a camp spot.

    This looks good.

    Really good.


    Great shots! Looks like a great place to go backpacking.


    what a wonderful landscape and nature it is!


    Rediculous camp spot.

    Different view of aloha.

    I know there’s more.

    Can’t wait!


    Wow, that’s some amazing scenery. Sort of reminds me of the Enchantments here in Washington.


    @kjkrow wrote:

    Wow, that’s some amazing scenery. Sort of reminds me of the Enchantments here in Washington.

    My thoughts exactly.


    @jcocci wrote:

    @kjkrow wrote:

    Wow, that’s some amazing scenery. Sort of reminds me of the Enchantments here in Washington.

    My thoughts exactly.

    spot on, for the Alpine Lakes! Though I think their approach is a bit shorter!


    beatiful! Always wanted to hike up to that waterfall.

    how’s that sd800is treating ya? pretty sweet, huh?


    Looks like a nice trip, waiting to see the rest of the TR. Your lines were still up on Ralston this wknd.


    Peak 9686 to Mt Price

    After setting up camp and eating some lunch we set out to explore the section of the Crystal Range from Peak 9686 to Mt Price.

    Some flowers greet us a few minutes into the start.

    As we gained elevation our options came better into view. We gained the ridge and dropped through the notch on the lookers left side of the peak.

    Hiking on rock.

    And in suncups.

    To our left is Pyramid Peak and it’s late-season snowpatch looking tasty.

    We want to head north though not south so we ride through the notch a few hundred feet and traverse left to the next ridge. Mmcpheet and Lake Aloha.


    On the ridge.

    Cool line if we brought ice axes and crampons but we didn’t so we turn to our right…

    and see this. If you’re thinking what I was thinking the answer is YES, see next pics. 🙂

    It had to be done.


    After a ride at the waterpark its back to our business of heading north to Price. Matt leads the way.

    Hiking in runnels is fun.

    Looking up to the diving board on. Mt Agassiz.

    And to another notch in the ridge.

    Before we come to Mt Price.

    We hiked to the shadow line below the summit.

    The snow was very suncupped but we figured it was better than walking down. Mmcpheet goes first.

    bcr is next.

    Looking south over to Agassiz.

    North to Mosquito Pass.

    And up to mmcpheet on top of some serious suncups. 😮

    After a few hundred feet of the uber-deep suncups we find some smoother snow and start to have some fun.

    bcr spies a nook.

    mmcpheet gets it on.

    At the bottom.

    Looking back up to Agassiz and Price.

    We were stoked on our full day and new exploration as we made our way back to camp along the west shore of Lake Aloha.

    Peak 9686 above our camp.

    More great views.

    Relaxing at camp.


    This is awesome. :thatrocks:

    (You totally shoulda split-skiied it though. :))

    @bcrider wrote:


    Suncups? More like sunsteins, those are huge.

    Your water ride reminds me of the Funner Cup ( looks like a fun little water crossing you had!


    No kidding. Those are the biggest suncups I have ever seen! Nice dedication.


    The Visitor

    After relaxing at camp and eating dinner we received a visitor.

    I thought he was just after my socks but he was pretty much just curious about everything.

    After taking 5,000 pictures of the marmot we had our dessert, blueberry cheesecake.

    The color started getting better and even our friend the marmot enjoyed a look.

    Sleep came before the time for long shutter pics but I did wake up to take a couple. I still need some work.


    @BGnight wrote:

    how’s that sd800is treating ya? pretty sweet, huh?

    Great little camera for sure! I recently got a G9 too because I wanted more pixels, more controls, RAW (although I haven’t really seen the benefit of that), and also be smaller and less expensive than a dslr. The plan has worked out well for the most part. It takes better pictures but it also requires more knowledge of f-stops, apertures, etc than the 800IS. I’m still learning all that slowly but I think the G9 will essentially become a gateway drug and lead to the real deal at some point. I’d just try to get or make a really good chest harness for it while riding.

    You have the dslr and the 800IS right?


    Anyone know what time and channel the Exitus Sufferfesticus chapter is on?


    @mmcpheet wrote:

    Anyone know what time and channel the Exitus Sufferfesticus chapter is on?

    I think we were both too focused on getting out that we didn’t take many pics of the type 2 exit. That and your camera lens had a spot on it! 🙂


    well, I’ve been really interested in this TR.

    I’ve been interested in general since I’ve yet to hit the aloha camping/fishing/swimming extravaganza trip, and especially after your echo boat taxi TR with the shot of Aloha free of ice in the background.

    Great TR.

    I’m glad I didn’t go ride my snowboard on them thar hills.

    Those cups look horrible.

    The pond skim is one of the cooler things I’ve seen in a TR. Ever.

    I guess the future plan is to skin to Aloha when the ice is just breaking up, nail some really hungry fish, ski price and agassiz, and skip the swimmin’ part.

    Thanks BCR.

    and McPheet.



    Morning color.

    The sun soon warmed our tent and surrounding rock.

    Our kitchen included granite countertops and a bay window.

    Go ahead and laugh but you’d be stretching too if you hiked 8 or 9 miles the day before too.

    We had to exit fairly early so we stayed closer to camp looking for a few good turns.

    The view of Aloha was gorgeous.

    mmcpheet drops first through a slot above a decent little pitch.

    I follow.

    We traversed left on foot and saw this little guy.

    We walked past a cool granite pool that we envisioned was heated with a Japanese monkey chilling in it.

    Back on snow we take what we can get.

    mmcpheet flirts with a waterfall.

    I get in on the fun too.

    Time to put the breaks on.

    One more little shot to the lake.

    The Exit

    We tried to exit to the east closer to Waca and Pyramid Lakes to see if we could find a better route through the cliff band.

    Pyramid Lake.



    And the cliffband.

    Good times.

    At Toem Lake we go on auto-pilot to the top of the falls we we take a small break before the last stretch to the road.

    We made it. 🙂

    We celebrated with bacon cheeseburgers at Strawberry Lodge and called it a great trip. Good times. Thanks mmcpheet!!! 8)


    Sweet. That looks like an awesome trip. That campsite rocks! And amazing pictures as always, thanks for taking the time to post all the chapters.

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