ocation: West Shore – Lake Tahoe, CA
Duration: 1-2 hours
Elevation Change: 2,357′ – from 6,830′ to 9,187
Recommended Map: Emerald Bay, California
Map of General Route:
With some real sweat and skilled skinning, you can wind your way up to a nice view of Tahoe and Desolation Wilderness, in a 2400′ climb above Bliss State Park Headquarters. Half the reason why you’re sweating is to beat the crowds to the top. The ski terrain is only moderately steep, but the skin tracks get icy from high traffic, and set by the local chargers who don’t need a mellow track angle. The track is also steep to mitigate avalanche danger during the storms and immediately after it stops snowing. Sometimes locals skin up there when there IS avalanche danger so don’t just follow without knowing where you are going, and why. There’s a reason why you’ll see missing strips of trees in places. There are some common starting zones you should steer clear from, basically near the top where wind slabs form in most storm cycles. Jake’s gets skied enough for you to figure it out by just showing up a little late.
For skiing the north and east sides, park near the entrance to Bliss State Park in a long pullout on the east side of the road. Walk across the street and you’ll see the starting skin track. There are a few more pullouts down the road to the south that also work fine. Wave at CHP and Cal Trans Drivers and say thank you. They are allowing us to park for backcountry skiing. Land managers at TRPA, USFS, and CA State Parks might say positive things about the ski touring scene, but I have never seen them help skiers access public lands. They have only removed highway pullouts and parking opportunities for backcountry skiers in my 30 years here. I’ve been on many steering committees and commented out the wazoo, only to hear BS from them over and over. Backcountry skiing is amazing for the local economy, and it is the reason many of us live here. It is the job of land managers to allow access to public land in the Tahoe Basin just as much as it is to protect Lake Tahoe water clarity. If I hear the excuse that parking can’t be allowed around Lake Tahoe anymore because of errosion one more time… OK, so thank Cal Trans and CHP please. We actually lost this most important parking pullout in 2016, when TRPA allowed Cal Trans to just wipe it out. We reversed that ridiculous move as a group and got it back. We are also always one bad parking job away from losing ski access at the Emerald Bay Avalanche Gate. Cal Trans managers ocassionally threaten they are closing it off to skiers, but then they leave and the Cal Trans Drivers leave us alone. Again, this is unofficial parking that CHP and Cal Trans allow. Don’t block the road. Be quick and nice to them. And CARPOOL like your life depends on it. If there is no parking, just leave and go a mile further where you can easily park at Eagle Lake or Bayview Trailheads or Mt. Tallac.
Wow. Everytime I return to edit these West Shore pages, I delete it all and try to be a normal person, and just talk about the ski touring. Then I go off on a rant about parking. Jake’s is popular because there actually is some parking. And you could also show up at the crack of noon and probably find parking at popular trailheads too. Many other classic and historic ski touring locations in Tahoe have no parking signs down the entire stretch of highway shoulder for no reason. There used to be signs in the 80’s that said “no parking when snow removal conditions exist”. That sounded pretty fair to me. Can’t we get those back? If you ever get a ticket, do not pay it without a fight. If you are not blocking the road or an opportunity for a plow to clear some snow, and you are beyond the snow stakes, CHP has always told me that we can park and go skiing.
OK, I’m relaxed again. Whewwww.
Your jake’s Peak options are many. I’m going to let you figure them out on your own, because this area is crowded enough as it is. Jake’s is pretty close to town, has a great view, and is kind of a fun party. There are ski lines on different aspects wrapping around this mile long ridge up top, so you can find good skiing most any day of the year. It’s almost too easy and good. I’ll go a few times in early season to test myself and gear and love it. Then I move on to other tours around Tahoe for some variety. But in March and April Tahoe will get amazing backcountry powder conditions, and Jake’s isn’t crowded anymore for some reason. I guess they start Mt. Biking and Golfing.
We can’t meet up at the Corpus Christie Church anymore to carpool, they put notes on our cars last year. Bummer, its a huge parking lot that no one uses. The Tahoe City Transit Center parking lot will work going forward.
And please help www.tahoebackcountryalliance.org with donations or your professional expertise. This is our local organization to speak on our behalf.
On 3/13/17 I took a quick spin up the south side of Jake’s Peak at Emerald Bay. We were in a great week long corn cycle and the EB chutes were fairly tracked out, but less people ski over on the other side of the ascent track. I was the only car parked at the avy gate turnaround at 8am and it was full with about 15 cars when I returned at 10am. Thanks to Cal Trans and El Dorado Sherrif for allowing us to park here! They do sometimes ticket and tow when there is no plowing to do,… Read more »
on 3-5-18 Steph, Jessie and I parked at the avy gate and got into a frustrating discussion with someone named Bill from Cal Trans, who lectured about 15 skiers that we could no longer park here. This has happened in the past. In the end we all went skiing without moving our cars, because there is nowhere else to park to access Desolation Wilderness or Jake’s Peak (the most popular ski tour in Tahoe). He said he was going to post a no-parking sign on the tree at the turnaround, but that luckily hasn’t happened yet. He says the problem… Read more »
These pics are from feb 6 2019. Steph and I skied thigh to waist deep dry snow. I got us both Voile Vector V8 skis that are ridiculously light and wider than we’ve skied before. The first thing I realized is trail breaking is way easier. My skis are 114 at the waist and only weigh 6.5lbs. This makes me so much faster I can’t believe it, so I got 2 more pairs to have in my family and loan out perhaps just to help people go at my new hiking speed. Unreal, you should get a pair. They carve… Read more »
These pics are from Feb 12, 2019. In the middle of the month called Februburied. 330″ of snow measured on the west shore in just one month! It was super windy on this day but no wind slab avy danger, as the wind was blowing the opposite direction from our ski direction. Pow was surprisingly good considering the cold wind, and lunch tasted that much better because of it at Fireside.
These pics are from Feb 17 2019. Not only was Emerald Bay closed virtually all month from over 300″ of snow received just this month, but the end of the road was right at the state park. And it was a one lane sketchy unplowed drive for a few miles getting to this point. It reminded me of the old climbing manufacturer bumper sticker that I forgot who authored, that said “My vacation is your worst nightmare”. I went out solo today and and bumped into plenty of friends.
The picture upload feature broke and now is fixed! Here’s some Jake’s from last year
video clip attached of Valentine’s day run 2022 with Steph. I like to let her go first.
This was a great day with Jehren Code Blue Boehm and Alec Dynashred Sandberg. If you don’t know these guys, know them. They are what Truckee is all about. Deso peaks look great for this time of year! Can’t wait for EB to open.