MT. PRICE (9,975') CLASS 2
Location: 3 miles E of Wright's Lake
Drive: Take U.S. 50 to the signed Wright's Lake Road, 6.1 miles west from Twin Bridges, CA, or 37 miles east from the junction of Highway 49 and U.S. 50 in Placerville, CA. After 3.8 miles, come to the road which comes in from the left (west) signed, "Granite Springs 8 Crystal Basin 11," also "11N99" and "34." Go straight ahead to "Wrights Lake 5." Continue on the paved road 2.4 miles to another fork where "32" and "11N37" come in from "Icehouse 9 Highway 50."
Continue from this last point straight ahead, or left (north) from the road "32" coming from Icehouse. In 8.1 miles from U.S. 50 on the Wright's Lake Road, or 1.7 miles from this last junction, come to the overnight/overflow parking signed, "Twin L Tr Parking." When things are not busy, one may continue another 0.2 mile to the new Information Center, with its maps and books, and turn right (east), following the sign to "Twin & Grouse Lake Trail" with another sign "12N23." After 0.2 mile, go straight, ignoring the road right signed, "12N23A." Pass private homes (no parking on turnouts or shoulders) and after another 0.6 mile come to a sign "Twin Lakes Parking (to the right)" and "Twin Lakes T.H. (to the left)." There is a paved, parking loop area with room for about 35 cars. A stone outhouse is available here. Also, a self-serve, day use, wilderness permit station appears shortly along the route.
Climb: From the paved parking area, pass around the gate, following a sign to "Twin Lakes Trail." A hundred feet down the paved road, a sign on the right marks the "Twin Lakes Grouse Lakes Trail." Follow this trail, ignoring the big footbridge signed "Chappelle Crossing" to the left. Pass the big board with the map and the day hikers, self-registration, permit box, and past the sign "Wilderness Users Permit Required." The map says, "1.1" miles to the junction where the trail splits, and another "1.7" miles to Smith Lake.
Continue on the wide trail, crossing a small wooden bridge, and then a few small stone bridges. About 0.3 mile from the start, cross a small creek, and come to a signed fork "Twin Lake Grouse Lake" and go right. Note this junction and remember to take the left trail coming back marked, "Wright's Lake East Side." Follow the trail upward which comes to another junction signed "Twin Lake Grouse Lake," and go right. In the next few miles, pass the unsigned Grouse Lake and Hemlock Lake, then come to unsigned Smith Lake. A use trail runs along the left (north) side of the lake. Head cross-country east, from the north side of the lake, and climb up talus to the local ridge. Contour around the right (south) side of Pk. 9,600+, and gain the drainage of Lyons Lake at about the 9,000 to 9,400 elevation.
One may contour east around the head of this cirque, and climb up the other (east) side of the cirque to the main crest, then left (north) to the peak. This will involve basically no more than class 2 scrambling.
Otherwise, from the 9,400 foot elevation, climb to the left (west) side of the short, sharp, rocky ridge that divides the Lyons Lake and Twin Lake watersheds. Drop down several yards on the north side of this short, blocky ridge, and clamber to its east end, where a class 3 section leads, in 25 feet, to the top of granite slabs, and then to the sandy, south slopes of the Mt. Price summit area. Continue over class 1-2 sand and talus to the highpoint to the north.
As an alternative, the Twin Lakes Trail can be taken to a point between Twin Lakes and Island Lake, where one heads south cross-country up to the short, sharp, rocky ridge with the class 3 climbing at its east end. The terrain up to here is a bit easier, although there is more off-trail elevation gain.
The ridge north of Mt. Price is at least class 3, and perhaps class 4. Although it may be tempting, do not try to climb up this ridge unless you have a rope and are an experienced rock climber. This ridge can be reached, cross-country, from Clyde Lake or Mosquito Pass from the east.
Drive: See Mt. Price, Route A, Drive. About 5 miles from Highway 50 on the Wrights Lake Road, a sign reads, "Lyons Creek Trailhead." There is a big board with a self-issue, day hikers, registration box. A gated dirt road just south of the Lyons Creek Bridge, or just north of "MP 4," heads east. Park well off the paved road in a primitive parking area with room for about 10 cars.
Climb: Follow the dirt track east along the south side of Lyons Creek, which becomes a trail after 0.3 mile. Follow the trail, and in the next few miles, you will cross a number of small streams or stream beds. After 1.5 miles from the start, a signpost "Bloodsucker Lk Sylvia Lk Trailhead" marks a trail going left and back. Do not take this trail. Note it for your return. After 3.2 miles from the start, come to the wilderness boundary, with a sign. After 4.7 miles, come to a faint trail which leaves the main trail to Sylvia Lake just after it crosses the major stream. Continue left to Lyons Lake, and then head cross-country north to the short, sharp, rocky ridge between Pk. 9,600+ and Mt. Price, or the rocky, class 2 slopes to the right (east) toward the head of the cirque, and join Route A.
WINTER SKI ASCENT: The approach
from Icehouse is not plowed. Route B from U.S. 50, using the Wrights
Lake Road on foot, would be the preferred choice.
A nice snowcamp could be made at Sylvia Lake, with both Pyramid and Price skiable from here. Beware of avalanche conditions.
TRIP STATS: Route A, 3,100 feet gain, 5 miles one way; Route B, 3,300 feet gain, 6 miles one way; winter ski ascent from U.S. 50, 3,700 feet gain, 10+ miles one way.
Notes: Price is the second
highest peak in Desolation Wilderness, and a loop climb doing
both Pyramid and Price is possible. The major problem would be
getting around Pt. 9,686'.
About 30 minutes hiking time south from Mt. Price is Pk. 9,967'. The sight of this peak inspires a comparison to the tip of an ocean wave. This highpoint possesses a class 3 summit block which can be climbed from its western side via some friction moves under an overhang, and a short crack.
The drop off the eastern side of Mt. Price and Pk. 9,967' is considerable. Several years ago, a hiker was trapped on a ledge, trying to climb from the east below. This incident received some media attention. The hiker was subsequently rescued by a Sheriff's helicopter.