BASIN PEAK (9,015') CLASS 1
Location: 3 miles N of Boreal Ridge Ski Area (I-80)
Drive: Take Interstate 80 to Castle Peak Exit, which is 8.8 miles west from Highway 89 South Exit just west of Truckee, or 59 miles east from Maple Street Exit in Auburn, CA. Drive north up the ascending paved road, and park near the green gate, off the pavement. A sign here implores, "Pack it in, Pack it out." If the gate is open, good 4WD vehicles can continue about 1.5 miles to the base of Castle Pass.
Climb: From the green gate near the end of pavement, head north along the dirt road, or take the old PCT north (see Castle Peak, Route A Alternate, Climb). With the dirt road, go through the gate, and in 0.1 mile, go right, following the lower, main road. A former (or winter only) sign offered the skiers' route (right) and the snowmobilers' route (left). Take the right road, the skiers' route. Go left at the next junction, where the right fork goes down into the meadow. You'll soon pass the formerly signed Hole-in-the-Wall trail, headed left. Shortly then, a dirt road marked with dual PCT signs heads right and down. This intersects the old PCT in a few hundred yards on the other side of a meadow. Continue straight on the main dirt road, climbing upward, and continuing northward, about another half a mile, to a point where the dirt road becomes a trail that quickly ascends to signed Castle Pass (7,880'). The PCT comes back in from the right, about here. Various signs indicate "Hwy I-80 3 Donner Pass 7" and "Peter Grubb Hut 1 Sand Ridge Trail 1 1/4" and "PCT." Follow the signed PCT north, dropping 300 feet, then passing to the right (east) of Peter Grubb Hut, which is operated by the Sierra Club. Go right, or straight, at the junction with the Sand Ridge Trail, just past the hut. Follow the PCT, which then climbs along the west slopes of Basin Peak. At the trail's highest point, which is evident by the clearly descending trail to the north, head right and up (east) cross-country, on class 1 slopes, to the summit. There was also a faint jeep trail that heads up from the northnorthwest and climbs almost to the top.
Drive: Same as Route A.
Climb: See Castle Peak, Route A, Climb. Climb nearly to the top of the first (north) summit of Castle Peak, and go left (northeast) to intersect a use trail which follows the top of the ridge that connects Castle Peak with Basin Peak. This route offers high, scenic views, with many wildflowers, eroded volcanic mud flow cliffs, and pinnacles seen enroute.
WINTER SKI ASCENT: Use Routes A or B. Between Nov. 1 and May 30 the Sno-Park operation is in effect. The Boreal Inn, Boreal Ridge Resort, or the gas station here, should also be a vendor for this permit. There is a vendor in Truckee at the Truckee Mountain Hardware store, in the new mall along Old Donner Pass Road, north of the Interstate.
One parks, along the signed frontage road area, off the south side of the freeway, east of the freeway exit. Heed the Sno-Park signs. There may be an outhouse, here. The walk to the skiing start takes about 10 minutes. Be careful of the traffic, and any ice on the pavement!
Warning: Persons have been buried and killed by avalanches in this area. Use extreme caution when traveling on snow slopes. Please check the current backcountry avalanche conditions postings by the United States Forest Service, Tahoe National Forest, Truckee Ranger District, and please do heed them!
TRIP STATS: Route A, 2,100 feet gain with an additional 250 feet gain on the return, 4 miles one way; Route B, 2,200 feet gain with an additional 300 feet gain on the return, 5 miles one way; winter ski ascent, same as for Route A or B, with about 0.5 mile extra each way from the Sno-Park.
Notes: Basin Peak, of course,
goes very well with Castle Peak, and with an overnight stay at
Peter Grubb Hut (elevation 7,760+ feet) in Round Valley to the
west. Make hut reservations at the Sierra Club's Clair Tappaan
Lodge, 2.3 miles east from the "Soda Springs" I-80 exit,
along the Old Donner Summit Road. A popular, classic loop ascends
Castle Peak, then to Basin Peak, Route B, Climb, and onto Basin
Peak, Route A, Climb, in reverse, for the return. The low point
of the ridge in between the two peaks is 8,640+ feet elevation.
After a heavy winter storm, the trees on, especially, Basin Peak, and Castle Peak, become heavily encrusted with snow and ice, making spectacular photographs. This is one of the first areas to become skiable as winter arrives, due to snowfall characteristics and its relatively high elevation. Many persons ski to Grubb Hut. The USFS is acquiring the private land in this area. Wilderness designation had once been proposed.