STEVENS PEAK (10,059') CLASS 1
Location: 2.5 miles N of Carson Pass
Drive: Take Highway 88 to an indistinct side road marked by a post "091," which is 4.4 miles west from Picketts Junction (west junction of Highway 88 and Highway 89) or 4.5 miles east from Carson Pass. This heads north, and quickly turns to rough dirt road. Proceed on this main dirt road 1.3 miles to a fork at 8,080+ feet elevation signed, "End of County Road." Park.
Climb: Take the right fork signed "064." Ignore a descending right fork after 0.3 mile. Take the hard switchback to the right after 0.7 mile and come to a mine. Take the road descending to the right and pass some ruins. Follow the switchbacking road to reach the northeast ridge of Stevens Peak. Head cross-country up ball-bearing slopes past a lonesome, 12 foot high pinnacle about halfway up this ridge. One could also follow the next ridge over to the left (south) to reach the class 2-3 cliffs that lead to the summit from this side. Following the cliffy ridgeline proper is probably the best way to climb these cliffs from this side.
From the point where cross-country travel begins on this route, one could alternatively drop 100 feet and continue to follow the dirt track about a mile where one would head cross-country left up the gentler north slopes.
Drive: Take Highway 88 to the paved, PCT North parking lot about 200 yards west of Carson Pass. A self-pay parking fee of $5.00 (The America the Beautiful Interagency annual pass and the Golden Age Pass are still said to suffice, instead of this fee, and there seems to be an annual forest pass available for $20--USFS, July, 2013) is required.
Climb: Take the PCT north about 3 miles to any point where one can head cross-country toward the peak. Ascend steep volcanic soils to the summit.
WINTER SKI ASCENT: Begin
from Carson Pass Sno-Park and roughly follow Route B to the low
divide between the Silver Fork of the American River and the Truckee
River drainages. Contour and climb around the west slopes of Red
Lake Peak to the adjoining ridge with Stevens Peak. Continue to
the broad summit area. Route B could also be followed.
A great powder run, under the right conditions, drops down the northwest bowl of Stevens Peak. This can be descended all the way to Big Meadows Trailhead on Highway 89. A good intermediate run down roughly Route A to Highway 88 is possible. A car shuttle will be required for these descents.
Warning: A huge avalanche near here in 1978 closed Highway 88 for a few days, after heavy snow, then rain. The road was buried to a depth of 20 feet! Skiing conditions vary greatly on these higher, weather exposed slopes.
TRIP STATS: Route A, 2,000 feet gain, 2 miles one way; Route B, 1,950 feet gain with an additional 450 feet gain on the return, 5.5 miles one way; winter ski ascent, 2,000 feet gain, 4 miles one way on Route B variation, potential loss from the summit of 2,600 feet to the east, and 2,800 feet to the north.
Notes: One could also proceed
to Crater Lake (see Red Lake Peak, Route B, Climb), and then head
cross-country northwest up a drainage to the ridge, or up a spur
ridge leading northwest to the main ridge. The highpoint would
be to the right (northeast). This route avoids the summit cliffs
on Route A.
Stevens Peak goes well with a traverse to Red Lake Peak, with a faint use trail along the top and west side of the interconnecting ridge.
This peak was climbed in February, 1844, by members of the Kit Carson/John C. Fremont expedition, who were then the first European/Americans to view Lake Tahoe.
Much of this area was proposed for wilderness designation as the "Echo-Carson Wilderness," but was designated "further planning" by the second USFS Roadless Area Review and Evaluation (RARE II) in 1984. The area has been considered for ski resort development.