WADE (9,367') CLASS 2
Location: 3 miles N of Woodfords, CA
Drive: Take Highway 88/89 to a wide, primitive parking area on the north side of the highway, across from Snowshoe Springs Campground. This point is 18.2 miles west from Minden Junction (junction of Highway 88 and U.S. 395) or 2.0 miles east from Picketts Junction (western junction of Highway 88 and Highway 89). There is a wide dirt shoulder to park on the south side of the highway near the campground. An outhouse is available at the campground.
Climb: Take the trail north, marked by a sign, "Horsethief Canyon Trail." It climbs up the side of the steep, brushy, and rocky canyon wall and traverses into the side canyon to the east. There is a log bench 0.3 mile up. Some intricate, volcanic mud flow spires and cliffs appear across the creek to the east. After 1.5 miles, pass through a wire gate, then, after a short while, intersect a major dirt road with a sign "end of maintained trail." There are two ways to go here.
Going right on the dirt road, descend a short way to cross a creek, then begin climbing on this road, which is in an advanced stage of decay. There are berms, new growth, rocks, and fallen trees. A long switchback to the left is followed by a curve to the right. Ignore a clearing to the left. After coming to another clearing with cut trees, curve left again, still following the decaying track. After about a mile from the creek crossing, come to a clearing where the road switchbacks sharply to the right. At the far side of this clearing, head level and straight north through a thicket of aspen and clamber over fallen trees for about 100 feet. A very decayed, somewhat hidden track leads northward. A wretched footpath is discernible in its center. Follow this old track north as it climbs slightly. In over a mile, this leads to the unsigned pass between Fredericksburg Canyon and Horsethief Canyon.
Alternatively, from the sign, "end of maintained trail," follow the major dirt road left, ignoring the dead-end spurs, and after a mile, the road switchbacks sharply to the left (it will continue to go over the ridge to the Willow Creek drainage).
Leave the road at this switchback and head cross-country north or northeast up the valley. You will encounter thickets of aspen and willows with seeps and bogs for about the next mile. It seems best to stay to the left of the aspen groves, then, as you get above them, cut right. After reaching fields of sagebrush and mule ears, head slightly right to intersect the decayed track that heads toward the pass between the two afterforementioned canyons. You will probably rather have taken the dirt road right, back at the sign, "end of maintained trail."
From the unsigned pass, proceed cross-country aiming southeast. Stay just to the left of the rocky ridge, heading for the left side of the low peak 9,360+. Avoid the brush, and traverse around the left side of the low peak 9,360+. A good navigator can contour and climb from the unsigned pass in gradual, open Lodgepole pine forest, curving to the long, broad ridge that leads to the summit. Some short side-hilling may be necessary. No significant elevation loss is required. Most of this route will not have many reference points visible. It is more easily navigated on the return, where sightings can be taken on the ridges and peaks on the far (northwest) side of the unsigned pass.
Reach the long, broad, forested ridge leading northeast to Wade. The peak will be apparent from the low peak 9,360+ as the left, long rockpile with a sharper, lower bump to its right. Ascend the rockpile straight up below its highpoint through dense mountain mahogany (nicknamed "Mountain Misery"), and clamber up talus to the highpoint. There are easier and harder ways to do this!
WINTER SKI ASCENT: Follow Route A, although the rolling terrain allows for almost any variation. It may take a heavy snowfall to generate enough snow cover to ski at the lower elevations of this climb.
TRIP STATS: Route A, 2,900 feet gain with an additional 100 feet gain on the return, 5.5 miles one way.
Notes: Wade is a fairly undistinguished peak, and few visits are made to its summit. It has a fair view of the southern Carson Valley and the Freel massif to its northwest.