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The Heart of Desolation -- Bagging Dicks Peak,
January 2003

Bluebird Days, Warm Nights.  We couldn't have timed it better for a trip to Dicks Peak in the heart of Lake Tahoe's Desolation Wilderness -- skies were clear, visibility seemed infinite, a full moon was on the rise, temperatures in the mountains were springlike, and a three-day holiday weekend allowed for an overnight getaway.


Spring skiing in January, who would've thought? 



Last summer I embarked on a hike through the high country of the Desolation Wilderness.  That hike -- which I termed the "Desolation Death March" -- covered nearly 26 miles, topped seven major area summits and involved nearly 12,000 vertical feet of climbing in two days.  In addition to my desire to experience this awesome territory in summertime on foot, one of the principal goals of that trip was to scout suitable routes and peaks for backcountry skiing.  One of the peaks I had my eye on was Dicks Peak.  It sits nearly smack dab in the middle of the Desolation Wilderness.  At 9,974' above sea level, it is the third highest summit in Desolation -- only nine feet shy of the highest (Pyramid Peak) -- and looked to harbor some lovely ski lines.  Having admired the views from Dicks Peak in the summer, I immediately made plans to bag it and ski from its summit in the winter.

I contacted Chris Gallardo ("bcrider"), my now regular backcountry companion, to sell him on the plan.  Chris was in, and he put the feelers out on the talk forum at telemarktips.com.  Not surprisingly,  Fred Hochstaedter ("Sierra Fred"), my bud from our epic Big Kuna trip, was among the first to respond in the affirmative.  Soon we had a pretty good group pulled together and the planning and logistics emails started flying back and forth.

Fred and Chris planned to ski in on Friday morning, make camp near Azure Lake, and enjoy the shots off of the Kalmia Ridge.  They were joined by Charley ("Whiteout"), Zeke, and Chris's friend and fellow backcountry splitboarder Mark.  Telenater and I rounded out the group; we planned to ski in and join the others in camp on Saturday morning.  Sunday was all about bagging Dicks Peak and getting out to the cars.


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