The trip to the summit of Jake's Peak is probably the shortest distance I've ever gone into the backcountry. Starting from DL Bliss Park Headquarters, we had only one and a quarter miles to get to the summit. What it lacks in distance though it makes up for in steepness gaining 2400' in just over a mile. In other words, the perfect peak for roadside snowboarding.
Starting from the parking lot we crossed 89 and headed up a short access road past a couple of buildings. At the end of the road we started up a forested slope. Surprisingly the snow seemed pretty firm, so we opted to leave the snowshoes on our packs. 3 or 4 steps later we were postholing, so the snowshoes went on. The steepness of the slope and the fact that the snow was fairly wet and slushy made snowshoeing difficult, and all of a sudden it seemed easier to clamber over boulders and logs and wade through waist high devil bushes, so the snowshoes went back on the pack. These short sections of dry land were interspersed with short sections of snow, however, and trying to get up a 35 degree slope postholing to your thigh in heavy snow just isn't that much fun. So out came the snowshoes, unless of course, lacking dignity and self respect you opted to crawl through these sections. It all proved too much for the tele skier in our group trying to skin up and he bailed at about 7490'.
Conditions improved greatly at 7500' and we continued on with a diminished force of two boarders and a skier on A/T gear. At about 7800' we passed to the north of a rocky outcrop and got our first view of the summit. We had a brief break from the climbing as we traversed across the south side of a drainage to the bottom of the next forested slope. Here we picked up a snowshoe track which made the going a bit easier and we continued onward and upward to the summit elevation of 9187'.
The snow was pretty firm on the final stretch below the summit so we opted to lay around and wait for it to soften up for the descent. While admiring the killer views of the Lake, Emerald Bay, Tallac, and the peaks from Carson Pass and the Desolation Wilderness, Dave found a full can of Red Bull sitting on a boulder.
Mark: "Red Bull gives you wings."
Dave: "Too bad we didn't find it at the bottom."
Shortly after noon, Mark got first tracks on an opening pitch of about 40 degrees. The grade soon eases a bit as the trees start to close in and we continued to rip turns through perfect corn to about 8000'.
Finished with corn, we moved on to mashed potatoes. When the potatoes ran out, a silent competition to see who could get the closest to the car with out taking off the boards started. Dave quickly proved he had what it took to win when he rode up on a log and leapt whole heartedly onto a four foot tall manzanita bush, somehow coming out the other side intact and eventually making it to within 50 feet of the road. Mark and I held our heads in shame as we had to twice unclick and walk 10 feet or so around logs and boulders.
We all agreed the descent was well worth it, and that Jake's is probably history until next year.