Roundtop and roundabout

17 Mar 1996 - by Arun Mahajan

George Van Gorden (leader), Dennis Hilpakka, Richard and Helena Verrow, Scott Kreider, Ted Raczek and Arun Mahajan

16th March, Saturday. Red Lake Peak.

We all gathered at about 11 am at the snow-park at Carson Pass, a few miles north of the Kirkwood XC Ski place. (Remember to obtain the snow-park permits which cost $3 per day at the XC place, else there is a $75.00 citation.) We hiked with full packs for about a mile south of the pass and set up camp. Then we set off for Red Lake Peak which is on the north side of the pass. This peak is not visible from the pass. The climbing begins almost right away and we had to use snowshoes. After some steep uphill, we came to the shoulder of the first hill which is the begining of the ridge that goes eastwards to the summit. Potential avalanche danger made George decide on going this way rather than go straight up the chute leading to the summit. Here we dropped our snow shoes and climbed the first hill. Then we put on our crampons, though they were not strictly needed. There final walk is a little strenous and it was cold when the wind picked up. With George leading the way, we were soon at the summit at 3 pm after a total of 2.5 hrs from the camp site. We had good views of Pyramid Peak and Tahoe and Roundtop. Then, a little more than an hour of brisk down climbing got us back down to the pass.

I did not see this peak in the SPS list. Wonder why? It is a beautiful summit.

The first ascent

17th March, Sunday. Roundtop Mountain.

We started at 8.30 am in snowshoes towards Roundtop. We mostly stuck to the XC-ski trail and once we got out of the woods, Roundtop was in full view. It is a very picturesque peak with a steep summit block. Between us and the peak is some excellent ski terrain, heaven for back-country skiiers. George was on his skis, the rest had snowshoes. We slogged to the base, and then we climbed to the final ridge from the gully on the right, as it was rather steep to go straight up to the ridge. Once on the ridge, we switched to crampons. The snow was crusty. I suppose we could have done without crampons too, but having an axe was very prudent. George led the push. It was quite steep but the snow wasnt hard or icy and after some cautious climbing we reached the summit. It had taken us 3 hrs from the camp. After lunch and basking in the balmy sun ('vibing with nature' as Helena called it) and soaking-in the glaciated scenery, we started down. Again after some careful descending and after the trudge thru the rest of the trail, we were back at the camp site. It had taken us 3 hrs to the summit, and a little over 2 hours to get back to the tent site.

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