Sugarbowl to Squaw Valley

28 Aug 2004 - by Ted Lenzie

On 8/28/04, participants Dave W, Marina K, Steve K, Susan P, Cara L, Alan B, Karan O, Les G, Rick S, Philip L, Sarah R, Greg W, and Myself hiked and climbed several peaks from Sugarbowl to Squaw Valley ski resorts. Normally, this route is done on the PCT but we took a more cross-country approach. Our goal was to summit Mount Judah, Lincoln, Anderson and Tinker Knob. We ran a shuttle leaving cars at Squaw Valley and driving to the base of the Mount Judah ski lift. One warning if you do this. The gate into the resort closes early but if you walk back to your car it does open automatically for exiting vehicles. Also there is a call box at the gate but the attendant may not always be there.

We left at 9:30 AM and started up 1,200 feet toward the top of the Mount Judah chair. As we climbed we crossed the PCT as we would many time throughout the day. Once at the end of the chairlift it was a straight forward dirt climb to some relay towers on the Judah summit ridge. On top it was easy to look south and see Mount Judah proper. Heading south we crossed the PCT again. There was a slight gain to the top of Judah. There are excellent views of surrounding peaks and lakes including Donner Lake, Castle, Basin, and Lincoln peaks which happened to be our next destination.

Dropping down the Judah-Lincoln saddle we again contacted the PCT. This time we took the trail to the bottom of the saddle where we met a large group of hikers. Some of them we knew. Sugarbowl to Squaw Valley via the PCT is very popular so with that said our route of picking off peaks in between offered us a little solitude. We began our ascent of Mount Lincoln heading due west. The gain was approximately 500 feet. This would go on all day since it was a ridge climb each summit had a nominal gain between the loss on each saddle. Once on top of Mount Lincoln we took a short break and made our way back to the PCT.

We followed the PCT for a short while and started back on the treeless ridge line. We continued south along several no name knobs with spectacular views of the Tahoe area. The last knob had a very small easy class 3 section. After dropping off the last knob we were again on the PCT for a short time until we arrived at the Benson hut. This place was surrounded by hikers from both directions. We left the trail and started the ascent up Anderson Peak from its north face. This was a fairly easy chute with some rock fall hazards if the climber doesn't take a little care. On top, Anderson is mostly flat with two small bulges at the east and west ends. We sat there a short time and started our descent south on a straight forward but loose talus slope.

We stayed on the ridge line south looking at the cliffs and slopes that gave away to the east. Once again we crossed the PCT and began our summit of Tinker Knob. I would call it a class 2 accent but depending on experience a novice may feel they are bordering on class 3. We did the 360 degree view thing once more and returned to the trail. At this point we stayed on trail all the way to Squaw Valley.

Three words of warning. Water is scarce on this route in the late summer and fall. In addition, the only lake available (Mountain Meadow Lake) has restricted access. Last, there is a fork in the PCT that says 4 miles to Squaw Valley, however after hiking 2 miles there is another fork in the trail that leaves the PCT and drops to Squaw Valley again says 4 miles. The first sign refers to an older trail that once existed, but the newer trail wraps around increasing the overall total mileage.

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