Elegant Elephant
(Elephant's Back instead of Round Top)

25 Jun 2005 - by Greg Wilson

Our party of two, Patrick age 9 and dad started the 2005 peak-bagging season with Round Top in mind. Carson Pass had numerous patches of snow under the trees making following the first mile of trail difficult. We were the first on trail that day so didn't have the luxury of following others footsteps, but made our own way through light brush to the PCT junction at the base of Elephant's Back. The trail toward Winnemucca Lake was all snow as was the north slope of Round Top all the way to the saddle. We hadn't brought axes or crampons so opted for the easier Elephant's Back in front of us.

Our ascent followed use trails to the west of the north ridge line. This scree slope was steep at about 35 degrees, but not terribly loose so going up was pretty straight forward. Wind chill had us bring out jackets and nylon pants which came in handy later when on the decent Patrick slid on his rear down some of the larger snow patches. The summit was refreshingly expansive and level, but watch the south east slope which drops off vertically about 80 feet. We had lunch on the precipice and lounged on top for almost an hour.

We came down a slightly more westerly route (about middle of the west face) and found the slope there to be considerably more loose and steeper about 40-45 degrees. Not difficult to travel, but the tumbling, sliding scree did bruise our ankles a few times.

We were able to keep track of the trail back to the car much more easily than on the way in by following the footsteps of about a dozen day hikers who had chewed up the snow patches. I found a lack of trail markers interesting. Perhaps this little section of the PCT is frequented more in later months when the snow is not so common. Parking at Carson Pass was three dollars.

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