In the summer, the Desolation Wilderness is one of the most visited wilderness areas in the nation, and sees hoards of backpackers and day hikers wandering through its reaches. However, upon first snowfall, visitation drops to only a handful of hardy backcountry skiers, and remains desolate until the snow melts again. Often, Desolation is the first and last place to hold snow in the Tahoe region, although reaching it might require hiking boots in the early/late season. This zone is characterized by rolling high alpine terrain, loads of remote 9,000’ peaks, copious snowfall, and a fraction of the skier traffic. Dick’s Peak, although slightly shorter than Pyramid, is the area’s quintessential attraction, and is visible from high points across the Tahoe region. Alpine starts are the key to a successful day in Desolation, as most of the peaks in the region have lengthy approaches. Although perfectly reasonable in winter conditions, many save Desolation trips for spring-like conditions when there is less avalanche danger and easier trail breaking. Beyond the scope of most backcountry skiers, deep in the Northwest corner of Desolation, the Crystal Range beckons the determined individual. With an approach double the length and time it takes to get to Dick’s, the Crystal’s McConnell Peak sees only a few people on its summit each winter. Any way you choose to ski it, Desolation rewards motivated groups with solitude and untracked snow. Access to Desolation occurs from 4 main areas: the Emerald Bay, Bayview, Echo Lakes and Twin Bridges trailheads. The road to the south end of Fallen Leaf Lake is usually open by the late spring, providing closer access to Dick’s and Jack’s peaks.