1,300’ - 2,200’
7,400’ – 10,900’ (3,500’)
Towering over the region, Freel Peak is Tahoe’s tallest mountain, checking in at 10,881’. Neighbors of Freel, Job’s Sister (10,823’) and Job’s Peak (10,633’) comprise the Jobs-Freel group, a massive sub-range of East Tahoe’s Carson Range. Although Freel holds the title of being Tahoe’s highest peak, it receives little attention from backcountry skiers due to the lengthy approach and often wind-scoured conditions. However, standing on this unique summit should be on every skier’s bucket list, with some of Tahoe’s most striking views. From the top, one can see well into the Carson Valley, all of Lake Tahoe, west into Desolation and south past Ebbetts Pass. An incredible mental image to ponder from the top, consider that the bottom of Lake Tahoe is deeper than the Carson Valley! Skiing Freel is quite an adventure, and one you will likely have to yourself.
There are two different trailheads to access this mountain, both with the same ascent of about 6 miles from car to summit. The route that starts from High Meadow Trail is 1000’ more elevation gain, but is more conducive to skiing Freel’s north aspects or Trimmer Peak on the way back. However, for the standard approach that better accesses Freel’s southern aspects, start from the Luther Pass side. This will properly position you to ski Freel’s most desirable descents, which point you back towards the car at Luther Pass. Snowmobiles are allowed on the summer road from Luther Pass up to Horse Meadow, opening up the possibility for easier access. Skiing Freel is best in spring-like weather, when the windswept summit has more predictable avalanche and snow conditions. The main descent is the south bowl, directly off the summit. Other notable options include the main chute off the Freel’s north face, and the north facing terrain off of nearby Job’s Sister, descending into Star Lake. Freel’s north chute is an impressive line between two rock fins, and is easily visible from across north and west Tahoe summits. Skiing powder through this chute is a rare treat, given the exposed nature of this alpine line.
To get to the primary approach from Luther Pass, drive 4.8 miles west on Highway 50 from the “Y” in South Lake, until reaching the 50-89 junction in the town of Meyers. Turn south onto highway 89 and drive an additional 8.5 miles until reaching Luther Pass. Park in a small pullout on the south side of highway 89, less than 1 mile east of the pass. There is a gated, snow-covered road here that will point you towards the rest of the 4 mile approach. Contour along this south facing slope, aiming for the north fork of Willow Creek, a drainage that will take you to the base of Freel’s south bowl.
For the High Meadow Trail approach, drive 2 miles east on Highway 50 from the “Y” in South Lake Tahoe. Turn right onto Al Tahoe Blvd, which ends after 1.6 miles, where you will take a right onto Pioneer Trail. After 1 mile on Pioneer Trail, take a left onto High Meadow Trail (look for the elementary school). Continue up High Meadow Trail through the neighborhood for less than a mile to where it dead-ends. From this cul-de-sac trailhead, skin up the main valley between Monument Peak (Heavenly) and Trimmer Peak. Continue up this valley, staying to the left when in doubt. Avoid the many small drainages on the right towards Trimmer, as they have the tendency to suck you in and create unnecessary side hilling.