0 - 0.75 miles
1,400’ – 1,900’
7,400 – 10,100 (2,700)
N, E, S, W
Red Lake Peak sits looming over highway 88 above Carson Pass. This peak, and its neighbor, Steven’s Peak, present a diverse winter playground, with terrain to suit nearly any snow condition and ability. Views here stretch from Lake Tahoe, to the Central Valley, and south beyond Ebbett’s Pass. Beginning with what is most obvious from the road, the east face stretches wide below Red Lake’s false summit. This option offers open, fall line descents, maintaining consistent pitch for up to 1,400ft. A blind roll leading into this descent will leave you questioning which line your on, so be sure to memorize how to get into it. Between Red Lake and Steven’s is Crater Lake, and a bowl above it that could easily host a freeskiing competition. The easily distracted skier might get left behind their group while drooling over the potential above Crater Lake. From the summit, another descent option includes the southeast bowl that transitions into a long, halfpipe-like gully, running 2,000ft down to highway 88. This is the type of feature that is a textbook avalanche path, so travel wisely. As a note, I have successfully traversed from the bottom of this gully, all the way under the east face, and back to the lower lot without putting skins back on, a nice plus to navigating this area. All the descents listed so far are slide-prone in the right conditions. If you are at all doubtful of stability, good, low-angle turns can still be found in the Aspen grove below Crater Lake, or in Steven’s more mellow valleys. It is also worth mentioning that a car shuttle or hitchhike can be done here to shave 1,100 vertical feet off the initial summit climb. This is done by leaving a car in the lower lot, and starting your tour from the Carson Pass Sno-Park.
To get to Red Lake Peak from the “Y” in South Lake, drive 4.7 miles south on hwy 50 to the town of Meyers, and turn south onto highway 89. Drive 11 miles from Meyers to the highway 88-89 junction. Turn right (west) onto hwy 88, and set the odometer for 5.4 miles. There are large plowed pullouts on both sides of the road here, where Red Lake Creek crosses under highway 88. Continue another 3.5 miles from the lower parking to park at the Carson Pass Sno-Park (permit required). This is an option for a shorter ascent, but limits what terrain you can ski without skinning back to the car at the end of the day. If starting at the lower lot, the best ascent path for Red Lake’s summit is on the ridgeline above the east face, best accessed by following Crater Lake’s outlet creek until it meets this ridgeline. This ridge is steep and often icy and ski crampons can be useful. If starting from the Carson Pass Sno-park, begin by skinning north into Red Lake’s south bowl, and ascend the saddle between Red Lake and its southwest sub-peak.