1,000’ – 2,300’
8,600’ – 10,300’ (1,700’)
Round Top is the most iconic destination in the Carson Pass area, and its namesake round summit can be seen from almost any high point in the South Lake area. For most people who make the approach, the Crescent Couloir is the objective of choice. Dropping into this couloir will get your heart pounding. A double fall line snow field rolls over from the summit, requiring a committing entrance skier’s right into the narrow couloir. Obviously, snowpack stability is of the utmost importance when attempting this chute. Below the snowfield entrance are a lot of cliffs and exposure, so choose your day wisely. Of course the alternative to skiing into the couloir from the top is to boot pack up from the bottom. Feeding into the Crescent Couloir near the bottom is Hidden Couloir, a fun alternative if Crescent is skied out. Beware, that if boot packing from the bottom, people from the top could be skiing above you without warning.
If hair-raising couloirs don’t tickle your fancy, Round Top has a lot more to offer. The slopes above Winnemucca Lake have a lot of rolling, alpine terrain, with a number of small chutes coming out of the rock band atop the ridge. Also, a less committing descent drops west off the summit below The Sisters. If you’re searching for corn and a long day, then look no further than Round Top’s south face. A huge corn bowl descends off the summit saddle, and drops over 2,300’ feet into Summit City Creek and the Mokelumne Wilderness. What goes down must come back up, and if making this descent, be prepared to switchback your way out. Looking at the map of Round Top on a larger scale, you will notice that this large south aspect is part of the larger Mokelumne River watershed. This drainage was one of the major migration routes Native Americans used to get from the Central Valley to the Eastern Sierra and back. Following this valley from the foothills was one of the easiest paths into the heart of the Sierra, allowing a shorter, and much less arduous journey over the pass.
Between the parking lot and Round Top lies a closer ski destination called Elephant’s Back. This small dome has a great bowl that drops 1,400’ east into Forestdale Creek. These runs grow great corn and make for a fun addition to Round Top area touring.
Parking for Round Top is at the Carson Pass Sno-Park (permit required). From the “Y” in South Lake Tahoe, drive 4.7 miles on highway 50 into Meyers, and take a left (south) onto highway 89. Drive 11 miles on highway 89, over Luther Pass and to the 88-89 junction. Take a right (west) onto highway 88, and drive another 9 miles to Carson Pass and the Sno-Park. Skin due south from the car, contouring low below Frog Lake and Elephant’s Back to Winnemucca Lake. From here, ascend the west side of Round Top, through the saddle shared with The Sisters.