Trip Report
Tahoe Snow and Ice

by Ed H
Friday December 20, 2013 2:09pm
Fresh snow last week, so a couple of friends and I went up to check it out. This was originally a ski/snowboard trip, until I invited a ropegun climbing partner of mine. Turns out he is also an ice climber, so he gave me a nice tour of Tahoe ice - yea!
Tahoe Ice
Tahoe Ice
Credit: Ed H
Our first stop was Lake Audrain, a beautiful spot on Echo Summit. Park on Hwy 50 and hike/snow shoe in about a mile. The ice forms on cliff bands south of the lake - we didn’t find any ice, but had a great morning snowshoeing around looking for it.
Snow covered boulders on the Lake Audrain approach
Snow covered boulders on the Lake Audrain approach
Credit: Ed H

Lake Audrain
Lake Audrain
Credit: Ed H
Our next stop was Cascade Falls. For the approach, you park at Inspiration Point Vista and hike about a mile south to the falls. The approach follows a trail up to a ridge, and then drops down to the creek. The views are killer - Cascade Lake and Lake Tahoe in the distance. We were in luck - the falls were frozen with some fat ice on the left, and marginal, but climbable ice the rest of the way over. Unfortunately it was too late in the day to climb, so we bailed and headed back to the cabin.
Looking down on Cascade Falls from approach trail
Looking down on Cascade Falls from approach trail
Credit: Ed H
Friday was opening day at Alpine Meadows – we loaded up the snowboards and got our first turns of the season. Summit chair was open, no crowds, and the snow was amazing for early Dec. Did laps in Wolverine Bowl and Waterfall – awesome! Got to love the mid-week Tahoe vibe.

On Saturday, several of the guys went to climb Cascade Falls, while I rode Squaw with another friend. It was the weekend, so they shared the ice with several parties, but a good time was had by all. I’m still waiting for some actual ice climbing pictures from my friends, but in the mean time, here are a few that Toper42 posted over on MP from that day.
Climbers on Cascade Falls Dec 14, 2013
Climbers on Cascade Falls Dec 14, 2013
Credit: Topher 42 from MP

Sunset on Cascade
Sunset on Cascade
Credit: Topher42 from MP
View from the base of Cascade Falls
View from the base of Cascade Falls
Credit: Ed H
Sunday was the aesthetic highlight of the trip for me. We packed up to investigate Eagle Creek Falls, aka SunnyFalls. I’ve had this area on my rock climbing ‘to do’ list for years, but I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never made it past 90 Foot Wall, despite the Super Topo cover photo…

We parked at the Eagle Lakes Trailhead along 89, and hiked in – it’s about one mile and gains 500 ft. From there, the canyon’s beauty really hits you – Maggies Peak to the Southeast, Eagle Buttress to the Northeast, and frozen Eagle Lake in the middle.
Eagle Lake with Eagle Butress? in background
Eagle Lake with Eagle Butress? in background
Credit: Ed H
Looking back on Maggie's Peak
Looking back on Maggie's Peak
Credit: Ed H
We skirted the frozen lake to the left and started up Eagle Creek. The creek is frozen this time of year and offers the lowest bush whack path up to the falls. The beauty and solitude is amazing
The Sunny Falls in Eagle Creek Canyon
The Sunny Falls in Eagle Creek Canyon
Credit: Ed H
Sunny Falls using 'Pano' feature
Sunny Falls using 'Pano' feature
Credit: Ed H
Credit: Ed H
Sunny!
Sunny!
Credit: Ed H
The sun was blazing by now, turning the ice back to water. Ropegun got some sticks in but decided the ice was too soft, wet, and unstable to climb today. On our way out there was group skating on the lake with hockey sticks, puck, and dog!
Hiking out
Hiking out
Credit: Ed H
Bold hockey players
Bold hockey players
Credit: Ed H

This was my first exposure to ice climbing - I can certainly see the allure of it - the snowshoe approach, the gear, swinging the sticks, but what really got me was the beauty of the ice, and the solitude of location.
No Tahoe trip is complete without a trip to the Tahoe City pier to watch the sunset. See you in Tahoe! Beauty!
Tahoe City pier
Tahoe City pier
Credit: Ed H
My best sunset shot from the pier last year
My best sunset shot from the pier last year
Credit: Ed H
More beta
Overview of Tahoe ice climbing areas:
http://grecx.com/ice-climbing/
Used gear
http://www.geartrade.com/
REI Berkeley rents Koflach Degree boots for $10 per day
http://www.koflach.com/en/parsepage.php?tpl=tpl_index
Climber dies setting up TR on Cascade Falls
http://www.laketahoenews.net/2012/01/cal-student-dies-in-climbing-accident-at-cascade-falls/
Sunny Falls video
http://youtu.be/-9l32Ce6k5U
Cold Stream video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGyE7cl_XfU
Cascade video
http://youtu.be/7Wsv9DV-9-k

  Trip Report Views: 2,142
Ed H
About the Author
Ed H is a trad climber from Santa Rosa.

Comments
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kaholatingtong

Trad climber
Nevada City
  Dec 20, 2013 - 02:14pm PT
TFPU!!!
10b4me

climber
  Dec 20, 2013 - 04:30pm PT
TFPU
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
  Dec 20, 2013 - 04:32pm PT
I find it amazing that cascade falls now has multiple parties on it.. I never once saw anyone there bitd.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Dec 20, 2013 - 05:22pm PT
How many people used to climb ice BITD? No facebook=no reason to ice climb. Now everyone wants to post a photo of them top roping it. It is so bad ass!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Dec 21, 2013 - 02:22pm PT
Nice ice Ed!!!!
Mimi

climber
  Dec 21, 2013 - 02:28pm PT
Interesting that you hadn't ice climbed before, Ed. Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the nice shots of Tahoe. It looks like you missed the experience of the screaming barfies, so you must get back out there soon. LOL!
tahoe tom

Trad climber
camas wa and incline village nevada
  Dec 25, 2013 - 12:42am PT
Thanks for the report! Its nice to know eagle lake is in without having to hike justb to check
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
  Dec 29, 2013 - 11:08am PT
That area of Eagle Lake is my go-to place to take people who can't hike very far. An easy hike with spectacular views from start to finish. Nice to see some pics of it in winter.
Thanks Ed H.
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