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Desolation Wilderness Winter Backpacking advice

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Desolation Wilderness Winter Backpacking advice

Postby Varun916 » Tue Dec 22, 2009 8:15 am

Hi everyone,
I'm planning a backpacking trip at desolation wilderness with my friend. We're thinking of going up on the 26th for a 3/4 day backpacking trek. We did badger pass a couple of years ago on snowshoes and it was a blast. We thought we'd try something different this time.

I've never been to the desolation area so I have no idea what to expect. I see a lot of trails, but I'm assuming that they're snowed over during the winter. Are there any snowshoe trails, or do you just make your path as you go?

Also for the desolation area, would you recommend snowshoes or backcountry skiis? I figure with the skiis, we'd be able to cover more ground. I'm just concerned about getting into hilly or forested areas with skiis. If anyone has experience with this area, please chime in.

Thanks!
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Postby Palisades79 » Tue Dec 22, 2009 3:44 pm

The 26th is probably too early with too low snow cover for an interesting 3/4 day trip. I'd wait until the Echo Lakes are more frozen and there is several more feet of snow . I think the best introduction to the Desolation Wilderness is to start at the Hwy. 50 Snopark ,ski to Echo Chalet ,cross Echo Lakes and set up a base camp at Aloha Lake . Take day trips to Ralston,Pyramid, Dicks ,etc. There are good views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra crest from lot's of places. It's definitly ski country . Have a great trip !
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Postby ScottyP » Tue Dec 22, 2009 4:37 pm

+1 for Palisades recc. That was my introduction to Desolation in the wintertime. Great skiing to be had as wel on the peaks he mentioned. And, you are in a great open bowl area at Aloha for gazing at the peaks.
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Postby Varun916 » Tue Dec 22, 2009 5:48 pm

Hi everyone,
Thanks for the great advice. So the impression I'm getting is that skiis are better than snowshoes, and stick to flat ground for safety.

Palisades, in your opinion what would be a good time to get out there? Also would I have to worry about avalanches on the peaks?

Also does anyone know if we have to reserve beforehand, or can we just go pick up permits at the stations? it seems there's no quota for winter camping so I don't know why they'd make us reserve.

Thanks!
Last edited by Varun916 on Tue Dec 22, 2009 5:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby finckster » Tue Dec 22, 2009 7:26 pm

Echo Lakes weren't even close to frozen as of Sunday 12/20. About half of the lower lake was visibly water. And some ridges and south-facing slopes were pretty bare, although you can certainly find plenty of snow if you stick to northern/shaded/protected areas.
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