Backcountry Skiing Mount Rose Wilderness

Easy access makes Mt Rose a great place for your next backcountry adventure.

Mount Rose represents an extinct volcano. It is a notable mountain jutting up out of the surrounding landscape as the highest mountain in Washoe County, in the Carson Range of Nevada. Its namesake ski area actually rests on the flanks of Slide Mountain while the summit of Mount Rose proper lies between Reno and Lake Tahoe, just northwest of Mt Rose Pass / NV- 431. This tour boasts spectacular views from the summit and solitude as you escape the crowds that can frequent this popular trailhead.

What Makes It Great

Not for the faint of heat, this tour checks off one of the more prominent peaks in the region and the access is not direct. This is a destination, objective-driven ski tour with the intent of standing atop this giant and looking back down over the Lake Tahoe Basin and the Carson Valley. Seldom does the top of this peak collect enough snow for good skiing directly from the summit.

There are natural half-pipe like ‘chutes’ that extend down the south flank of the mountain that, in the right conditions, can hold snow well and make for the most skiable lines off on the mountain. The summit can make up a steep wind swept scree field prompting some teams of skiers to boot pack up the chutes themselves, stopping at the top of the snowline, to avoid down climbing over rocks. On big snow seasons the long northeast drainage can be followed down towards Whites Creek, requiring a shuttle back to the parking.

Who is Going to Love It

This tour is great for those that enjoy a longer day out on skis and some great skiing. This climb requires a transition back to skins after skiing down to the Galena Creek before you begin the climb up Mount Rose. Some skiers enjoy skinning up to the right and climbing the south saddle between East and West Galena Peaks and skiing down the popular Fireplug zone before donning skins and starting back up the southwest flank of Mount Rose.

From here head to the saddle between Mount Rose and Mount Houghton and switchback the west aspect, up a similar approach as the summer trail to the summit. For the best ski experience time your trip just right, pay attention to when the south gullies are perfectly loaded, watch the snow fall and wind loading, and of course the avalanche report, and you could catch a more than 2000 foot descent back down the south gullies to Galena Creek.

Exercise caution as always when traveling in avalanche terrain; make sure your group is equipped with avalanche shovels, beacons, probes and most importantly the knowledge to avoid avalanches and use your equipment. If Mount Rose is your winter ski objective for the day, a map and some basic route finding skills are required.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

This tour gets started from the same trailhead as Tamarack and Galena Peaks, just on the east side of the summit of Mount Rose Pass. During seasons with warmer temps or higher snow levels the Mount Rose Pass area represents some of the highest elevation backcountry skiing around and the trailhead can reflect this as well. Most hikers from here are headed straight past Galena to the Hourglass Bowl on Tamarack Peak. To get to Mount Rose head up to the natural saddle just past Galena Peaks on your right and as you reach the small saddle look proud south aspect of Mount Rose will come into view in front of you.

Featured image provided by Ben Hogan

Be Prepared

Remember to always check the avalanche forecast at the Sierra Avalanche Center before you head out into the backcountry.

Make sure you have the proper gear including a beacon, shovel and probe. If you don’t have this gear or you think it’s time to update your old gear please come visit us at the shop, call us or shop online at our TMS Amazon Store.

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