Skiing the Hidden Gem of the Humboldt Range, Star Peak

By: Ben Hogan

Humboldt Range

Access: Star Canyon Road, Nevada 400 (Bloody Canyon Road), South of I-80

With the Tahoe snowpack looking deep and reliable, Dave and I gambled and headed out to the desert where snow reports are minimal, and the peaks are more seldom seen by skiers. After turning south off of I-80 we set out on Nevada State Route 400 turning west up Star Canyon Road. We hoped for snow down to the access roads and pushed the van as high as we could. 

Star Peak is the highest mountain in the Humboldt Range and offers 5,400ft of relief down to the desert floor. With a summit of 9,840ft Star Peak has impressive prominence. Remnants of mining in the area abounds and skier tracks are few and far between in this often-overlooked area of Nevada. 

The forecasted winds were present throughout our two days of ski touring, but we made the best of it and marveled at the myriad of ski options in the basin. On day 1 we headed for the summit of Star Peak via the Northeast face. The tour began on the snow-covered access road to Star Canyon at around 5,640ft. As we gained the summit ridge gale force winds were upon us and we topped out at the weather station without walking the wind-scoured ridge the additional ½ mile or so to the true summit. 

The skiing was variable, it ranged from packed cold snow and firm icier conditions to wind deposited powder fields, we were treated with a wide range of skiable snow and made the best of it. Impressive cornices lined the North-South ridgeline as the desert snow blasted into the basin we were skiing. Given a bluebird powder day or reliable corn conditions, this spot boasts quite a few enticing lines we have yet to come back to explore.

On day 2 we were greeted by 35-40mph winds at the van and kept the tour below the ridges to avoid being gusted over to Utah! Nonetheless we continued to find wind-blown powder stashed around the leeward slopes of the North face of Star Peak. With more time and less wind, we were drawn to explore the East Couloir; we will have to return. The other two prominent peaks in the area that make up the basin and look ripe for ripping turns are Van Zant Peak and Thunder Mountain. 

This was my first trip skiing the desert peaks of Nevada. I’m looking forward to more summits in the Great Basin and more banner ski years around these parts! 

Check out our blog on a spring skiing essential, crampons.

Author: Ben Hogan


Ben is first and foremost a local skier. He loves the search for good snow and doesn't mind a long day in the skin track to find it. When there is no fresh snow around Ben entertains himself with Nordic skiing, trail running and mountain biking. Ben loves being a part of the TMS team for the camaraderie and love for the outdoors as well as to check out new gear and offer an opinion. Keep your eye out for "that guy skiing with a baby on his chest" as he shows his new daughter and future ripper, Stella, some of his favorite stashes.

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