Carson Pass to Echo Summit


Summary

Difficulty 5 Advanced
Length 10.7 miles one-way
Starting
Elevation
8550 feet
Cumulative
Elevation
Change
+1450, -2650 feet
Navigation Map and compass
Time Full day
Season Mid-December through mid-April
Snowmobiles Not permitted [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area.]
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Carson Pass, Caples Lake and Echo Lake
Start Meiss Sno-Park, 0.1 mile west of Carson Pass on Highway 88.
End Adventure Mountain located on the south side of Highway 50, 0.2 mile west of the Echo Summit Maintenance Station. This is the site of the now defunct Echo Summit SnoPark. A fee is charged to park here.


Description

This classic tour between Carson and Echo Passes is both very challenging and very rewarding. The high elevation and excellent terrain will provide you with the opportunity to enjoy beautiful panoramas almost the entire distance.

The length of the tour combined with the need for extensive navigation requires that you are a very strong skier with excellent navigation skills. This tour is best left to the spring when the days are longer and the snow (hopefully) more consolidated.

The first half of this tour is identical to the first half of the Carson Pass to Caples Lake Via Showers Lake tour.

This is a variation of the Echo-to-Kirkwood Race and Tour that was sponsored by the El Dorado Nordic Ski Patrol up until 2007. Visit their website for the latest news about whether the race/tour is going to be revitalized. Advantages of the route described in this tour, Carson Pass to Echo Summit, include a net elevation loss of 1200 feet and avoids the groomed Nordic trails at Kirkwood.

However, the route of the race/tour puts the most difficult terrain first and makes the exceedingly steep gully (see mileage log) uphill as opposed to downhill. The Echo Summit to Kirkwood tour in this guide describes that tour (coming soon).

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 1.0
Elevation change: +300, -50 feet

From the Meiss Sno-Park (1) work your way west for 0.5 mile while climbing gradually and then ascend northwest for another 0.5 mile until you reach the obvious broad saddle (2). Early and late in the snow season you may find the south-facing slopes leading to the saddle partially barren. Also, take care to avoid the slopes beneath the southwest ridge of Red Lake Peak, which may be avalanche prone.

Miles: 1.0 - 2.4
Elevation change: -400 feet

Descend north down the gully for 1.4 miles until you reach two old buildings (3) that are operated as the Meiss Ski Hut. You loose nearly all the elevation in the first half of the distance. You will probably find the skiing easiest on the side-slope east (right) of the creek. Once down in the meadow-like terrain you will want to stay on the east (right) side of the creek.

Miles: 2.4 - 3.9
Elevation change: +100, -100 feet

Continue in a generally northwest direction until the meadow opens up and then continue northwest for a total of 1.5 miles until you reach a location (there is no landmark here) from which you can ascend to the northwest to Showers Lake (4).

Miles: 3.9 - 4.4
Elevation change: +350, -50 feet

Ascend northwest for 0.5 mile until you reach Showers Lake (5). This section passes through avalanche terrain.

Miles: 4.4 - 5.7
Elevation change: +350, -50 feet

Ski in a generally northwest direction on a bench for 1.3 miles until you reach the north end of the ridge of which Little Round Top is a part (6). To the west (left) of the bench is a steep ridge and potential avalanche danger, and to the east (right) is a steep drop-off.

Miles: 5.7 - 7.4
Elevation change: +150, -550 feet

Ski north for 1.7 miles until you reach a broad, flat saddle (7) to the east of Bryan Meadow and south of Peak 8905. Ski east to the saddle if you find yourself in the Bryan Meadow.

Miles: 7.4 - 8.2
Elevation change: +150 feet

Climb gradually northeast for 0.8 mile until you reach a flat area on the east spur of Peak 8905 (8).

Miles: 8.2 - 8.4
Elevation change: -200 feet

Descend northwest for 0.2 mile until you find yourself at the top of a steep gully (9).

Miles: 8.4 - 8.9
Elevation change: -450 feet

Descend the gully carefully to the northeast, then ski north before looping around to the southeast for a total of 0.5 mile until you reach level terrain (10). Be aware that this gully is a potential avalanche chute. If the gully is icy you may find it easier to walk down. You may also find it easier and safer to descend through the trees alongside the gully.

You should pick up blue diamond trail markers somewhere between here and the end of the tour.

Miles: 8.9 - 10.0
Elevation change: -650 feet

Descend north and then northeast down the drainage, passing through a small meadow, for a total of 1.1 miles until you reach Benwood Meadow (11).

Miles: 10.0 - 10.7
Elevation change: +50, -150 feet

Continue north for 0.7 mile until you reach the parking area at Adventure Mountain (12).

Elevation Profile
Elevation profile
Link to eleveation profile
Link to waypoint data
Map 2 for tour

Map 1 for tour
Link to full page map
Link to see and submit reviews and corrections about tour