Washoe County High Point Trip Report

Mount Rose

Date: February 29, 2004
Author: Robert Greene

In deference to leap day, I had to leave behind my dearly beloved California and journey to the wilderness of Nevada. I thought this would be a nice stroll in the park (a la Kirk Mallory's trip report) but so much for that theory!

We camped overnight at the Mount Rose campground (the sign said it was closed, but it took about an hour to dig the sign out of the snow enough to read that, so we figured it didn't count) on Saturday. The weather forecast said 20% chance of snow on Saturday and 10% on Sunday; Saturday night was clear but cold, so it looked good. We were a bit worried about weather since all last week was snow, and this week is forecast for more snow, so we wanted to squeeze Rose in the 48 hour block of no-snow.

Our start was from a scenic overlook parking lot (on the east side of 431, about 1/2 mile before the Mount Rose campground) at 8760 feet at 9am. The trailhead could not be located -- we found a firehouse looking place but the entire structure was about half buried in snow, and there was no sign of how the jeep road connected to the main road at that point, so we opted not to start there. Instead, we cut directly across from the parking lot and intersected the jeep trail higher up the hill. The first part of the jeep trail was "marked" by snowshoe trails, so wasn't too bad to follow. Eventually we moved into the snowmobile section of the trail, which made it easier to follow the road, plus actually gave us some compacted snow to walk on, but the jeep trail quickly came to an end as we entered the Mount Rose wilderness.

We followed cross country ski tracks along the rough route we wanted - they eventually went off course, and we had to trail-blaze a bit. The ski tracks really didn't break the trail very well, and we were postholing about two feet in (with snowshoes). Lots and lots of loose powder. At about 2pm, we had made it up into the switchbacks under Mount Rose and were continuing to slowly snowshoe up those. My partner and I had a brief conversation since our turnaround time was 2:30 pm, and elected to ditch the snowshoes and go straight up the rocky section to the summit instead of following the continued lengthy switchbacks.

No snowshoes was much faster, and we reached the summit at about 2:40, slightly past the turnaround time. Summit conditions were insane. Gale force winds (all I could hear was the wind going "Wooooooooo" around me), cloudy, very cold (I thought half my face was going to be permanently frostbitten), and just to top it off, the snowless trend decided to snap, so we had a light snowstorm as well. We took the obligatory picture, thought about trying to dig out the summit register with our ice axes, and departed at 2:41.

The trip down didn't improve much for a long time. At one point, we had to debate if we were going to dig snow caves or press on if we ended up in white out conditions. Thankfully, we didn't have to implement that plan. The climb back up to the jeep trail from the Galena meadow seemed to last forever, but eventually we were back on the snowmobile pack. We returned to the car at just before 7pm; we'd had to switch on headlamps for only the last 1/4 mile.

As we drove home across Donner Pass, heavy fog and snow slowed us to a crawl; the snow season had returned to Tahoe, and we were glad to have Mount Rose behind us!

Trip statistics: Round-trip distance 9.77 miles; 10 hours duration (includes an hour for lunch); net elevation gain 2,016 feet.