Epic 15,600′ Vertical Backcountry Ski Trip on Silver Peak

At The Trailhead

By Lucas Paschuta
Cubby Film Productions – Lucas donates to Protect Our Winters for every like and comment he receives on his videos.

Located off highway 89 roughly two miles North of Squaw Valley Ski Resort is Pole Creek Road, the access point to Silver Peak and the popular Bradley Hut. The Pole Creek Road parking area is usually very well maintained.  Even during strong storms you will find it plowed and clear. The hike starts at the gate on Pole Creek Road at an elevation 6050ft. The total distance from the road to my campsite was 6.23 miles consisting of 1900 feet of elevation gain and 350 of elevation loss. Walking a road the entire way to the hut makes it for an easy, safe, and straightforward approach. I consider this tour to be moderate do to its length, but can be done car-to-car no problem.

I started my hike at 9:00 a.m. on an icy crunchy trail, however it wasn’t long till the sun started to soften up the snow.  I arrived at camp around 11:40am.  This would be home for the next two nights. I dug out a nice flat area in the snow near some trees for shade. The forecast was for plenty of sun, I could easily dry out things that were wet.  Luckily, I setup camp near a nice fallen dead tree that could be hacked up to make a fire.

They very were friendly and invited me back to the hut for some drinks, food, games by the fireplace.

I set up my campsite in about an hour and headed up to make my first run. I gained the peak near Billy’s Peak around 1:20pm to find I was not alone out there. A group of people were staying at the Bradley hut and were taking laps in the same area. On my 3rd lap I finally caught up with them on the ridge. We talked on the ridge for a while about skiing in the Tahoe area. They very friendly and invited me back to the hut for some drinks, food, games by the fireplace.

That evening after making my dinner, freeze dried food by Mountain House, I went to the hut to say hello. After hanging for a while I suggested one last sunset tour. It did not take much convincing.  The group said “Hell yeah, we are in.” We strapped on our skies and headed to the peak. We timed it perfectly and arrived at the peak 20 minutes before sunset. The colors were a beautiful yellow near the sun fading out over your head to deep dark purple. After catching some really nice dusk turns, we went back to the hut for some drinks.  After a couple glasses of wine and few games I called it a day and skinned back to my tent to get a good night sleep.

Each run would be around 1000 vertical feet, some a little less, some a little more.

On day 2, I woke up to a cold dark starry night sky. I got on my gear and I headed up for the sunrise. It was chilly on the ridge but it was well worth it. I skied back to my tent curled up for an extra hour of sleep. Waking up again to beautiful blue bird morning, I boiled up some water for tea and breakfast. So, I began my goal of 10,000 feet in a single day. Each run would be around 1000 vertical feet, some a little less, some a little more. I knew I needed at least 10 runs to achieve my goal.

I started on east facing slopes in the morning and made my way across the ridge to those facing slightly more north. During my day, I went back to my tent twice for a quick bite to eat and a catnap in the middle of the day.  During the first two laps my goal seemed far away and unreachable, but as the day went on the skiing just got better and better. The skiing was so good, I needed to pace myself. I found hard to not hustle back up to the top get another peak and another lap. The day getting late and I was getting tired. The final lap, lap 10, it was the last lap I had in me.

I didn’t hit 10,000 in one day, however I would call my mission a success.

I thought I had reached my goal but after looking at the topo maps and calculating my runs, I came just short at 9800 vertical feet. I didn’t hit 10,000 in one day, however I would call my mission a success. That night my new found friends at the hut invited me back for more drinks. I promised I would stop by. By the time I ate my dinner and mistakenly laid down and closed my eyes, I knew it I was out for the night.

On day 3, I woke up to sun, colder temps, and plenty of wind. I cooked breakfast, packed up my bag, broke down my tent, and started my ski out around 8:30 a.m.. I arrived at my truck around 9:15 a.m. and headed back to my cabin in Soda Springs, CA to unpack and get ready for the next adventure.

Trip Recap:

Lesson Learned:

  • I learned I must go to the ridgeline SSW of where I was skiing, which includes Granite Chief Peak. If there is one thing you can count on in the Sierra Nevada’s is that every time you summit a new run be prepared to add 5 more to your list.

It is a dragon that won’t be caught but will always be chased.

Book Recommendation:

Small and easy to carry, it is full great inspirational events. Easy to read any few pages and remind yourself where your life should head.

Favorite Gear Used:

  • On this trip my favorite piece of gear was also a new piece of gear, the REI Magna 10 Sleeping Bag. A nice compact 850 fill dri-down 10-degree bag that kept me more than comfortable through the nights.

Just over a pound in weight and packs as small as a football.

Gear They Wished They Brought:

  • One piece of gear I wish I had was waterproof booties for my ski boot liners. I ordered Arunners from Amazon before the trip, unfortunately, they arrived in the mail while I was on this trip. I suggest if you wear 9-10 shoe, or 27.5 ski boot buy at least XXXL to make sure the zipper will zip over the ski boot liner.

It a necessity, for me at least, to have footwear that is packable, warm, and dry.

Favorite Meal or Snack:

  • My Favorite meal was my lunch on the second day. I had smoked medium cheddar cheese, Whiskey Aged salami, and some garlic herb crackers.

Always good to bring dried meats and hard cheeses so you are not living off cliff bars!

Maps, Routes and GPS Information

Caltopo Map: https://caltopo.com/m/NP11

GPS Route: GPX or KML to basecamp

Remember to like, comment and subscribe to Cubby Film Productions – Lucas will be donating to Protect Our Winters (@ProtectWinters or https://protectourwinters.org) for every like and comment he receives on his videos.


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