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Round Top from NE - Elephants Back

Published by 360 Pro , 1 June 2017, 20h48.

Region: World » United States » California
Date of the hike:26 May 2017
Hiking grading: T3 - Difficult Mountain hike
Ski grading: PD-
Geo-Tags: USA   US-CA   Mokelumne Wilderness 
Height gain: 650 m 2132 ft.
Height loss: 650 m 2132 ft.
Access to start point:Highway 88 to Carson Pass
SNO-PARK Pass Parking Permit required (5$ per day or 25$ for a season pass)
Check this link for details and how to purchase the permit online

I had plenty of real life views and took many many pictures of Round Top in the last few weeks. Due to the massive amounts of snow this area got during this winter, I thought of an approach to the top from northeast. I did not find any reports in the www about such a line, but judging from my inspection last week from the top and the pictures I took, I was convinced this line would be feasible. The steepness should be somewhat less than the *Crescent Moon Couloir and the last meters to the very top, I practiced already last week down from and back up to the high-point. What I didn't consider is that a rather exposed steep ridge is much trickier than climbing a couloir of similar steepness...

I start about half an hour earlier than last week and the flat part of the tour to Winnemucca Lake is pretty much the same as *during my last visit. From the lake I then go up in southeastern direction and in a wide & long right turn get to the beginning of the northeast ridge. From here the ridge is all snow and at about the half way point snow-free rock. I leave my skis here and take out my ice axe to continue. The snow is rather soft and I don't really need my crampons at this point. I work my way up the ridge and soon its gets steep and steeper, uncomfortably steep. Shortly before reaching the rocky part it is more than 45˚. Even though less steep than the Crescent Moon Couloir, it is too steep for me, because it doesn't only go down behind me but to the left and right as well. Eventually I have to admit that I'm not brave enough to go any further but better turn around before my knees get any wobblier.

With my ice axe I build myself a nice seat and take a rather long break. I then get back to my skis and ski down to Winnemucca Lake in perfect corn snow. Since I hate to go back home without successfully summiting a peak, I decide to pay a short visit to the nearby Elephants Back, despite the snow situation there. For the last 200 altimeters during my ascent in the west flank, I have to take my skis off and walk. The same is true for my way down on the north side. 

Hike partners: 360

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