Silver- and Poulsen Peak - Snowshoe Hike near the Olympic Valley

Published by 360 Pro , 6 February 2014, 20h59.

Region: World » United States » California
Date of the hike: 5 February 2014
Snowshoe grading: WT4 - High-level snowshoe hike
Geo-Tags: USA   US-CA 
Height gain: 800 m 2624 ft.
Height loss: 800 m 2624 ft.
Access to start point:From Highway 80, take 89 South, after 6.2 miles there is a turnout at Pole Creek road (across the street from Ormsby Real Estate, 8630 River Road, Olympic Valley, CA 96146)

Squaw Valley was the host site of the Winter Olympics in 1960 (click). Today it's one of the largest ski resorts in the USA. If you're willing to pay a whopping 114$ for a day pass you can enjoy about 3600 acres of ski areas. If you're not really into those things like me, there is also the possibility to climb mountains in the area where there's no ski lift which will take you to the top, but you have to walk up there. Silver Peak is one of the popular back country ski touring peaks in the vicinity and I made it my goal for the day. There is also a so-called Poulsen Peak which is close by, found as such only on newer maps. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names committee approved Poulsen Peak on May 12, 2005, it's a tribute to Wayne Poulsen, a great ski champion, winter sports visionary and  the one who brought the Winter Olympics to Squaw Valley (more details can be found here).

Since I was a little doubtful about the amount of snow which (finally) fell in the area - some sources said up to 2 feet - I did not only bring my skis along, but also my snowshoes. I didn't want to scratch my relatively new skis *again. When I arrived at my starting point on Highway 89, it was immediately clear that the 2 feet was a big exaggeration.

So instead of my skis I decide to put on my snowshoes and walk along the snow covered Pole Creek road. After the second switchback I take a shortcut through the forest and get back to the Pole Creek road at 6400 ft and keep following it. Right before the next big turn of the road around 6600 ft I take another shortcut. I get back onto the road (which is not Pole Creek road any more) and follow this path to a plain and clearance at an altitude of approximately 7300 ft, pretty much east of Silver Peak. I decide to walk up the steep (sometimes >35 degree) bowl and get to the summit via the route which skiers usually take for there way down.

It's quite windy on top but the view to Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains are spectacular. Since I have plenty of time, I decide to also visit Poulsen Peak, which is about a mile southeast of Silver Peak. In order to get there I more or less follow the ridge, some rocky parts I bypass on the right (west) side. Poulsen Peak offers a nice view down to the Squaw Valley and the ski resort. After enjoying the sun an my lunch I then walk back up the SE ridge of Silver Peak to an altitude of 7900 ft and traverse in the SE flank of Silver Peak to get down to the clearance at 7300 ft (the normal ascending route up to Silver Peak) and from there walk back to my starting point along the route I came up.

Hike partners: 360

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