Mt. Rose – Lake Tahoe
“It’s the heart, afraid of breaking that never learns to dance. It’s the dream, afraid of waking that never takes the chance. It’s the one who won’t be taken who cannot seem to give. And the soul, afraid of dying that never learns to live.” – Bette Midler, The Rose
Why This Mountain?
The first time Tami came to Lake Tahoe, she knew it was going to become a special place for her – there was an instant connection. TJ and Tami both trained in the Sierra Nevadas for their 52 Peaks snow mountaineering courses. TJ has hiked many miles in the Sierras. This is John Muir country and one of the most beautiful places on earth. The reasons for 52 Peaks to be in Lake Tahoe are endless. We chose Mt. Rose as one of our peaks mainly because our friend Rose is joining us on this hike and it seemed the obvious choice. It’s also one of the peaks in Tahoe we have been wanting to do for a while now.
Mountain & Route Facts
Mt. Rose at an elevation of 10,776′ is the second highest mountain in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Mount Rose is the result of volcanic activity that began 30 million years ago. It marks the transition zone between the Sierra Nevada and the Great Basin. In fact, recent hydrothermal activity in the area has been measured, and power is generated from underground geothermal reservoirs only 10 miles east of the mountain. The summit of Mount Rose is above tree line, but only by a couple hundred feet. Views from the summit are expansive. There are great views to the Sierras stretching as far as Northern Yosemite on a clear day. Views to the north include Lassen Peak on a clear day. It is a popular spot for skiing in the winter.
There are several different routes to the summit of Mt. Rose. There are the less technical routes of New Mount Rose Trail or Old Mount Rose Trail which are 10-12 miles each. There is also the Southeast Ridge which is shorter, but steeper (5.4 miles, 3,350′ of gain) or Jones-Creek/Whites Creek Loop (10 miles, 4,700′ of gain). We took the New Mount Rose trail. The round trip was 10.4 miles with 2,392′ of elevation gain. The first 2.5 miles are fairly flat with only about 400′ of gain. Once you reach the water fall, the trail gradually becomes a bit steeper. The last mile and a half to the summit has about 1,500′ of elevation gain. The views from the top of Lake Tahoe are stunning and well worth the hike. The trail terrain is good and the path well marked.
Historical and Cultural Information
Lake Tahoe (/ˈtɑːhoʊ/) is a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada of the United States. At a surface elevation of 6,225 ft, it straddles the border between California and Nevada, west of Carson City. Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America. Its depth is 1,645 ft, making it the second deepest in the United States after Crater Lake (1,945 ft). Additionally, Lake Tahoe is the sixth largest lake by volume in the United States at 122,160,280 acre·ft, behind the five Great Lakes.
The lake was formed about 2 million years ago and is a part of the Lake Tahoe Basin with the modern lake being shaped during the ice ages. It is known for the clarity of its water and the panorama of surrounding mountains on all sides. The area surrounding the lake is also referred to as Lake Tahoe, or simply Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is a major tourist attraction in both Nevada and California. It is home to a number of ski resorts, summer outdoor recreation, and tourist attractions. The Nevada side also includes large casinos.
The area around Lake Tahoe was previously inhabited by the Washoe tribe of Native Americans. The English name for Lake Tahoe derives from the Washo word “dá’aw,” meaning “The Lake”. Lt. John C. Frémont was the first person of European descent to see Lake Tahoe, during Fremont’s second exploratory expedition on February 14, 1844.
Upon discovery of gold in the South Fork of the American River in 1848, thousands of gold seekers going west passed near the basin on their way to the gold fields. European civilization first made its mark in the Lake Tahoe basin with the 1858 discovery of the Comstock Lode, a silver deposit just 15 miles to the east in Virginia City, Nevada. From 1858 until about 1890, logging in the basin supplied large timbers to shore up the underground workings of the Comstock mines. The logging was so extensive that loggers cut down almost all of the native forest.
After a dispute that included gunshots exchanged between militia, in 1864, California and Nevada defined a partition that followed geographical coordinates: the state line runs east of the approximate center line of the lake; at 39 degrees north latitude, the state border runs southeasterly towards the Colorado River. Unbeknownst to the negotiators, this compromise split Lake Tahoe: two-thirds for California, one-third for Nevada.
Lake Tahoe is also the location of several 19th and 20th century palatial homes of historical significance. The Thunderbird Lodge built by George Whittel Jr once included nearly 27 miles (43 km) of the Nevada shoreline. Vikingsholm was the original settlement on Emerald Bay and included an island teahouse and a 38-room home. The Ehrman Mansion is a summer home built by a former Wells Fargo president in Sugar Pine Point and is now a state park.