Route: Crystal Range: Pyramid Peak & Mt Price Loop (CA)

Submitted by on Mon, 10/05/2020 - 07:05pm
California, US
20 mi
Vertical Gain
4,800 ft

Lake Tahoe is a place of spectacular natural beauty, but certainly one of the gems in her crown is Desolation Wilderness.

Hitting all 7 peaks in this wilderness is an already established and very competitive FKT, but the crest of this crown is the Crystal Range traverse, the most technically demanding and purest of all the ridgeline traverses in the area.  Combining this single ridgeline with a long run from Echo Lakes is a natural choice, a highlight of a larger objective, such as how the Tuolumne Tenaya-Matthes-Cathedral linkup is a part of the larger Yosemite Picnic. The views all along this route are simply phenomenal; from the last summit, Mt. Price, the entire ridge and the entire running route is laid out before you, as is the stunning Lake Aloha basin, in turn one of the primary highlights of Desolation.  Running out along the TRT/PCT gives you a long look at the scenic ridgeline you have just traversed

As for the route, cutting off trail near the Southern toe of Lake Aloha begins the adventure proper, as a maze of small lakes must be navigated to the outlet of American Lake, where a log bridge makes an easy cross.  A quick and fun scramble takes one to Pyramid Lake, with phenomenal views of Pyramid Peak and the super enjoyable and classic scramble from the lake to the summit; almost exactly 2,000 feet of gain in about 1 mile.

The traverse itself can be harder or easier based on routefinding, but I would describe it as occasional 3rd class moves to make the ridge, then it is just super classic 2nd class on granite blocks.  One can adhere to the summit of the ridge or cut across the basins; it is your adventure!

The descent from Price to Mosquito Pass has been described as 4th class, but the key to this ridgeline is always routefinding; airy 3rd class is definitely possible with a few key choices.  Once back to the trail, a solid 8 miles of at times rocky trail leads you back to the Echo Lakes dock, leaving your footprints behind and taking only memories.

This route could also have a winter version, as the access road is plowed to the Echo Lake Sno-Park.  This only adds on a couple miles, but the route will be shorter with snow banks to cut across!


*I can email a few photos from the route; i can't seem to upload them here.

The mileage and vertical gain are from my Garmin watch; seems more accurate than the GPS track


GPS Track