Silver Peak

Located just north of the hustle and bustle of Squaw Valley lies the deceptively large Silver Peak, one of the Truckee area’s most appealing backcountry destinations. Imagine Squaw’s terrain and breadth, with only you to ski it. Silver’s flagship run is its East Bowl, dropping 1,800’ to the drainage below. This aspect should be skied with caution, as frequent wind loading, a convex profile, and complex terrain traps make this a textbook avalanche zone. Silver’s west and north glades, along with its easily navigated ridgelines make it a zone you will want to spend a few days exploring. Avoid skiing down Silver’s main southern drainage back to Squaw, as tightly spaced bushes and trees are known to induce survival skiing. A fun routine that I have enjoyed as a Squaw passholder is to skin up Silver’s west trees in the pre-dawn hours, just above Olympic Village Inn. A few quality laps can be enjoyed here before the lifts begin loading. And as if all this wasn’t enough, the Bradley Hut is located just a few miles north of Silver Peak in the Pole Creek drainage.

Silver Peak can be accessed one of two ways. The standard approach follows snow-covered Forest Service roads 3 miles to the base of Silver from Highway 89. Parking near Olympic Village Inn in Squaw Valley greatly decreases the approach, but is thin during periods of low snowpack. To access Silver Peak from the highway, park in a plowed trailhead on the west side of Highway 89, 6.4 miles south of Donner Pass Road in Truckee, or 2.3 miles north of the Squaw Valley road. A basic regional map and trailhead information mark the start to Forest Road 8. Skin up this snow covered road for 1.75 miles until reaching a fork in the road. FR8 continues right toward the Bradley Hut, and access to Silver Peak is to the left through a gate. Skin another 1.25 miles on this road until reaching the base of Silver Peak. From Squaw, start at Olympic Village Inn and skin past the large green water tower to gain the rocky ridge.

Fred Sproat approaches Silver Peak's formidable east bowl.

Fred Sproat approaches Silver Peak’s formidable east bowl.

The open canvas of Silver Peak's east bowl.

The open canvas of Silver Peak’s east bowl.

Silver Peak's north glades into the Pole Creek drainage.

Silver Peak’s north glades into the Pole Creek drainage.

Looking south from Silver's summit towards Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.

Looking south from Silver’s summit towards Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows.

David Wonser on the prowl for stellar corn skiing on Silver Peak's east bowl.

David Wonser on the prowl for corn in Silver Peak’s east bowl. Photo: Fred Sproat