Castle Peak (and Sierra Club Hut Work Party)
October 13, 2018 - October 14, 2018
4 miles, +1,400’
I had convinced some friends to join in on a Sierra Club hut work party at Peter Grubb Hut in the Tahoe area. Participating in these work parties involves cutting firewood and repairing the huts for the upcoming winter season and confers a priority in reserving the huts for the upcoming winter season, which is the real draw for most participants.
We all met in carpools in San Francisco and made the drive up to Donner Pass, arriving at our arranged lodging at Clair Tappaan Lodge around 9 before fumbling around in the dark until finding our bunkbed dormitories.
In the morning we awoke and had breakfast at the lodge before a long preparatory talk and then a carpool to the upper Castle Pass Trailhead. There, we loaded an impressive amount of food and tools into backpacks and a wheelbarrow and set off up to Castle Pass.
Derek pushing a wheelbarrow full of food up the short climb to Castle Pass. Castle Peak rises behind. You may be surprised to learn that the spikeball kit did not make it out of its bag this weekend.
The mile and a half to the hut took us about 40 minutes after which we had more lessons about how to safely cut and haul logs. Here’s hut coordinator Dick Simpson explaining how to use a crosscut saw.
After some lunch, we wandered off into the forest west of the hut to cut some downed trees which we did for probably four hours. While chainsaw use was permitted, the chainsaw was broken for most of the day, so we cut most of the logs by hand.
After half a day of cutting and hauling logs, we headed back to the hut for some free time. I used the opportunity to climb nearby Castle Peak, a 9,103’ SPS-listed peak just north of I-80. Castle Peak is the easiest of all 247 SPS peaks if climbed from the upper Castle Pass Trailhead. It’s only 1.2 miles with 1,300’ of climbing from that trailhead. From the lower trailhead it’s something like 3 miles.
After a jog/hike up the trail to the summit I was on top. The air was clear, with nice views to the south.
Upon closer inspection, it looks like I didn’t visit the “true” east summit. So I guess I’ll have to return sometime for the class 3 scramble.
Basin Peak to the north. The setting among the lower northern part of the Sierra means there’s not a spectacular view from the summit, but it was still good to get out and enjoy the forest and mountains.
The way down was a bit easier, though a bit loose at the top. Here’s the view of Castle Peak across Round Valley, from near the hut.
And some glamor shots of the Peter Grubb Hut.
We had dinner and played some games before settling down for the night. I opted to sleep outside in my hammock and enjoyed the stars.
The next day we did a bit more work in the morning. We were a bit more efficient at cutting and hauling, but called it a day by late morning and hiked back over Castle Pass to head home. On returning to the cars we found one of them wouldn’t start, so we had to jump it so they could be on their way.
All in all it was an enjoyable weekend with friends, and we looked forward to visiting one of the Tahoe huts in the upcoming winter.