The northernmost peak of Tahoe’s renowned West Shore lineup, Rubicon Peak is home to an attractive swath of old-growth forest that holds some of the area's best glade skiing. Scenic tree skiing doesn’t get much better than the 1,500-foot shot below Rubicon’s summit, where well-spaced glades allow skiers to open up and link continuous turns above Lake Tahoe. Just don’t forget to slow down from time to time to enjoy the views that Rubicon delivers. Rubicon also offers a relatively safe option for storm skiing among glades and slightly less angled slopes, especially compared to neighboring Hidden and Jake’s Peaks to the south.
The most direct ascent of Rubicon is by way of a residential neighborhood, and parking is at the top of Highview Drive (see directions). This affords skiers a 600 foot “lift” when compared to starting at Highway 89. Parking on Highview Drive comes with some degree of ticketing risk, however; although there is no signage, tickets have been issued for the sake of snow removal issues. Ticketing is hard to predict here, and skiers continue to park here regularly.
From the end of Highview Drive, continue past the gate and start skinning up to the water tower on the left. Follow the very gradual ridge for 0.75 miles in the direction of the summit, which is frequently visible from this low grade. At around 7,600 feet, Rubicon’s slopes begin to steepen. Continue up the obvious fall line to the summit.
A nice descent option can be easily reached by contouring directly below the summit block to the true-east facing aspect. This segment is ideal for lapping, just make sure to track your whereabouts and traverse back to the approach ridge above 7,600 feet to ensure you don’t miss Highview Drive if you have parked there. Alternatively, for a longer climb and descent, park off of Highway 89 south of Scenic Drive and skin up to the south of the residential area.
Make sure to check Sierra Avalanche Center's daily winter avalanche bulletin to help inform safe backcountry decision making before you venture out: www.sierraavalanchecenter.org
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.