For a relatively small mountain, Waterhouse Peak has a lot to offer. The north facing slopes are laced with old-growth mountain hemlock and white fir, and these beautiful stands of trees help keep powder fresh during the cold winter months long after storms have passed.
Don't pass up an opportunity to ride Waterhouse during big winter storms. The gentle slopes of Waterhouse's north aspect are almost absent of avalanche terrain, making it a great option for beginning backcountry skiers and storm skiing powderhounds alike. Add to this the peak's close proximity to South Lake Tahoe, and Waterhouse becomes a good choice for all experience levels.
The popularity of Waterhouse means there are typically multiple snowshoe and skin tracks to help lead you to the summit. Whether you're breaking trail or following tracks, the most direct route is to gain the eastern shoulder by skirting around the east end of Grass Lake at the base of the peak. Toward the summit the glades will open up, and on clear days you'll have magnificent views of Mount Stevens and Red Lake Peak to the south. From the summit, descend through the north facing glades down to Grass Lake.
Parking and access for the peak is found at a series of pullouts adjacent to Grass Lake on Highway 89. Park at the fourth or fifth pullout that is closer to the east end of Grass Lake (the first couple of pullouts provide access to the more advanced terrain of Powderhouse Peak).
Make sure to check Sierra Avalanche Center's daily winter avalanche bulletin to help inform safe backcountry decision making before venturing out.
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.