A field trip for the Tahoe Mountain Sports Team took us to the hottest new backcountry refuge in the neighborhood, the Frog Lake Huts. Frog Lake is a gorgeous alpine lake near Donner Summit, just outside of Truckee, California.
The property was owned by the Southern Pacific Railroad until purchased by the Smith Family over 100 years ago, who have cared for it ever since. Over the last two years the Truckee Donner Land Trust acquired it for development of the huts and for general preservation. A stone building has been the primary structure along the shore of the lake since shortly after the Smith Family acquired it. The addition of three new bunk houses makes this place ideal for a winter backcountry skiing getaway.
Our group picked our way across the South Castle snowfield heavy with gear and in warming spring conditions despite the early morning. The corn snow begged for packs to be dropped and a quick lap was spun as it softened. After arriving at the hut, we pulled out chairs facing the lake and the craggy face of Frog Lake cliffs. The sublime beauty set in, time slowed down and we knew we were in for a treat.
The main stone building has been updated with an amazing commercial grade kitchen and group spaces. We broke into groups for mealtime and everyone took a turn working the chef’s kitchen. Gourmet meals (or as close as we could come) were served in the great room and the evenings were spent playing cards next to the fireplace. This was backcountry luxury at its finest.
A hutmeister staffs an adjacent hut looking after the facility, turning over the beds as each new group shows up and most importantly making coffee around 6:30 every morning. Each morning we discussed where we might find the best snow, despite the relatively poor conditions. Ultimately, we found some soft hot pow on one aspect and some preserved cold snow on the other side of the lake. I enjoyed getting a new perspective on some of our local topography. Looking across Euer Valley, long views down Carpenter Valley, and some inspiring couloirs reaching down below Warren Lake, to list a few. I kept thinking how amazing this spot would be with some fresh snow. Morning and afternoon touring sessions made for bell-to-bell skiing and smiling faces. Life always slows down and simplifies in spaces such as these.
Check out Truckee Donner Land Trust to learn more about the Frog Lake Huts as well as their other local projects: Truckee Donner Land Trust – Frog Lake Huts. …and consider donating! They are doing some great stuff for our community. For some spring skiing tips, especially on crampons, read this!