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SkyRun

Star Peak North Face

Elevation gain

4700 ft

Highest point

9836 ft

Lowest point

6700 ft

Aspect

North

Slope

37

Effort

Moderate

Exposure

Mild

Description

Everyday thousands of people drive past the Humboldt Range on I-80 as they hustle across the "barren" vastness of central Nevada. The open nature of the Great Basin landscape can make it difficult to judge scale and distance, and perhaps this is one of the reasons Star Peak (the range high point) receives so little ski touring attention despite being fairly accessible, rising 5,500' above the highway, and receiving skiable snowpack almost every year.

Skiing the north face of Star Peak is an easy way to dip one's toes in the waters of Great Basin skiing. Access from the Buena Vista Valley is straightforward and easygoing, and the expansive north face serves up almost 3,000' of continuous fall line skiing. With every foot of snow on the ground, a handful of possible lines emerge in this zone, but even on lower years, the north face can provide a blissful corn skiing experience thanks to its favorable aspect, elevation, and minimal ground cover. This isn't a low-angle bangle run by any means, so don't turn your avy brain off, but there shouldn't be any particular navigation or technical challenges for the average ski tourer. The upper portion of the face is over a half-mile wide. Take advantage of its massive breadth and lap it up!

Approach

Driving I-80 from either direction take Exit 149 at Mill City, and head south just over 9 miles on NV-400. Take a right hand turn onto a dirt road that heads directly west towards Star Creek Canyon, you will pass the Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary on the south side of the road. Continue 3 miles after turning until you begin to enter the canyon. Depending on the time of year and snow coverage it might be best to park here in the little camp turnout to your left next to the creek. Otherwise continue up the canyon another 2 miles until you reach a broad clearing at 6,000' where a second drainage feeds in from the south. This portion of the road is slightly bumpier but can easily be done in a vehicle such as a Subaru Outback.

The recommended route is to immediately pick your way across Star Creek and follow an old mining road south towards the east flank of Star Peak. Keep heading up until you just about reach the ridge that forms the boundary of the drainage. Right above you there should be an obvious and aesthetic couloir. Skin or boot this line until you reach the upper east bowl and the slope angle lets off a bit. If you don't feel the need, you don't have to go to the true summit, but I would recommend summiting and skiing the east couloir before retracing your steps upwards and heading northwest to the start of the broad north face.

Take pleasure in ripping turns down this behemoth before skiing or hiking down canyon back to the car.

 

Crux

The road on the way out from the base of the north face is overgrown in spots, but that is pretty nitpicky. This is a pretty straightforward tour!

Free Beta

Hot springs abound in this region of Nevada. A good soak after a good tour is hard to beat. Each hot spring has its own set of peculiarities in regards to access and style, but casual internet searching should help you hone in on a few nearby. Also, swing by the Thunder Mountain in Imlay, a fascinating hand-built American Indian museum and monument.

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