Analysing terrain data
The exposure grade does not take into account objective hazards (stone fall, seracs…) but only the consequences of the skier falling.
Low Exposure (E1): Exposure is limited to that of the slope itself. Getting hurt is still likely if the slope is steep and/or the snow is hard.
Medium Exposure (E2): As well as the slope itself, there are some obstacles (such as rock outcrops) which could aggravate injury.
High Exposure (E3): In case of a fall, death is highly likely.
Extreme Exposure (E4): In case of a fall, the skier faces certain death.
Take Highway 50 south from South Lake Tahoe, through Meyers and head up towards Echo Summit.
The last street you can turn on before heading up to Echo Summit is Chiapa Drive, which you will take a right on.
Drive to the very end of Chiapa and park at the dead end.
Please know that you will be cited if parked on the road while snow removal conditions exist.
Also, please respect the neighbors and keep traffic and noise levels to a minimum.
Starting off you will need full avalanche rescue equipment, a partner and enough water and nourishment for a half day.
From here you can skin up the ridge line in front of you.
Ski down that first small ridge and you will see an opening, which is the Gun tower trail.
Follow this corridor south.
You will be able to see Flagpole for most of your approach - it is the steep open face with a triangle shaped summit, just looker's right of Echo Summit.
The trail wraps around Ozgoode Swamp and back underneath Flagpole Peak.
This is a little less than a mile for the approach.
Once at the bottom of Flagpole you will set out to the looker's right, away from the open face, heading into the trees.
Stay to the right of the open face in these trees as you set switchbacks up.
A little more than halfway up is a steep rock face that will have snow on it on during an average season.
Stay right of this area, while veering ever right up to a saddle.
Once to the saddle (with enough snow) you can simply skin up to the peak.
If there is not enough snow you can take your skis off and boot pack up to the rocks just looker’s right behind a group of trees.
Both ways will get you to the top.
You will know where the top is because there is an actual flagpole up there (hence the name).
For the descent, the best option is skiing back skier’s left towards the saddle, then fall line back to the bottom (approximately 1,800 vertical feet).
The open face skier's right is a large avalanche path that frequently triggers naturally and skiing it is not recommended.
Skier's left is the safest route concerning avalanche terrain, and has solid anchors everywhere.
The trees to the right (more fall line) are amazingly spaced (30-35 degrees with some turns at 40).
The skier’s left is more open but equally as fun and steep.
Towards the bottom you can cut back right out into the more open area but be aware there is a small shelf that can have larger airs to flat when not fully filled in.
If you pop out fall-line or skier’s left you will be in a thicket and will have to bushwhack.
From here you can follow your skin track back to Chiapa Drive or if you are up for it, head back up for another lap.