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Bear Claw – Herlan Peak 8840′

Bear Claw – Herlan Peak 8840′

Location- Near Incline Village, Above Sand Harbor State Park

Elevation Change – about 2000′

This is a small area of terrain to ski, but the view is absolutely the most incredible thing you will ever experience. If you have ridden your mountain bike on the Flume Trail above Incline Village, NV then you know what I’m talking about. The spot where you have to get off your bike to climb over some rocks in a steep landslide area is your ski descent! The peak is called Herlan, and there is a very cool small pyramid shaped rock at the top that serves as an excellent and sketchy perch for one. The slopes face West and NW, so you’ll need to ski the bear claw chute soon after some big snowfall dumps. You can see the “claw” when you look at this area from across the lake. It’s hard to resist dropping the one center chute below you at the top. It will always be a bit scratchy with rime ice and dirt. Sidestep through that carefully and maybe even belay less experienced friends for 100′. I just went up there and just blocked my wife from missing an edge buy being right next to her while we side stepped down into the chute. Once you are through the scratchy part of the center claw, you are golden. Wander around in the nice soft snow below that, looking for the right aspect for the day.

I have never skied the terrain further south on the ridge, which looks similar from the road below. I have skied the more north facing trees and found a few small open patches to make turns in. The trees are a bit tight otherwise. I have skied some low angle terrain facing due north, which has smaller and more spaced-out trees. Take beginners down that run and wrap back around to the skin track or come back up to drop the bear claw and blow their minds. just adjacent and to the north as well. Although the main Bear Claw Chute generally faces West, there is a northern tilt to skiers left that may still be powder a day or two after it snows. In very warm weather, forget about going here.

I used to skin straight up the thing, which isn’t that bad actually. Sometimes you need ski crampons near the top. It’s the fastest way to get up there. A few years ago, I caught on that the East shore locals’ skin up through the northwest facing trees. I have included a Gaia map screenshot of my actual route up the skin track. I drew arrows showing the approximate location of the ski descent directions I am speaking of from personal experience. 

Remember, this terrain loses it’s snow quick. It gets warm quick. It doesn’t get that much snow. If you get there and it sucks, just drive a few miles up to Mt. Rose or Rose Knob Jr. on hwy 431.

You WILL get a parking ticket if you park anywhere on the highway. Sand Harbor is usually open. Drive in there and pay $15 into a drobox to park. Skin or walk across the highway and find the skin track. Don’t park at the overlook on hwy 28. Don’t park in front of the Sand Harbor parking lot gates. You must drive into the Sand Harbor State Park and drop $15 in cash per car.

If you ski the Bear Claw, please reply to this guidebook post with a picture or two!




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4 years ago


Last edited 8 months ago by Mike

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