The Other Mt Tallac Trail

21 Oct 1997 - by Rich Calliger

Tahoe Rim Trail, Mt Tallac, and Twin Peaks- Class 1-2 peak-bagging trip Oct 14 - Oct 21, 1997

I mainly climbed the small peaks on the Tahoe Rim Trail solo for 5 days. Completely uneventful with some of the most gloriously clear weather, but cold- nights - were low to mid 20's at 8000'. Sketchy snow line starting at 7300 and up to 5-6" at 9700. Every day had a great view of the lakes and small peaks in the area.

After the Lake Tahoe Rim Trail I moved camp to the Desolation Wilderness area as well as about 100 easy miles on my bike to recondition my knee.

The scattered groves of aspen in various states of change from light orange to deeper yellows and deep burnt orange, depending on the altitude and nearby water supply, proved to be an extremely spectacular fall and a breathtaking photo-op and wonderful trip.

Tallac, Class 1 SW, Class 3-4 from the North (9,735'), I discovered has two trails heads both marked as "Tallac". The first being at the end of Fallen Leaf Lake Road (SE of S. Lake Tahoe 4 miles) at the trail head for several small peaks as well as Lily, Aloha, Gilmore and other small lakes in the area. The views were quite beautiful with the 6" light dusting of snow on the Sierras to the south as well as the summit rocks.

This approach is about 2 miles of the most awkward man-made 4 to 6" diameter rock road that you ever walked on. If you just want to climb Tallac, the "normal" TH is the best (and shortest) although not as nice as the scenery is form the south going north.

The other TH for Tallac starts at the "normal" approach off of Emerald Bay road with the use trail clearly marked on the highway (89 North) as the Tallac Trailhead. This approach goes past Floating Island Lake, a small 10-acre-ish lake which was home to several groups of local sun-bathers at the time I walked past the modest grassy beach areas.

Twin Peaks proved to be the most interesting when on the way to a "high camp" in my 4WD I ended up sliding backwards, across, and down a 50 degree crevasse for about 6 feet. It was more of a nuisance and no real danger; however, the extracation took about 7 hrs before the vehicle was freed from the scree and sand I had slid into. Later, I found that the 4WD lock had slipped to the "off" position!!- the lessons we learn!

Several other 4WD'S people tried pulling me out to no avail. After ripping apart a quad-folded 11mm climbing rope rigged (have you ever seen a climbing rope ripped?- it is quiet a sight to see it torn apart- one you do not want to see really!!) as a Z-line we still could not get it out. Finally 2 AAA trucks arrived beckoned by my cell phone calls for help.. We destroyed a 10-foot 4-ton anchor before finally setting webbing straps on the only available 2 car-sized boulders with a one-legged z-anchor using 8 'biners as pulleys for the Z. (Of course all this gear will have to be now retired due to the overweights applied).

We nervously worked and watched all day as the clouds starting building up (they cleared). Finally after 7 hrs of trench digging and knot tieing and cable pulling I was out. Walking up to the summit, that night's bivy was an exhausting but thankful sleep on the large-ish flat summit of Twin Peaks with glittering clear nighttime skies shinning down as a reward for a hard-days "work".

The return down the summit and back to the bay area was uneventful; regrettable though, however, as the fall weather continues to hold outrageously beautiful with only scattered light and short storms in the mid to northern Sierra.


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