Mount Tallac

6 Apr 1997 - by Arun Mahajan

On 6th April 97, the three of us, Scott Kreider, Marilyn Hurley and I, Arun Mahajan attempted Mt Tallac (9735 ft) in the Desolation Wilderness in the South Lake Tahoe region.

As per the USFS (Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit), you need a permit even for day use, so we went to their office at 870 Emerald Bay Rd and wrote ourselves one. The small turn off for the Tallac trailhead on 89 is easy to spot but the access road is a little broken up and bumpy, but we could still get to the trailhead in my car. Ours was the only one there. It turned out that there was a box at the trailhead with blank permit forms too.

The snow started right away. We stuck mostly to what would have been the Mt Tallac trail, had it not been obscured by the snow. The snow was well consolidated, and we were not postholing, and we did not need to use snowshoes which remained a dead-weight throughout the trip. The trail sticks to the top of a ridge that runs north to south with great views of Fallen Leaf Lake. As we broke through the forest, we saw another group heading up the steep eastern bowl. Even though that route offers almost direct access to the summit, we passed. We went over the mildly steep ridge of Tallac that runs from north to the south-east and then headed up the backside. The snow was hard and icy in places but we did not need crampons or axe, ski poles were enough.

After a little over four hours from the trailhead, we were at the summit. Some clouds were building up, but we had great views of Dick's Peak, Pyramid Peak and the almost perfectly circular Lake Gilmour. We could make out Roundtop and what we thought was Freel Peak.

If the summit had register, then we did not see it.

The journey back was a little quicker (less than 3 hours) due to a couple of exciting glissades and we also used the long run-outs to practice some ice-axe techniques. On a colder day, an axe and crampons would have been really needed, but that day the sun was warm and the snow soft enough to obviate that.

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