Mt. Tallac East Face

25 May 1998 - by George Sinclair

Over the Memorial Day weekend I took a group up the east face of Mt. Tallac near Lake Tahoe. I had little information about this climb prior to doing it, but since it is such a prominent landmark from the South Lake Tahoe area it was something I had long wanted to do. The most distinctive feature of the east face is the "cross", which was what we used to reach the summit. This very enjoyable climb can be done in a day from the road. The following description is given for those who wish to do it:

From Hwy 89, about 2 miles north of Camp Richardson, go west on Spring Creek Road. Follow it to near where it ends. Begin hiking in a south-southwest direction through trees and brush, climbing gradually up to a ridge that descends down the northeast side of Mt. Tallac. From this ridge one should be able to look into a large bowl that sits below the east face of the mountain. Where practical traverse into this bowl and continue climbing up in a southwest direction until reaching the base of the cross. Over the Memorial Day weekend everything, except for the part at the very beginning, was covered in snow. As you climb up the cross the going gets increasingly steep. An ice axe is essential here. After passing the horizontal section of the cross the snow becomes very steep. Crampons and rope may be needed here depending on snow conditions. About half way up the upper section of the cross, begin angling up to the right and look for a spot without a cornice to pass through to the summit. During our climb there were large cornices directly above the cross.

On the descent one may go down the north face of the mountain about 300 feet to the top of a gully that will take one directly down to the right side of the horizontal section of the cross. This descent may be easier than descending the climbing route.

If the cross contains little snow than the climb could be quite different. I've only climbed it when there was snow. It could be harder without the snow.

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