A Knack for Tallac / The Rose Parade

15 May 1999 - by Aaron Schuman

We held a beginner spring snow climbing trip to Lake Tahoe. Hakan Yalcin, Tony Stegman, Mike Bowes, Scott Renfro, and Greg Daggett participated, I co-led, and Charles Schafer led.

We car camped in the spacious and nearly empty Fallen Leaf Lake national forest campground. Saturday morning, we drove around the lake to the Stanford conference center, which became our trailhead for Mt Tallac. Soon after we hiked up from the 6700' lake, we met continuous snow cover, at around 7000'. Since the snow was still firm, Charles took the opportunity to introduce walking in crampons. Mid- morning, we found a steep bowl with a safe run-out, and spent an hour practicing ice axe self arrest in all of its variations: face first, on our backs, etc. After lunch, we shed the crampons and made a long grind up a snowy face, then up the summit plateau to the 9735' mountaintop. The view of Emerald Bay and Lake Tahoe, ringed by white peaks, was stunning. We met a snowboarder at the summit, and saw him carve 'S' turns down a steep face. We descended quickly with sitting glissades, plunge steps, and boot skiing.

Sunday, Tony went to do some hiking by the lake shore, and the rest of us paraded up to the opposite end of Lake Tahoe to climb Mount Rose. We parked just below the pass on Nevada highway 431 at around 8800', and hiked into the back country on a snow covered dirt road. Although we were in a wilderness area, where motorized vehicles were prohibited, there were at least a dozen snowmobilers, deafening us and perfuming the mountain air with their exhaust as they roared by. We turned cross country up a canyon on the south side of the mountain, crossed over to the gentler north slope, and walked to the 10776' summit. We had a close up view of Reno, and distant views all the way to Mt Lassen and to the Sweetwater Range. This peak had a snowboarder too. He chatted with us a bit, took group photos of us with our cameras, fortified his courage with a mixture of pot and some white powder, and then leapt on his board and plunged down a 1500' natural half pipe. We made a more stately descent. At the base of the mountain, we strapped on our snowshoes to practice our bowlegged waddle in the rapidly softening snow.

It was the first PCS weekend for Greg, Scott, Mike and Hakan, and it was a successful introduction to Sierra Club climbing. Charles and I welcome the newcomers and wish them many more great climbs.

Diane Ricketson wrote (in August 2000):

You obviously picked the more steep trail, we went up to Lilly lake and Glen Alpine Springs to Gillmore lake and up, 9 hrs round trip (all amateur hikers) But also would never have missed the view. Ours was 6 miles to the top, but took forever it seemed. Lake gilmore was 4.6 and then straight up it seemed to Tallac 1.4.

We noticed the other trail, but we were not sure how steep it was? Again, enjoyed your article, have you done Horsetail falls off of 50? also a beautiful view .

Aaron Schuman replied:

When we went to Tallac in May of '99 the snow went almost all the way down to Fallen Leaf Lake, so there really wasn't anything you'd call a trail. We had selected the route for snowshoe and ice axe training. Steep? Yes, I'd say so!

Glad you had such a good time. Desolation Wilderness is a sublime area, isn't it!

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