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Mount Tallac

One of the highest peaks around the rim of Lake Tahoe, Mt. Tallac is an aesthetic and challenging backcountry ski descent

Mount Tallac

Mt. Tallac climbs to an elevation of 9,375 feet on the southwest shore of Tahoe, and provides a terrific backcountry skiing experience. It is considered a prized ski outing and a classic Lake Tahoe backcountry ski destination. With a climb of over 3,000 feet in under 3 miles, it's a challenging tour where you will appreciate a lightweight setup with a pair of Dynafit Vertical ST touring bindings. It offers the most sustained vertical in the Tahoe Basin and a variety of aspects and terrain to ski, it truly is the heart and soul of the Tahoe Backcountry.

With the classic winter approach and parking on Spring Creek Road gated for another winter, the best approach is to park on Rt. 89 on one of the parking areas close to Spring Creek Road and then skin along the road. There is usually a skin track and or bootpack from the end of the road through the woods to the base of the climb.

The beginning takes you through a bit of forest before opening up for clear views of Tallac and the Lake. The skin track commonly follows either the gully directly above Spring Creek Rd or the ridge to climbers left of it. Be sure to pick up a Tahoe topo map if you're unfamiliar with the area.

Skinning up Mount Tallac

This is where you put your head down, get your heart rate up and sweat your way up the mountain. As you approach 9,000 feet, you will be viewing the large north bowl that is the trademark feature at the top of Tallac. Stay high along the rocks and climb to the saddle at the top of the bowl.Sometimes there is a snow route all the way to the summit, other times you have to scramble over rocks. From the summit, there is a great view of Desolation Wilderness to the southwest and Lake Tahoe to the east.

The eastward portion below the bowl is not recommended for most people due to deadly cliffs and avalanche danger. The main bowl is an attractive route, but can at times be dangerously icy in mornings or windpacked. Other sections of the mountain can offer terrific powder and/or corn, depending on the season. Exploring north-facing runs is also often rewarding on warmer days, depending on conditions. The main couloir on the Southeast Cirque is the Cross, the obvious and aesthetic line visible from South Lake Tahoe. It is essentially right in front of you if you're standing on the summit looking east at the lake, but it is a challenging line that should be reserved for when conditions are ideal. It can be one of the best descents in the Tahoe backcountry when conditions are right, or a deadly avalanche path when they aren't. So be careful!


Skiing the Cross on Mount Tallac

Mount Tallac has so much terrain that an entire guidebook could be written on this one mountain, as long as the snowpack is stable and you are careful of any blind rollovers, a little exploration could lead to one of the best runs of your life!


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