Dicks Peak (#10) and Mount Tallac (#11)
Day 8, Dicks Peak and Mount Tallac
Ever since I started planning routes for the SPS list, the Dick’s Peak to Mount Tallac ski tour stuck out to me as one that was sure to be a classic. With the recent storm and soft snow, I knew that it would be a day to remember.
I set out from the trailhead above Emerald Bay just before sunrise, buzzing with excitement and anticipation. The sun rose above Lake Tahoe as I climbed up and over Maggie’s Peak, coasting down its west ridge deep into the heart of the Desolation Wilderness. Big, open faces stretched in every direction -- perfect ski terrain.
There is an incredible amount of potential packed into this fairly small group of mountains. Many nearby lines beckoned to me, but I had my sights set on a big prize -- the north face of Dick’s Peak. Thanks to an established skin track, I was able to make quick work of the climb up Dick’s, and soon found myself taking in the wondrous summit panorama of open, alpine basins gleaming with a fresh blanket of snow.
I didn’t stay long, as I was eager to enjoy the powdery goods below.
I skied right off the summit, scratched a few steep, icy turns onto the face, then started to open up wide, smooth turns. The bliss was short lived, as I suddenly started thwacking into rocks lurking below the soft surface -- “sharks”, an apt name. I gingerly traversed to an area of the face that seemed to have better coverage, then continued down, this time with slightly more trepidation. As I dropped lower on the face, I started to let my skis run again, and enjoyed great turns all the way down to the lake below.
With a grin plastered on my face, I looked at the plethora of ski lines above me, and immediately decided that Mount Tallac, my second peak of the day, could wait. I took a bonus lap, finding perfectly smooth snow that enabled me to ski as fast as I wanted. Unable to resist, I hiked back up and took another lap back down to the lake, straightlining through a tight chute, then nesting my turns perfectly with my tracks from the previous run.
Great fun indeed. With the snow warming in the mid-day sun, I finally decided that I should get back to work. I headed back up to the ridge, then followed it as it meandered towards Tallac. It was constantly rolling up and then down, and there were lots of exposed rocks, which made travel quite tedious, as I switched from skiing to skinning to booting over and over. One section was particularly gross, with soft, facety snow on top of loose boulders while I was on foot. Not fun. Eventually, I made it to easier skinning and climbed towards the rocky summit of Tallac. This summit certainly has the best vantage point of Lake Tahoe. The immense, pristine lake seems to fill your entire view.
I had left my skis a short distance below the summit, as I was starting to feel fatigued and the skiing off the summit looked steep, rocky, and tricky. However, once I returned to my skis, I realized I’d left my Garmin GPS behind! I took it as a hint from the mountain- it was an opportunity to go back and take the proud line. I threw my skis on my pack and hiked back up, retrieved the Garmin, then confidently dropped in. It’s always a good day when you can make turns right off one summit, let alone 2! I enjoyed another long run with lots of deep, albeit a little heavy, powder 3,000 feet down to the lake. A truly classic day with 2 SPS peaks and 7,000+ feet of excellent powder skiing!!
View the activity here.