Monday, September 1st, 2014

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Tahoe Backcountry Ski Conditions Update – Mt. Tallac

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It’s corn harvesting season in the Tahoe backcountry. The snow is getting thin down low, but up high there’s still plenty of the good stuff, and if you hit it right it’s as good as it gets.

Spring Creek Road is dry, but the snow starts soon enough.

Spring Creek Road is dry, but the snow starts soon enough.

Jon and I hit Mt. Tallac on Friday, maybe the most well-known of all Tahoe-area ski descents, and deservedly so. We got to the trailhead around 8:30 am or so and started skinning up the northeast gully. After a a couple hours and a couple thousand feet, we go to the north shoulder, then skinned up the Northeast Bowl, snuck through the saddle, then circled around to the West side of the summit and scrambled up the last bit of talus to the top.

Mt. Tallac's Northeast Bowl in the spring sun.

Mt. Tallac's Northeast Bowl in the spring sun.

It was scorching hot down in the gully, but once we got up higher, the breeze picked up and kept us cool enough. We lingered for a bit on the summit, enjoying the views and the sun.

Well worn skin track up Tallac's Northeast bowl.

Well worn skin track up Tallac's Northeast bowl.

There were two other groups up there. The first had scaled Tallac from the west side that morning, after camping at Echo Lakes for the last couple days skiing the area peaks like Dick’s Peak and Pyramid Peak. Gonna have to pull that trip together myself some time. And there was another group of about six guys headed for the famous Cross Couloir on the south side of Tallac. Later they reported that it was a wet slog, being south-facing.

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Jon and I on the summit of Tallac.

Jon and I decided to head down the Northeast Bowl. You can still ski directly off the summit, and on this day, anyway, the first 1500 feet were fantastic. Perfect corn conditions. The bottom couple thousand feet were wet, however.

Our turns in great corn conditions on Tallac's Northeast Bowl.
Our turns in great corn conditions on Tallac’s Northeast Bowl.

We saw a TON of natural wet slide activity. Nothing major – no deep wet slabs – but lots of significant sluffing and point-releases. Be careful out there. There’s still a very deep snowpack that could do some damage in the right conditions.

Wet avalanche activity on Tallac's eastern flanks.
Wet avalanche activity on Tallac’s eastern flanks.

We skied out to the road, where a fellow skier gave us a lift back to the trailhead. Then we had a frosty PBR and called it a good day.