Backcountry at Lake Tahoe

With reports of good snow cover and half-decent weather over the weekend, Ben Cain (a good mate from b-school) and I decided to do a backcountry trip above Lake Tahoe.  Ben knew the area fairly well so on his advice we drove up towards Fallen Leaf Lake near South Lake Tahoe.  We took his 4WD as far as the road was open, geared up and started hiking in along the lake, which was dotted with some lovely (and expensive) private lodges.  Ben was on skis with skins and I was on snowshoes with my snowboard strapped to my backpack.

Fallen Leaf Lake.

After walking the length of Fallen leaf Lake we ascended slightly and hiked past Lily Lake.  We then turned north and started our ascent of Mount Tallac (9735 feet).  We found it pretty tough going as the snow was really deep and soft, and to top it off the weather started to close in.

"We’re going up there?!?!"

We got ourselves towards the top of the ridge around last light, and with the light failing we had just enough time to shovel out a shelf in the snow and set up camp for the night.  The storm quickly grew into a blizzard and it blew hard for the rest of the night giving the poor tent a good battering.  It was a chilly night too, and getting out of our sleeping bags to stir the food on the camp stove outside in the tent vestibule wasn’t a popular task!

Made it through the night!

By morning, we had a good metre of snow drift up against the tent, but the storm had lightened slightly.  It was still snowing heavily though so we made the decision to descend (rather than climb even higher on the mountain), not just because of the risky weather but also because the avalanche danger was pretty high.

The descent was definitely the fun bit of the weekend, and the snow going down was AMAZING – some of the best powder I’ve ever experienced!


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