Mount Tallac, Dicks Peak, and Jacks Peak
October 17, 2020
16.2 miles, +5,700’
I had this lovely mid-autumn day free to go for an adventure somewhere and fortunately the 2020 spate of natural disasters had let up just enough that a getaway to climb some peaks in the Tahoe area was a reasonable objective. I settled on a ridgeline traverse connecting Mount Tallac, Dicks Peak, and Jacks Peak, plus a few other unnamed peaks. All three of these peak are on the Tahoe Ogul list, and Mount Tallac and Dicks Peak are on the SPS list as well. I figured that if time permitted at the end of the day I could venture up Cracked Crag, Keiths Dome, and some other summits to the south.
So I got up early and enjoyed a quiet drive to the Glen Alpine Trailhead. I arrived at 8AM to freezing temperatures and set out for the summit of Mount Tallac.
The view across Gilmore Lake and Lake Aloha at the Crystal Range and Jacks Peak (the lower summit on the right). Before too long I joined a few dozen others on the summit of Mount Tallac. This is a very popular peak, the sixth most popular on the SPS list according to Peakbagger, between Clouds Rest and Mount Dana, so don’t expect the usual summit amenities like a summit register and some peace and quiet. But the view of Tahoe and the Desolation Wilderness is nice.
From the summit I headed directly west across some talus towards Peak 9376. The travel through this section was easy cross country and it was much quieter.
View of the ridgeline, with Jacks Peak and Dicks Peak behind.
Looking back at Mount Tallac from somewhere near Peak 9376. Beyond peak 93766, the enjoyable cross country travel continued along the ridge, with some ups and downs and occasional fun scrambling moves.
The view of Dicks Peak from the trees just west of Peak 9579. This was the only peak with a summit register, one of Bob Burd’s Sierra Challenge branded boxes. There were a few entries, maybe 1 or 2 per month, including one from “Deputy” Sean promoting his Tahoe High Route
Dicks Lake, Fontanillis Lake, and the Velma Lakes from the ascent of Dicks Peak. I was able to follow a use trail up this peak by sticking south of the bump to the west of the peak, then crossing the saddle between this bump and the peak and descending about 200’ down talus. I’m not convinced this was any easier or more fun than just ascending the ridgeline.
Looking south over Half Moon Lake and Susie Lake. Smoke from the wildfires can be seen in the distance, though it looked far away.
The view of Jacks Peak from Dicks Peak. On the summit I met a guy named Alex who was out linking a similar set of peaks via the Twin Lakes Trailhead. This area contains a very popular trail run, the “Seven Summits of Desolation” (Ralston, Pyramid, Agassiz, Price, Jacks, Dicks, Tallac) so it attracts some attention.
The ascent of Jacks Peak was the most “technical” part of the traverse. I rounded the little bump on the descent from Dicks on the northwest, then stuck to the ridgeline as close as possible on the way up Jacks which was about class 2 through the lower steep section in the shadow.
The view of Dicks Peak from Jacks Peak. On the summit of Jacks a group of 6 or 8 trail runners appeared from the other side. They weren’t too interested in talking except to ask for a picture and some descent beta, but I was able to figure out they were doing the Seven Summits loop.
The descent from Jacks Peak wasn’t too bad, I went more or less directly southwest towards Mosquito Pass, though some natural gullies forced me west around the steep terrain directly east of Mosquito Pass. It was a bit loose for the top 400 feet, but the rock quality improved below that.
Lake Aloha through the trees near Mosquito Pass. The lake level was really low. Normally I’d expect several groups camped in this area, but it was still closed to all overnight use, so I enjoyed some quiet for a while before encountering day hikers near Heather Lake.
On the hike back to the car, there were some nice views of Jacks and Dicks Peaks, especially from Susie Lake. Below that it was mostly forested, though with some nice fall colours.