Angora Peak 2x
Indian Rock
Angora Ridge
Cathedral Peak
Mt. Tallac 2x P500 SPS / OGUL / PYNSP / WSC

Jun 25, 2022
Indian Rock
Mt. Tallac
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profiles: 1 2
Angora Peak previously climbed Jul 12, 2014
Tallac, Mount previously climbed May 12, 2000


Today's agenda in the Lake Tahoe area was primarily focused on completing the last two summits in the Desolation Wilderness, a collection of 40 summits that was first completed by Chris Kerth a few years ago. Other summits today were collected because they were on the way, or seemed to be so. I had camped atop Angora Ridge adjacent to the old lookout tower that still stands. It was one of the best campsites I've found in the area - quiet, no lights, and stunning views off the east and west sides of the ridgeline. I was up around 5:40a, but was slow to get going, still a bit knackered from the previous day's long outing.

Angora Peak - Indian Rock

I had been to Angora Peak 8yrs earlier with my brother Jim on a longish outing out of Echo Lakes, collecting Flagpole Peak and Echo Peak along with Angora. Somehow, I had missed Indian Rock on that outing, requiring a return visit. Both peaks lie on the edge of Desolation Wilderness. The easiest way to reach just these two peaks is from the Angora Lakes parking lot to the northeast. The two summits together would be a bit over 2mi roundtrip with about 1,700ft of gain. The parking lot lies within National Forest lands, but is managed by the Angora Lakes Resort and charges $10 for day-use. Annual federal passes are no good here. I paid the fee, stuck the tear-off tab from the envelope on the dash and headed out shortly before 6:30a.

There's no warm-up on this one, as the route starts off at the NE base of Angora Peak and goes up 1,400ft in 3/4mi to the summit, a pretty steep climb. The slope is lightly forested with little understory. Lots of sand, but pretty decent footing. There are several lines of ducks than can be followed, but these don't really offer any benefit. There are nice views of Fallen Leaf Lake to the north during the ascent. Angora Lakes are really only visible upon reaching the summit. I was to the lower east summit in an hour and a quarter, but it took me another 15min to cover the 400ft to the higher west summit. The upper part of both summits are characterized by large granite blocks and I ended up going the hard way between them. The easier route bypasses the east summit around its north side on class 2 terrain.

I decided to leave my trekking poles at Angora's summit while I went to Indian Rock and back, a distance of about 1/4mi each way. The poles had been more of a hindrance in the upper reaches of Angora Peak, so I figured I'd be better off without them. The traverse directly along the connecting ridge is stiff class 3, something I learned on my first visit. I decided to take the easy way, dropping a short distance off the south side where easier terrain can be found below all the large granite blocks. It would take 30min to get between the two. Views are similar from both summits. There is still much snow to the west on the flanks of Desolation's higher peaks and ridges. To the north, across the drainage formed by Glen Alpine Creek (the inlet to Fallen Leaf Lake) rises Mt. Tallac, the monarch of the region. On its southeast flank at the edge of a high plateau is Cathedral Peak, looking unpeak-like since it has almost no prominence. There was very little snow to be seen on Mt. Tallac. To the east, across South Lake Tahoe, rises the high summits of the Carson Range, including Monument, Freel and Jobs. Very little snow remains in that range.

I left a register on Indian Rock before returning to do the same on Angora Peak while retrieving my poles. I stayed closer to the ridge on the return, finding some fun scrambling, but noting I was already starting to get tired. The descent off Angora went quickly, taking only about 35min down the sandy slopes, having me back at the TH and the Jeep before 9:30a.

Upon returning, the first thing I did was offer my day-use pass to another visitor. The first person had already purchased one, but the second seemed quite happy to save himself $10. Sticking it to the resort association...

Angora Ridge

This is an easy summit on the drive back out from Angora Lakes. There is a short hike of less than a minute to visit the lookout, residence and a utility shed. Though in need of paint, the buildings are in decent shape. None are open to the public. The lookout sits on a foundation no higher than the residence - evidently a steel tower was not needed to perch the cab upon. I suspect that the trees that partially obstruct views were kept trimmed back in the day.

Cathedral Peak - Mt. Tallac

This ended up being a bigger outing than planned, coming in at 10mi with almost 3,500ft of gain. I had already been to Mt. Tallac twice before, \though the last time was 22yrs ago. I don't even have a record of my first visit, but it was undoubtedly the first Tahoe summit I climbed that wasn't part of a ski area. It's a very popular climb, one of the few summits in the area with a trail all the way to the top. It's also one of the highest, only a few hundred feet short of 10,000ft. Cathedral Peak isn't much of a summit, at least when viewed from most angles. I suspect it looks best from the south end of Fallen Leaf Lake where steep slopes on the south and east sides make it look impressive. But as mentioned already, it's really just a subsidiary point on the SE side of Mt. Tallac. I had planned to visit Cathedral Peak using the Mt. Tallac Trail, then return, but I ended up tagging Mt. Tallac as well, mostly because I thought it was a short-ish detour. It is not, I came to find.

I drove back out to SR89, then north for less than a mile to the Mt. Tallac Rd that would take me to the popular TH. Cars were parked everywhere on a busy Saturday, lining the road for a quarter mile down from the TH. Starting shortly before 10a, I had hit it at possibly the most popular time - there would be folks coming and going along the trail the rest of the day. A permit is needed for day-use in Desolation Wilderness, but as I did for the previous day, I ignored this bit of paperwork.

The trail starts off wide as it follows an old roadbed through forest. It then climbs onto a low ridgeline, the lateral moraine on the west side of Fallen Leaf Lake. The forest gives way for a section of this, replaced by manzanita, buckthorn and other brush, leaving views to Lake Tahoe to the north and Fallen Leaf Lake immediately below to the east. The Wilderness boundary is reached in about 2mi, with Floating Island Lake found just beyond. This is a popular destination and many folks only go this far. The lake isn't terribly scenic by most measures, but it makes a convenient destination for those looking for a shorter outing. The trail returns through forest, climbing at a moderate gradient to Cathedral Lake in another mile. This is a second destination where others call it good. Beyond this lake, the trail begins climbing more earnestly as the forest thins and it passes through large sections of talus spilling down from the high cirque above. There is an impressive cliff face to the south that looks like it could be Cathedral Peak (the topo map has it another 1/3mi to the south, however). It seemed worth visiting.

About 400ft below the upper rim of the cirque, I left the trail to make a cross-country effort more directly to this Cathedral candidate. I had to cross some tedious moraine material and then steeply up to the top of the cirque, but it wasn't too bad and took less than 20min to make my way to the top of the point. With 30-40ft of prominence, it seemed a better candidate than the one marked on the map, out of view to the south through forest. After snapping a few pictures of Mt. Tallac and Fallen Leaf Lake, I made my way south to the southern point, taking another 20min. This was a very easy jaunt with little elevation gain or loss, and little brush. Some old snow was found lying in drifts, but not enough to be any sort of hindrance. The "summit" of Cathedral proved nothing special, as expected, but the views looking east, south and west were quite nice. Angora Peak, Indian Rock and Echo Peak could be seen on the ridge to the south opposite the Glen Alpine Creek drainage. It was noon as I sat upon Cathedral Peak and decided I had enough time and energy to pay Mt. Tallac a visit.

More cross-country rambling across alpine meadow, forest and scree flats got me back on the trail by 12:30p. After more than an hour of having the Wilderness to myself, I was back among other folks. Ahead of me by several hundred feet was a young lady in shorts with very nice-looking legs. Better, she was keeping up a pace similar to my own, and I used her as motivation to motor up the remaining mile and a half of trail. It was longer and had more gain than I had imagined, and would keep me occupied for another 40min. Passing other folks who would stop for rest, I noticed the young lady in front of me kept a steady pace like myself, without stopping. I was very slow in catching up to her, but with about 1/4mi remaining, she pulled over to let me pass. I told I was pacing myself behind her for motivation, which garnered a smile. Gabby (she introduced herself when we got to the summit) had spotted me before I had gotten back on the trail and wondered where I'd come from. She told herself that she didn't want to let this guy pass her. As I got closer and she got a better look, she was doubly motivated not to let this old guy pass her. I found this all very amusing. Clearly she was skilled in the arts and this wasn't her first summit. We chatted more when we reached the summit shortly after 1p.

Ever since I had gotten back on the trail, I noticed that thunderstorms were developing over the Carson Range to the southeast, but growing and moving closer all the while. With half a mile remaining, the first crack of thunder was heard. The exposed summit of Mt. Tallac was hardly a good place to be caught out in thunderstorms. With the illusion of safety in numbers, none of the dozens of other folks along the trail expressed openly any concern for the developing weather, nor did they alter course to turn around, myself included. Some light rain began to fall intermittently before we reached the top. There were probably half a dozen other folks hanging about the summit while Gabby and I chatted. Neither of us were too comfortable hanging about for long, so after less than 10min we started down. Gabby had admitted being a trail runner, and downhill was where she could really shine. She took off and was quickly out of sight as I used my old man downhill plodding, at my usual pace.

The rain came more earnestly during the descent, on and off over the next two and a quarter hours. Folks continued heading to the summit, seemingly unconcerned. I wasn't getting soaked, more of a thorough dampness, giving the feel of being in Colorado rather than sunny California. The weather had put a damper on the views, leaving gray skies and poor visibility for most of the descent. I had to put my camera away to keep it from getting wet, but managed a few pictures near the end of the hike when things had dried out a bit. I was surprised in the last mile to find Gabby jogging up from behind me. She had gone down the wrong way at trail junction, descending down towards Fallen Leaf Lake before realizing her error. She was embarrassed by the mishap, but I commented that she was still going to beat me back. Upon my return to the TH after 3:30p, only a few cars were left in the parking lot and along the roadway. I found a parking spot that would afford some privacy for a quick jug shower before I started back to South Lake Tahoe. Upon returning to SR89, I found a long traffic jam originating at Emerald Bay and continuing most of the way back to South Lake Tahoe - gotta love weekend traffic around the lake...


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