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Eagle Lake Buttress, Desolation Wilderness, CA

Nearing the Summit of Eagle Lake Buttress


This is a very cool little jaunt out of South Lake Tahoe.  Close to the road, it has a little bit of everything -- a nice approach hike, great views and a wide range of climbing options from fun scrambling to stiff vertical climbing.  This is not the typical chossy volcanic Tahoe rock you find around the north shore; this is very nice Tuolumne caliber granite.  Grade A stuff.

Park at the Eagle Falls trailhead along Highway 89 at Emerald Bay.  As of this writing (Summer 2005), the trailhead parking area is under construction.  Parking is available on the roadside and you can skirt around the perimeter of the construction area easily.  Get a predawn start to see an amazing sunrise over the Carson Range and Lake Tahoe. 

The approach follows the well-worn trail to Eagle Lake.  At the lake, cross over the outlet and walk along the north shore for about 1/4 mile.  From there, start heading north cross country, picking your way either up slabs to the right hand side of the cliffs above the lake, or up a big talus chute to the left of the cliffs.  Either way goes -- the chute is a bit longer, the slabs involve some more bushwacking near the top.  When you get above the cliffs, you should see the buttress directly ahead of you.  It's an easy talus hop to the toe of the buttress, where you can evaluate your options.  Some nice routes head right up the south arete; a more moderate "mountaineer's route" heads up the west side of the buttress to the south summit.

From the south summit, you can traverse north along the crest of the buttress and tag all of the highpoints along the way.  Descend either to the east (easier, but lots of schwacking) or to the west (longer and harder) and head back down to Eagle Lake and the trail.

Click on the link below for some photos.

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