Lassen Peak is the southernmost prominent volcano in the Cascade Arc. It's summit rests at 10,457 ft. It also has the highest known winter snowfall in California. In some years over 1000 inches of snow falls in a single season.
We walked about a mile and a half from Emigrant Pass, through the devastated area in tennis shoes until we reached the snow level around 7,000ft. The route is relatively easy to follow, although there is no trail, just stay left of the stream and head west. We got a nice alpine start of 4am and were skinning by sunrise.
We skinned up the Southeast face toward the summit until the slip began and booted the rest. Summited about 8:30 and waited for a bit till the snow softened. Skiing by 9am, the snow was a bit hard at the top, perfect in the middle and soft at the bottom.
Then we drove to the coast, saw some giant trees and some beautiful blue water.
With just under 400 inches of snow falling during the season at Stevens Pass, almost 200" fell in February! 53 inches fell over the weekend of the 19th. The results were neck deep.
Staying in the RV lot is decidedly fun. The RV got buried over and over.
Then the sun came out and we took a trip to Mt. Rainier to ski a bit. The scenery was spectacular. The skiing was good too. We skinned up to Camp Muir and skied the snowfield down to Paradise.
The view of the Three Sisters from Bend, Oregon is incredible. These mountains are a rarity in the volcanic world, being that they are so close together. The summits of the Three Sisters span a distance of just five miles and have over fifteen glaciers. Some years you can ski well into July. In the late 1800s they were known as Faith, Hope and Charity, beginning from the north. It makes sense that the North Sisters was named Faith.
The Summits of these mountains have been drawing me in for years. The Middle Sister sits at 10,047 ft. This will be the last ski for the spring. The snow is melting fast.
Jamie and I drove from Bend to Sisters, up and over McKenzie Pass, through the 2,600 year old, sixty-five square mile lava flow to the Obsidian Trailhead at Frog Camp to begin our journey up.
We got to the trailhead around 5pm with plans of sleeping in the back of the truck and getting started around 3am for our 14 mile hike. The mosquitos changed our minds, so we packed up and hurried out of there, hiked about 3 miles to a good bivy spot and slept outside under a tree. Got up around 4am and headed up to the snow.
We skinned up the expanses of snowfields between the Renfrew and Collier Glaciers to the Hayden/Renfrew pass. From there we hiked with our skis on our packs up the north ridge to the summit.
We hung out on the top for a little while and enjoyed the views and the sun.
I tried to fly my kite, but the wind wasn't blowing hard enough. Can't complain about that.
So we skied.
We reached the snow line, switched up our gear, took a break next to a stream, then hiked back to our bivy site and reloaded again for the few miles back to the truck.
Back to the car by 1pm. Another beautiful day in the mountains and our 17th Volcano!
The snow is melting super fast in Oregon. It's been really warm lately. Last week skiing on Broken Top the snow was basically done by 9am, so we decided to get a nice alpine start on McLoughlin. The plan was to head to the northwest side, in hopes of skiing the NW bowl where the sun wouldn't destroy so early. Jamie and I drove the truck all the way around to the Twin Ponds trailhead where we discovered all the snow at that elevation was melted and we would have to bushwhack through the relentless brush for hours. We scouted around for a good hour trying to decide whether or not it was worth it. Finally, we decided to bag the NW bowl and just hike the normal route and ski the NE bowls.
We got to the trailhead on Sunday night about 7pm, tried to sleep by 8pm, so we could wake up and be ready to hike by 2:30am. We were hiking through the dark forest with our headlamps by 3. Luckily, hiking at this hour, you're basically asleep so you don't really realize you're walking and plus, the mosquitos are still sleeping. At about 5am the sun started to rise. It was beautiful!
Soon enough we hit snow and the tree line and got our first views of the summit and the northeast bowls.
Jamie and I reached the Summit at 7:30, hung out for a half hour or so to let the snow soften a little.
About 8:15am we skied down 2000 ft of beautiful corn in the northeast bowl!
At the bottom of the bowl we stopped on a big flat rock on the terminal moraine, ate "lunch" and took a short nap before the five mile hike back to the car.
Broken Top is one of five major Volcanoes in the Sisters area of Oregon. It's highest peak sits at 9,175 ft. Most of the mountain has been eroded away by glaciers. Left behind is a breathtaking mountain with red colored lava pinnacles and super steep skiable faces.
Jamie and I headed up to the Todd Lake trailhead and were skinning by 5am. The snow was a little patchy down low, but we only had to portage our skis over the dirt a few times.
The approach from Todd Lake to the Summit is about six miles each way. The snow was frozen solid making the side hilling with skins a bit difficult. Within a couple of hours we neared the tree line and got our first views of the summit and lines we wanted to ski.
The original plan was to ski from somewhere near the summit on the Crook glacier. The highest summit on Broken Top is in the center. As we got closer to the mountain we began to see how rimed out the summit was and how an approach from the north would make summiting much more possible on the eroded volcanic rock. We reached the tree line by around 7:30. The snow was heating up super fast and we decided to head up to the South Summit.
We skinned up the south ridge on the left with hopes of skiing off the southwest summit onto the ramp with the exposure below. By the time we reached the saddle and the final approach to the summit the east facing snow was totally rotten and roller balling, so that awesome ski descent was out.
The views of the volcanic pinnacles are off the hook! There are so many incredible lines to ski.
We reached the Southwest Summit around 11am, enjoyed the views, ate a snack and hurried down to catch the corn before it was gone.
We ended up skiing the Southwest Face. The snow was perfect!
Yesterday we skied Mt. Bailey. Today, Mt. Thielsen! 2 Volcanoes 2 Days. We got started from the Mt. Thielsen trailhead at 6:30am and hiked snowless through the trees for 3 miles towards the west ridge. We had plans to ski something on the northwest face.
We gained the ridge with the summit view within a few hours and decided we would ski this face (the snow on the northwest side looked like it would hold up the longest to the bright sun). The summit route is on the southwest side of the mountain and mostly snow free, so we skinned as far as the snow went and changed back to our tennis shoes for the summit rocks.
It was about 800ft from where the snow stopped to the summit rocks. I think this might be a better ski in early April.
The summit pinnacle is literally a bunch of small boulders all piled on top of each other. Below is a picture of the route on the south side of the summit rocks. We climbing straight up this. Some say it's a class 5 roped climb, others, a class 3 scramble. I think it could go either way depending on the route you choose, right in between, a class 4 scramble, no rope necessary.
We reached the summit at 11:30!
We headed down and were skiing by about 12:30. Perfect corn for about 1500ft!
We popped back up onto the ridge and followed it down through the trees to the trail. We saw one other person all day. Great to meet you, Shelly. Just three women ripping on the mountain today!
Found the top of Mt. Bailey today. My first Volcano this spring. Very exciting! Mt. Bailey at 8,368 ft sits on the west side on Diamond Lake in central Oregon.
There are a few different ways to approach the summit of Mt. Bailey, we took the southeast ridge route. You can drive to the end of a forest road and the hike would only be 2.5 miles each way. With high hopes, we drove up that way to no avail. Snow blocked our path within a mile. So we retreated around to the east side, drove up another road to try to shave off a few miles of dirt walking. The GPS said the trail was only a 1/4 from where we parked, so we bushwacked our way through the trees, over a stream, through some spider webs and up a hill. After all the clambering around we finally found the trail around noon. A little late for skiing volcanoes. After a couple of mile of walking with skis on packs on the dirt trail we found the road we could have drove to the end of and from there continuous snow! I believe it was around 6,080 ft.
Up and up we hiked through the trees, never very steeply. The trail is super easy to follow. There are blue triangles on the trees every fifty feet or so. The only real tough part is you never can see the mountain until you are basically on top.
From here, you can either crawl along the ridge over the rocks or walk around the back of the crater. We chose the later.
The top of the SE ridge was pretty cool. We took our skis off to hike around some rocks, then on up to the big round summit!
The snow was half melted off the summit. It was beautiful up there!
We hung out for a bit, ate some lunch, then skied down the big east facing bowl and followed a snowmobile track out. That track brought us right back to the forest road where we met up with the trail and donned tennis shoes back to the truck.
Skiing the Chamonix valley is amazing! It's hard to describe the majesty of the mountains here. Chamonix and the surrounding areas are the birthplace of skiing and it's always been my dream to visit. Two of my friends have been living in Argentiere for the winter, so Jamie and I went to ski for a couple of weeks.
The views from Margie's house were astounding and I couldn't keep my jaw from dropping. The first day of skiing was beautiful and sunny, but freezing. I think it was -5 F. These next photos are from Les Grands Montet, one of the ski areas we visited.
Click on the smaller photos to view them bigger.
We went to check the out the scene in Cham for an afternoon. The city is beautiful!
From downtown, I couldn't stop staring at this cable car atop Le Brevent.
Over the next few days, we skied several of the resorts around Chamonix and checked out the culture.
Then it really snowed and the weather cleared! Sunny Pow Day in France!
Another Gallery for your enjoyment.
We really wanted to get over to Switzerland to Ski Verbier. The bus ride is just over an hour from Chamonix and $35 round trip. Somehow, we had amazing luck with the weather and hit Verbier on a bluebird pow day. It seemed all the high lifts and trams had been closed for a few days and were just opening as we arrived!
Verbier has 4 Vallees. You can buy a day pass for 85 US dollars that gets you unlimited access to all the trams and lifts. The terrain here is incredible. The trams are everywhere and they give you access to some of the most amazing skiing i've ever experienced.
So far skiing in Europe has been off the hook! It's hard to say which ski area was my favorite, but skiing the Augiulle Du Midi might take the cake. The Vallee Blanche is about 20km of glacier skiing with some of the best views in Chamonix. I'll let the pictures do the talking.
At the toe of the Glacier there was a path leading into these ice tunnels. I haven't really taken the time to figure out why they are there. The crystal clear ice is beautiful.
This was the trip of a life time for me! I hope I get to go back soon!
Headed north from Leavenworth, WA to Blue River, BC, an epic backcountry skiing adventure awaited me, until the Canadian Border Patrol decided to step in and make things difficult. Happily driving on my own through Canada I was supposed to meet the Powderwhore Productions team in Kamloops at 7pm, then we were to drive together to ski at the Snowy Mountain Lodge for a week. To make a long story short, the boys didn't make it across the border (too many cameras) so I turned around and drove back to the US, but not before picking up a fellow skier chic at the airport in Kamloops. In hopes of still making some sort of adventure happen we drove the six hours back to the US border and headed to Lake Chelan to meet everyone else for plan B.
Holden Village. A old mining town turned Lutheran retreat, only accessed by boat.
I had heard of the Holden Village Retreat before and I know of the epic mountains surrounding the west end of the lake, so I was pretty excited about our new plan. There wasn't any snow on the ground in Chelan and that left a little question in everyone's mind. We loaded up the ferry with ski gear anyway and took off on a two and a half hour boat ride up lake in hopes of finding that secret pow stash high in the alpine.
There was a posse of people and a school bus waiting on the dock to greet us.
We arrived in Holden Village around 1:30 in the afternoon and got right to it. We hiked up into the trees to get a feel for what we were going to ski for the next few days. We found some great snow and equally great views of the huge peaks all around us.
For the next few days we hiked and skied into the valleys surrounding the village and found some pretty awesome stuff.
The village itself was really cool. They have a dinner bell that they ring three times a day as soon as the food is ready! The rooms are dorm style and they have a wood fired sauna equipped with a cold pool.