Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Volcano skiing road trip

This Spring's heavy snow on the Cascade volcanos provided exceptional snowpack into the summer. Following my Cascade inaugural on Shasta and the end of May, I arranged with Pete Keane of Timberline Guides to guide me on a climb and ski of the South Sister in Oregon over the long 4th of July weekend.
On my way there, I stopped at Lassen for an altitude warm-up hike and ski on Reading Peak, a secondary ridge on the East side of the park. I hiked on the Paradise Meadows trail, next to the road closure point at Emigrant Pass, until I reached snow line at around 7k ft, skinned from there to the ridge at 8,400ft to ski some 600 vertical of nice corn snow, followed by 800 vertical of sun-cupped, runneled, pine-cone covered glop to the hike down.
On Monday, we started just after 4pm from the Devil's Lake trailhead, hiked to more or less continuous snow on a gully at around 6k, and skinned from there to the crater's rim at 10,200 ft with just a short pitch of bootpacking a headwall. The weather was incredibly clear for July, and a stiff cold wind kept us cool on the climb and kept the top 1500 ft vertical in top condition for skiing. Pete took lots of pictures and a few videos of the climb and of the great corn skiing up top, and also of the almost 1.5 mi plateau slog (both ways) over sun cups and runnels. A beautiful close to my most record-setting ski season ever: most powder days, most days of self-propelled skiing, most self-propelled summits, highest elevation skied. No injuries, either.
Many thanks are due to a diverse crew of ski partners (the largest ever, too) and guides in California, Oregon, and British Columbia. You are the people that make this crazy pursuit possible, worth doing, and safer than most would believe. And more than thanks to Ana and the kids, who let me do this even though it worries them more than they let on.

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