Mountain #7: Lassen Peak

February 15, 2015

Corie: This was the weekend of mile-reducing short cuts, snow kitchens, early rising, sunburns, and laughing fits. This weekend we drove 8 hours south to meet two friends at Lassen Volcanic National Park and we four had an adventure in the SNOW. This trip was a snowy overnight and so, laden with gear, the four of us excitedly marched our way up the trail to the base of Lassen Peak- working on our tans and catching up.


When we arrived at the trail head, we found ourselves completely alone and made ourselves at home.  Hopper and Kelsey dug a beautiful kitchen in the snow (complete with a bench and counter top). Andy was the sweetest and boiled water for me to put into my metal water bottle (hot water heater, yo!) and we went to sleep around 8pm in the utterly quiet shadow of the mountain.


Going to bed SO early made all the difference when we pulled ourselves out of our sleeping bags at 4am.  The entire climb was UP and aside from my being CONVINCED that I was getting frostbite (Corie minus coffee= crazy) and the fact that I’d stupidly forgotten to change the batteries in my headlamp, we both climbed with relative ease and speed.  I felt super fit during this stretch of climbing and I’m pretty sure that it has to do entirely with my new training schedule that includes running intervals at 75% max and running laps on stairs in between miles.  Training really truly makes all the difference.


The summit was epic- truly beautiful to the point of me nearly being in tears as we crossed the false summit to the true summit. Between the mountain’s shadow and the silhouette of Mt Shasta looming in the distance and the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen, this mountain was truly incredible.  I once again felt incredibly lucky to be in such a beautiful place and to have reached yet another summit.


After we made it back to camp (battling fierce wind the entire time) Kelsey and I realized that we were “twinning” so that was pretty neat- we spent the remainder of the day playing around in the snow on snowshoes and skis and watched small groups of people pass by on their own private adventures.  I was beyond content on this day and spent the entire day in awe of our good fortune and amazing company.


Andy: This last weekend was just pure fun. A culmination of Valentine’s day, President’s day weekend, awesome friends that we don’t get to see too frequently, and a bomber mountain. Everything was a blast, from the splitter weather to the gourmet wine-in-a-bag (Cardboardeaux anyone?) . Lassen Peak handed us a beautiful weekend to play in the mountains and we took full advantage.


This was the first mountain for our project that we’ve spent two days on, so dialing in our overnight rig was fun on this relatively laid-back weekend. We’ve utilized our 4-season tent in other arenas, but we had yet to pack it all up and travel with it. It was nice to try out different methods of staking in the snow with plenty of daylight and energy left. The other new component to this trip was our Goal Zero solar panel and charging kit. I can typically run my phone with a GPS app going for about 10 hours, depending on how cold it is and how many pictures I take. With overnight trips, we needed some way to charge our devices and this kit seemed like the obvious set up. I was able to fully charge my phone at night off the battery pack and re-charge the batteries with the solar panels strapped to the top of my backpack during the day. Pretty slick.


In between all this gear fondling, we also managed to summit Lassen and I skied down the southeast bowl. This peak felt pretty easy and many things worked in our favor during this trip. The 7 mile approach turned into a little less than 6 due to short-cutting sections of the road, leaving us with only a short jaunt from our base camp to the summit. This section also turned into less mileage than anticipated as we skipped a few big switchbacks. The snow was in perfect condition for cramponing during our early morning start and the route proved easy to follow and navigate. We’re also both feeling quite fit these days due to lots of training, but even more prominent is a feeling of familiarity in the mountains – moving over snow and ice in a variety of terrain. I think this is a key factor in us moving quickly and efficiently. We’re both at ease and working as a team better than ever before. I’ve felt this comfortable, relaxed feeling on rock before, usually after 2-3 days of adjusting to a new zone or rock type. It’s a feeling of liberation; I’m not hesitant and no mental barriers exist. It’s fun to experience this feeling in an alpine setting.



In Summary…

777: Seventh Mountain in Seven Months in Seven Attempts. That’s a lot of luck. We really ought to start gambling or something.


We parked at the southern entrance station and skied/hiked/ snow shoed in just under 6 miles (we cut off over a mile of the regular road with a few steep shortcuts) and pitched our tents at the Lassen Peak Trailhead as the sun was setting. We got started around 5am the next morning and pushed an additional 1.5 miles to the summit. The terrain was never that steep (40 degrees max), but with hard snow and some big run-outs, crampons and an axe were great. Later in the day, its possible to skin all the way up to the summit although ski crampons would probably be very helpful. We summited just after 7am, and arrived back at camp around 8:30am. Taking two days to climb this mountain under these conditions was super fun and pretty casual. It seems very possible to do this climb in one day with an alpine start, especially on skis because the 6 miles on the road out is all downhill.


Equipment List

Identical to Saint Helens, plus:

  • Tent (We love our Mountain Hardwear Trango 2)

  • Jetboil

  • Goal Zero Guide 10+ Kit (First time using this rig and its awesome. Great for powering GPS, phones, cameras, headlamps)

  • Avi gear (Probe, shovel, beacon)

  • Sleeping bags and pads



The Stats:

Total Distance: 14.2 miles 
Time: 1 day for the ~6 mile approach, 1 day to summit and exit 
Starting Elevation: 6,744’ (southern park entrance) 
Summit Elevation: 10,336’



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