Lassen Peak
(Spring Climbing in January)

19-20 Jan 2003 - by Stephane Mouradian

Trip participants: Rick and Dee Booth, Tom Driscoll, Nancy Fitzsimmons, Tony Stegman, Chris Prendergast, Kirsten Mouradian and leaders Steve Eckert and Stephane Mouradian, scribe and his third attempt to Lassen in winter.

This trip was originally scheduled in December 14, 2002, the same week end the remants of the Super Typhoon hit Northern California. For once it was worth rescheduling as we had perfect weather for the second try.

We left the Chalet around 8am on foot initially and later on snowhoes and skis. We followed the road the whole way to Helen Lake. We did not take the Diamond peak cut off on the way up. We snowshoed / skied past Helen Lake and continued to the point where the road reaches a saddle. Lassen SW ridge starts just above the saddle. From this point, we headed a up a steep slope toward the ridge to reach a bench about 300 feet above the saddle. This bench offers some protected camping spots and put us in the best position to climb up the ridge the next morning. In addition, the bench offers very open views with morning and evening sun. It took us 7 hours to reach this spot after a fairly slow climb up the road.

We started from camp with crampons at 7am on Sunday morning. Following the ridge, we reached the summit at 9am, achieving 1000 feet/hour. There was only moderate wind at the summit considering we were there in January. Three of us glissaded down the bowl. The snow had softened and although it started steep, the glissade ended in a very gradual flat run. The glissaders were back to camp at 10:30am. The rest of the group who hiked down the ridge reported bad cases of balling crampons, due to the softer snow and arrived at camp around 11am..

As we were packing, Heather Kirkby and Austin Meinert arrived at our camp as they were day touring in the park. Interestingly, they said it had taken them 3.5 hours from the chalet, taking all the short cuts and also probably less breaks than we did.

We left camp around noon. The snowshoers took the diamond peak cut off and the skiers followed the road all the way. Overall it took about 4 hours down for the entire group to come down.

We had two nice days above the Valley fog. Lassen Park in winter is a beautiful place which begs for more exploration. Other possibilities include day trips to Broke off, Mount Diller or Eagle Peak. Stay tuned for some more trips in the area.

Stephane Mouradian

Pictures by Steve Eckert - click on thumbnails for larger images!

Lassen Peak from the Chalet (parking):

Sunset from our campsite:

Sunrise from our campsite:

Moonset from our campsite:

Moon setting as the sun is rising, looking over the shoulder of Lassen:

Stephane on the summit block of Lassen:

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