Brokeoff Mountain
(A leisurely ascent in early winter)

16-17 Dec 2006 - by Rob Yang

On Saturday I drove up from San Jose to Lassen Volcanic National Park, intent on doing some snowshoeing / snowcamping and hopefully getting up a peak. The NPS had informed me that there was about 2' of snow at the southwest entrance, of which a few inches was new. Good enough for me. The previous weekend I'd been to Lee Vining Canyon where there was hardly any snow at all, and I figured there was probably no more than a foot and a half in the Tahoe area.

I set out from the parking lot (6700') after lunch under cloudy skies. As I snowshoed up towards Forest Lake intermittent light snow fell. I think the high temp was probably in the 20's. There trail through the forest was fairly straightforward with orange and red markers affixed to trees. I'd been up this way this past January, and made it to about 8200' before deciding to descend due to avy hazard. This time the avy hazard was low.

Around the outlet of Forest Lake (7500') I headed NW up a drainage to about 8100' and pitched my shelter on a flat place amid lightly falling snow. The top few inches was powdery, and underneath was a hard layer which didn't yield to my aluminum shovel blade, so I dug down using the adze of my ice axe to set anchors. I found that once the hard layer was broken the digging was easier.

I melted snow, fixed myself dinner, and dozed off. There was very intermittent light snow, or perhaps it was just being blown around. Temps overnight were probably in the teens. The summit of Brokeoff Mountain (9235') was only a little more than a thousand feet up from my camp, so I didn't bother getting up for an alpine start, and anyway it would have been frickin' cold :)

At 6:30am I got up to greet a clearing blue sky and dug out my food and water, hidden overnight in the safe insulation of a snow pit, ate breakfast, and headed out by 7:30. Initially I was on snowshoes, but as I started up the south ridge towards Brokeoff's south slope I noticed that most of the snow had been blown away, revealing a crust of rime ice which had occasional dustings of windblown powder on top. Around 8600' I got out the crampons and ice axe (phew, glad I brought the steel crampons this time ...)

The south slope was not all that steep - probably about 30 degrees at most. I got to top of the peak before 9am and took some pictures of Lassen Peak, Mt. Shasta, Lake Almanor, etc. Mercifully the wind was relatively light because it was still pretty cold. I snacked briefly and then headed down.

Back at camp I packed up and descended back the way I'd come up. The sun warmed the morning, and by 11:30 or so I was cleaning the inch or two of snow off my car. By lunchtime I was at the deli in Mineral :)

I posted some pictures on here.

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