Sorry about the formatting on the previous email.  Stupid Microsoft Word.... 
 
My daughter and I planned a week of Sierra Spring skiing months ago, before anyone knew the Sierra would not be getting snow this year.  Fortunately, March was ‘Miracle March’ and April has been ‘Amazing April’ with feet of snow falling.  Still way below normal, but disaster (for us) was averted.
 
We started our week not in the Sierras, but in the Cascades.  Lassen Volcanic National Park, with its eponymous Lassen Peak (or is it the other way around?), marks the southern end of the Cascades. While Lassen is the largest, there are a number of volcanic peaks and remnant peaks from the ancient Mount Tehama which collapsed about 350,000 years ago.  As the largest peaks in that part of California, Lassen park collects more snow than perhaps any other part of California.
 
We arrived in Chester, Ca. (the ‘gateway’ city for Lassen Park) on Saturday night after a long day of traveling.  I asked the hotel clerk for a recommendation for dinner and she said, ‘The bowling alley has really good burgers!’.  That accurately sums up Chester.
 
Day 1
 
Getting up early on Easter Sunday, we started skinning from the park entrance by 7am.  There were 10 cars in the parking lot and as many feet of snow on the ground:
http://tinyurl.com/7hmvj4m
 
The roads through the park are unplowed over the winter.  About ¾ mile from park headquarters is the Sulfur Works – an area of geothermal activity.  Boiling mud pots, fumeroles, that kind of stuff:
http://tinyurl.com/7zcv7xf
 
Most of the park visitors walked on the densely packed snow up to the Sulfur Works.  Going any further was limited to snowshoers and ski tourers.  The smell at the Works was powerful (like rotten eggs) and for the next half hour the wind delivered little reminders as we climbed.
We met one other pair of skiers at the Sulfur Works.  After chatting for a few minutes we were each on our way.  We saw them later in the distance lapping another ridge.  We did not see anyone else until we returned to the car.
We headed up to Ridge Lake:
http://tinyurl.com/6m2qp54
 
And then found our way up to the ridge between Mount Diller and Pilot Pinnacle.  Max altitude was around 8500 feet – about 1800 feet higher than our start.
http://tinyurl.com/7lexqvn
 
We did laps off the ridges between Mount Diller, Pilot Pinnacle and Eagle Peak.  Here’s a shot from the ridge with the shoulder of Diller in the background:
http://tinyurl.com/7twh8xt
 
The snow softened up nicely by 11am.  We did several laps, changing aspects with the sun.  Here we are hiking up a northwest facing line with Mount Diller in the background:
http://tinyurl.com/7op3gfw
 
We skied until 3-ish when the snow started to get too soft and we began to worry about wet slides.  Admiring our work:
http://tinyurl.com/7xcgbvd
 
Day 2
 
Mondays objective was Brokeoff Mountain.  At 9,285 feet, it is the second highest peak in Lassen Volcanic Park. The peak is the largest of the remnants of Mount Tehama and was sculpted by massive glaciers. This left a near vertical north face giving the impression that part of the mountain 'broke off'.  Brokeoff is the large peak on the left:
http://tinyurl.com/8xdfoux
 
The trail starts about a quarter mile south of the park entrance. We were the only car in the parking lot this morning - we had our own personal national park!
The ascent started right from the road. We followed the summer hiking trail up to Forest Lake via the southeast ridge.  We then traversed over to the southwest ridge for the climb to the top. About a mile into the approach:
http://tinyurl.com/7xagnfj
 
The views throughout the ascent were impressive, including Mount Lassen to the North:
http://tinyurl.com/7b6gykt
 
The avalanche forecast for the day was low with pockets of moderate developing as the sun warmed the snowpack. The terrain was fairly complex and we tried to choose our route carefully, navigating the puzzle of lower angled slopes. There were no trail markings, but the terrain was fairly open and we almost always had our objective in site. There were a couple of spots where the trail did cross steeper slopes. We saw re-frozen pinwheels from solar heating the previous day, but we were up and down before it became dangerously soft.
Here we are following a set of tracks up before turning left in the trees to gain the summit ridge:
http://tinyurl.com/7xpwask
 
Once up on the summit ridge, there was a fair bit of wind loading:
http://tinyurl.com/86k5gzh
 
Feeling somewhat over our heads in navigating a safe route, we stopped about 300 vertical feet from the summit at the small rock outcrop where our tracks end:
http://tinyurl.com/85ejjur
 
The requisite photo op at the top:
http://tinyurl.com/76esszl
 
The ski down was 30 minutes of perfect corn:
http://tinyurl.com/7s46x85
 
Our short time skiing Lassen National Park was incredible. We could have easily spent the week there - in fact, one could spend a winter exploring the many peaks.  Later in the spring, they start plowing the park road.  Once completed, a ski of Lassen Peak itself becomes doable in a day by driving into the center of the park.
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - SkiVt-L is brought to you by the University of Vermont.

To unsubscribe, visit http://list.uvm.edu/archives/skivt-l.html