We started up the mountain at about 5:30 on a beautiful clear day. It was my first ski mountaineering trip.
As it turned out, the access road was still snowed in so we parked at its head and started through the fairly dense woods at about 4000 ft. (at high speed I might add). The goal was to end up on the ridge trail which we did sooner or later.
At about 7500 feet the trees opened up and the snow was just glistening. We put on our skis and tacked up the hill. Now, this was all new to me and I had to spend some qt on my butt before figuring out that I really did have to jam all my weight onto my heels (my new buddy John was telling the truth). I found that to be harder than it seemed it should be. We skied up about 700 feet before putting the skies back on the pack and trudging on up.
The last stretch I cut up the north bowl rather than going up the ridge. I am still not sure if I was better or worse off for doing so because, while it cut a tiny bit of distance, it was a thigh burner.
The views at the top were amazing though! We could see Shasta Thielson and most of northern California and southern Oregon it seemed.
We skied down the north bowl, and it too was beautiful. We were able to ski most of the way down and the snow was like 'budda', not really what I expected at all.
A beautiful mountain on a beautiful day!
Following a dry winter, here are current conditions for skiing Mt McLoughlin:
May 13, 2014: drove to trailhead seeing only a couple small snow patches alongside the road. Left trailhead at 5:15 and carried skis for 2.3 miles up the trail, putting them on at 6500'. Skinned up through the woods along the approximate route of the trail, adding ski-crampons to the mix as the angle steepened on near-perfect crust. Put skis back on pack at 8200' on ridge proper at treeline, and booted straight up ridge to summit on good snow. There were a couple small moats opening up along the ridge about ten feet back from the cornice. Topped out at 9AM. Summit boulders and register buried under snow. Clicked in and skied NE bowl on perfect silky corn. Soft enough to make tracks but not so soft as to make snowball rollers or sluffs. Cut out of bottom of bowl to south into woods at 7360' (small arrow on tree), and skied down through open trees to about 7100' before starting to angle further south to rejoin trail. Skied down to bare ground and hoofed it back out the trail to the car by 10:15. McLoughlin is a fantastic spring skiing objective: when the road is open and the trail half-melted, it feels very accessible! Don't forget your NW Forest Pass or a $5 bill for the trailhead parking!