Climbed solo on 04/22/2018. Very fun, but I had varying snow conditions making this a bit spicier than described.
Contextual weather info:
- 03/27 Lower Lassen Peak (8,250') snow survey showed 131.5 inches of snow or 69% of April 1st average. Word on the street is we were at ~50% snowpack on the date of my climb.
- 7 days prior: big storm right before the previous weekend, then no major precipitation events through the week. Large temp swings though.
- Overnight temps were in the low 30s, with radiative cooling from clear skies.
I took the approach noted in the original summit post listing: walked down to the parking lot before Sulphur Works, then cut up the Ridge Lakes trail westward. From there I went basically straight up the unnamed 8600' peak, then took a direct route to the couloir. I do not agree with the suggestion to get to the base of the north face and traverse the snow; this exposes the climber to unnecessary risk from snow/ice fall/rock fall from the cliffs above.
Due to some... complications I arrived at the base of the couloir a bit later than expected, around 8 AM. Snow conditions were poor for the first couple hundred feet: postholing to ankle to knee depth. There was a nice slide-width-sized lane of consolidated snow I used for a hundred or so feet - I was punching through everything outside of it.
I'd like to make a few notes here regarding the hazards of this route which are not mentioned:
- There is no "one side" safe from rockfall/icefall. The couloir is very narrow, and it is clear from the debris signs in the couloir snowpack and from live observations of rockfall that it comes from both sides.
- The east side of the couloir is exposed to a whole bunch of large overhanging cornices way up at the top of the ridge. There were some large debris runs in the snow I couldn't figure out until I looked up and saw them. I have a suspicion these drop some huge pieces of snow/ice down under the right conditions.
- The spiciest part of the climb cannot be seen from the base of the couloir, nor can you see it climbing until you are right at the start of it. It looks like it's shaded most of the day in the spring, so conditions here are very different from the lower 90% of the couloir which gets a lot of sun.
- I hit a stretch of ice that would have been difficult to climb if I hadn't brought an ice tool (see below)
After the first couple hundred feet I reached a stretch of snowpack that had a firm ~4" top layer on top of an unconsolidated layer. Luckily no one was following, as I was sending huge plates of snow down the couloir as I broke through on the way up. Here, I also had a fist size rock whiz by 1 foot from my head, as well as a bunch of snow, ice, and small rocks come down from both sides of the couloir.
The crux, for my climb, was about 20-30' of 60ish degree ice at the base of the steep finish. It was really more like ultra-consolidated beyond-pencil-hardness snowpack ("ice" for all intents and purposes) and I didn't actually see I was climbing onto ice until I got zero penetration pressing the picks of my ice tool and ice axe in middle dagger position. Switched over to full swings overhead - couldn't get purchase otherwise. If I hadn't brought my Quark to pair with my axe I don't think I could have continued. I could only get front points in as well.
I climbed to the end of the ice with my body screaming. The final 15' of snow to top out on the cornice had some give so I was able to kick out some steps for rest before finishing. What a climb! It is a really unique experience topping out of a corniced ridge.
Took a break then walked up to the summit of Brokeoff. Returned direct to the visitor's center by going down the south side a bit, then traversing to the east side of the mountain and going off the standard snowshoe/ski trail.
Climbed this route with Rick and Nacho. Even better the second time around. Firm steep snow with a great exit. Basecamp at Forest Lake.
Really fun climb, solid snow with a steep and exciting finish.
Great couloir climbed with great people!
Summitted with a great group. Short and sweet, but with plenty of steep.
Climbed with a team of eight from SMG. This was an exciting route with a short approach. Once you reach the saddle between Brokeoff and Diller, it's just a hop skip and a jump to the base of the Neutrino.
Have been interested in this route for a few years and finally climbed it with Sierra Mountaineering Group. We were afraid of finding very deep slushy conditions, but our super early alpine start insured firm slopes and a fun time.