Skiing Lassen's NE Face

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 40.48780°N / 121.5039°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jun 9, 2002

June 9, 2002

After skiing Round Top's Crescent Moon Couloir back on May 26, I was eager for another ski trip before the season ended. I had my heart sent on Lassen's awesome Northeast Face for quite some time and was eager to give it a shot. I drove up the day before and spent the night sleeping in my car at the Mineral entrance station before driving up to the peak around 7:00am. My thermometer read about 26°F in the morning. I stopped at several points along the road the the Devastated Area taking photos of different sides of the mountain before settling in to consider the NE Face. I hiked in a bit just to check out the trail but when I found that it was more like cross country travel to the base of the face before the climb, I reconsidered and decided I'd stick with the easily accessible South Face for my first ski trip here. Although I did hike up the South Face, the NE Face would ultimately prove irresistible for skiing this day.

After parking at the Lassen Peak Trailhead, I headed up the normal trail before traversing west across the South Face and entering a small bowl through the left-hand chute of the South Face route. This turned out to be the best part of the ascent. The going up wasn't too notable and neither was the little bowl above but looking down for a ski descent, it looked sweet. I ran into two skiers hiking up from the SE Ridge that were intent on skiing the small chute. They had been here since Friday (3 day weekend) and had skied the West Face before. The told me the West Face was sweet corn and that they had looked at the Northeast Face but that was "not set up." They said several skiers they saw attempted the descent but ended up turning around and skinning back up the face. Some good recent beta! I told them about the chute and took some photos as the skied down through it.

I then hiked up through some really loose class 2 - the kind the park tells you to avoid ;-) When I got to the trail, the summit was in view already and I made the short hike to the summit. I passed a group of 7 having lunch on top who were going to ski the NE Face and then near the summit I ran into 2 hikers. The hikers and I took photos of each other on top and then looking down the face I saw the group of 7 take off down the NE Face. I decided that I had to do it even though I had no car shuttle. It was just too tempting. After the 2 left, I had the summit and the rest of the day on the mountain to myself. Hiking down a little, I had to put on my downhill ski boots and skis in 40-50 mph winds. It was so windy that I also switched from sunglasses to ski goggles. The upper part of the NE Face was very hard and icy - which meant it was really easy to hold an edge but a little sketchy for a full on descent. I traversed over to the east side before skiing down the face. The snow got progressively better as I made my way down and near the bottom it was sweet corn. At this point I wasn't sure whether to hike up to the summit and back down to my car or head out to the Devastated Area and hitch a ride. I decided to go for the unknown and skied out through the Devastated Area by myself. I ended up following a gully into Lost Creek on the way out. After a while, the route seemed to be veering away in the wrong direction so I checked my compass. I had taking a reading in the morning and confirming I was heading in the wrong direction I left the gully and hiked through the woods until I saw Raker Peak's SW Face.

When I got to the road, it was time to hitch a ride back to the summit parking lot. I've never hitched before and wasn't sure how hard it was going to be. I quickly found out, hiking with skis on your back so very close to summer isn't the best way to get a ride. After the Devastated Area parking lot I continued to hike along the road but stashed my pack and skis in the woods. I thought I'd hike/run faster to my car without the weight and if I did manage to get a ride, I'd look less intimidating without the gear ;-) After Hat Lake I did run into 2 good Samaritans who gave me a lift. It was only after driving back to collect my gear I realized it was 11.7 miles along the road between the Devastated Area and where I had parked. Although it was still reasonbly early, with the morning temp at 7:00am at 26°F, it was a good thing I was out before the sun went down ;-) Anyway, it was a fun day and I hope to head up to ski this one again ... many times!


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