After another couple of days seeking out spring perfection on Mt. Shasta, the call was made to check out the most southern peak in the Cascade Range this past Sunday, Mt. Lassen. Word from the National Park Service (NPS) initially spoke to the park road opening for a brief period this past weekend to allow full viewing of Sunday’s solar eclipse. Unfortunately the road only opened for a few extra miles from the north access zone known as the Devastated Area, but that didn’t stop our crew of nine from searching out some incredibly smooth corn skiing, as well as partaking in a very unique solar experience.
With a later than usual start, and tougher access due to the road closure, our crew headed up through a maze of dense California conifers skinning past an amazing array of picturesque waterfalls,
and winding our way up towards the E-NE side of the peak.
The forecasted winds that we had thought would keep the snow firmer were nonexistent, so we made the call to go for an aesthetic chute rather than the typical summit ski since the canvass looked as smooth as anything in the greater zone. Here’s Aaron, Justin, Keim, Brian, and Dan putting in the booter,
with the ladies making sure the steps were worthy.
At the top we all took turns enjoying the call to ski the smoothest snow we could find on the mountain. Here’s Shelby,
and Camille reaping the benefits from a solid skinning and booting effort.
I enjoyed a short alternate chute about halfway down our main shot that had gone into the shade and provided a couple of really nice turns through a narrow, nicely pitched corridor back to the base of our original line.
When we started our ascent there were only a few cars in the parking lot. When we got back the place was packed with people from as far away as Seattle making the trip south to take in what was apparently one of the better spots to view Sunday’s solar eclipse.
Not really prepared for the solar happenings we were lucky to get kicked-down solar shades from a guy who had been at the last full solar eclipse in Turkey (March 29, 2006). People were pretty hardcore about the eclipse, and with their high excitement we all proceeded to join in on the vibe and gape at the unique natural phenomenon.
What a scene! Huge telescopes were a treat to check out,
especially the ones that projected the sun in a glow of red hydrogen, or this one that showed it off in electric green.
All the interesting toys used to view the eclipse were fun. Even playing with a cardboard cut-out was cool for a little while,
as were the many interesting conversations and interactions that were had until the peak of the eclipse when people really got fired up.
After taking a whole mess of shots trying to get at least one that helped tell the story, I was able to snap this photo that came out pretty good. Kinda spooky a la Lord of the Rings, but kinda sweet too when acknowledging the fleeting unison of the sun, moon and earth in the moment.
All in all a pretty unique day of backcountry skiing, going from a full-on great spring ski right into a circus of solar heads.
Looking ahead the NPS shared that they project a road opening at the very end of the month for Lassen Volcanic National Park (approximately 5/31/12). While we didn’t venture to the true east or south aspects, usually accessed from the park’s south entrance, I’ve been told by friends they’re skiing well. The classic north face is obviously holding well as seen in the above photos, and I can attest that the chute we skied was as smooth as one could hope for on the E-NE side of the mountain. However, I will say the lower portion of the ski to the north access parking area is melting out fast so you best be on it sooner than later to get the most out of this classic California spring ski while you can. There might not be a solar eclipse when you show up, but chances are there’ll still be a few thousand feet of prime corn to slay.