If you’re looking for some minimal effort, maximum return summer skiing, head up to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Booting up about 2k vertical feet on the south side, with over 4k vertical feet of skiing down the north, is something every backcountry skier should tap into at some point. The road through the Park is open, and while the southeast face is fun to ski when it’s closed, this is when the true classic status of this backcountry ski locale truly shines.
Lassen Peak is just about as good as access gets in California. Whether you’re coming from the Bay Area, or up from Tahoe, it’s just a few hours drive to the National Park, and even though it’s July, there’s still numerous ramps, bowls, and worthy ski objectives littered throughout the high elevations.
We had some interesting mist and clouds accompanying us on our ascent. Check out the gorgeous face of Mt. Diller, begging for a few sets of tracks.
It should be noted that the Park Service is currently doing restoration on the summit trail. When you get to the closure en route, just boot up snow to the climbers right, up the southeast face for a while to respect the ongoing work and still access the summit.
My buddy Andrew and I headed up scenic Route 89 North last Friday to give the Northeast side a check. Here’s Andrew Dropping in on the Northeast side,
laying into the steeper pitch of the run,
and finding a smooth panel while the mist momentarily engulfed us.
While the Northeast Face is one of the better corn skis in the lower 48 when you catch it prime, it is July, and summer ski conditions are in full effect. Nonetheless, Andrew and I were treated to well over 3k feet of relatively smooth, soft turns before we had to walk several minutes out the Devastated Area to the road.
The whole 4k+ foot descent doesn’t go right now, but the few minutes of walking out, with the dramatic scenery, and quality skiing for so late in the summer is more than worth the effort. The sun cups are definitely showing, but there’s still a great deal of smooth snow to shred up there. Even better, most of the enticing terrain in Lassen Park has tons of ski tracks right now. People have for surely been earning their turns up there, on Mt. Diller, Lassen Peak, and on the plethora of surrounding terrain that’s skiable.
It may not be 5 Star Grade-A corn, but it’s almost August, and if you’re feeling like getting a nice long run in for minimal effort, Lassen is about as good of a call as you can make right now.
(It’s even better to want to, and be able to use powder skis in the middle of summer, just because they’re that fun to ski-nice work Keith!)