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Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Mount Lassen Volcanic Area, California

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Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski

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  • Gearing up at the Lassen Volcanic National Park's Kohm-Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center.- Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
  • Before the Lassen Park Road/Highway 89 is opened to vehicles, the highway opens to bicycles; you'll likely have the Lassen Peak summit climb all to yourself. - Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
  • Biking up the Lassen Park Road to Lassen Peak (10,457').- Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
  • Lassen Peak (10,457').- Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
  • Ascending Lassen's lower slopes above the Summit Trail parking area.- Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
  • Ascending Lassen's east face.- Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
  • From right to left: Eagle Peak (9,222'), Pilot Pinnacle (8,886'), Mount Diller (9,087'), and Brokeoff Mountain (9,235').- Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
  • Skiers gaining Lassen's south ridgeline.- Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
  • The last quarter of the ascent joins the summer Summit Trail, which melts out quickly in low snow years.- Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
  • Brokeoff Mountain (9,235') as seen from near Lassen's summit.- Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
  • Lassen Peak's summit pleateau and summit block.- Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
  • Mount Shasta (14,179') as seen from Lassen's summit plateau.- Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
  • Looking down Lassen's east face.- Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
  • - Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
  • - Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
  • Lassen's east face.- Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
  • - Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
  • - Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
  • Looking back up the descent line.- Lassen Peak: Southeast Face Backcountry Ski
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Skiing off Lassen's summit. Easy climbing and access from the Summit Trail parking lot.
Cons: 
None.
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Region:
Mount Lassen Volcanic Area, CA
Max slope angle: 
30-45 degrees
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Total Distance: 
2.75 mi (4.43 km)
Trailhead Elevation: 
8,500.00 ft (2,590.80 m)
Vertical descent: 
1,950.00 ft (594.36 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Team

The southernmost volcano in the Cascade Range, Lassen Peak is the centerpiece of Lassen Volcanic National Park, located approximately halfway between Mount Shasta and Lake Tahoe. Lassen Peak draws climbers and skiers from mid-spring through early summer to its southern aspects, and access is user friendly and easy due to Lassen’s Summer Trail parking lot, just 2,000 feet below the summit.

The Lassen Park Road must be open to reach the Summer Trail lot, and this access varies from year to year depending on the snowpack. Most parties climbing or skiing Lassen coordinate their trip with this opening. Prior to opening the highway to motorized vehicles, the park service opens the road to cyclists. If you are interested in experiencing a unique and uncrowded Lassen ski experience, the 7-mile bike ride that gains 1,800 in elevation from the Kohm-Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center to the Summit Trail lot is a good way to do it, and you’ll almost certainly have the mountain to yourself. Note that this trip report references the Summit Trail parking area as the trailhead. 

Skiing Lassen Peak’s east face is relatively straightforward because much of the ascent parallels the Summer Trail. From the Summer Trail parking lot, head northeast and gain a small bench that is sparsely populated with trees. Contour around the mountain heading towards the east face, leaving the trees behind. Heading towards the east face keeps you on snow longer as the south ridge melts out earlier due to it's south-facing aspect and enables you to see your descent options once you get through the trees. Once you see the east face, switchback up back towards south ridge and the Summit Trail. Continue up this ridge and stay slightly right of the ridge crest to remain on snow for as far as possible. The southwest side of the ridge loses snow quickly in spring.

Continue up the ridge on snow as far as possible. Depending on the snow year and your timing, the upper section of the ridge may be completely dry. If this is the case, merge onto the Summer Trail and follow switchbacks up to Lassen’s summit platueau. On a clear day the views of Mount Shasta and Lassen’s subpeaks are phenomenal. To the west lie Eagle Peak, Mount Diller, and Brokeoff Mountain, the latter two of which once formed Mout Tehema, a stratovolcano that was carved away during the ice age.

Continue northeast toward Lassen’s summit block and either finish the short hike up to the true summit or choose your line on the east face. A large snowfield offers an open and slightly less steep option, while a chute east of the snowfield provides a steeper descent.

Upon descending, track your location relative to where you initially gained the south ridge and either climb back up for another lap or traverse back to the parking area for your car or bike.

Backcountry Safety

Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(3 within a 30 mile radius)

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