LASSEN SKI AND SNOW CAMP March 15-16, 1980

With my scheduled ski and snow camping trip to this beautiful National Park, I had only one taker. It seemed that the gorgeous weather and fantastic op for wild, winter exploration repelled many or most of the local chapter tourers. We carpooled to the Southwest entrance for Lassen National Park, and began our ski backpack trip northeast up the snowbound Highway 89. I led the way to the Diamond Cutoff, and it required some careful skiing to avoid the geologic hot spots that melted the snow. Soon, we were above the hazards, and skiing back on the snow-covered highway to our destination, Lake Helen.

With a lovely scene and another cold night, we had our snowcamp, and then didn't say much to each other since we had been complete strangers, bound together only by the Club trip op that I led.

A good morning awaited us. I led up to the top of nearby Ski Heil Peak (8,880'+), a nearby hill that gave us spectacular vistas. In winter, Lassen Peak itself usually required crampons and ice ax, at least for the times that I have tried it, and my companion wasn't so game for that. He wasn't a very good skier, so I had to wait. I did my telemark skiing, and then we went back to camp to pack up and ski out. There were more nice sights as we took the hill down, and I may have had to ski the cutoff solo, as it is a gentler ski slog down the closed highway around Diamond Peak.

Back to the lower road, where tourists on snowshoes are guided by rangers, we skied back to the parking lot, and then drove back home. I may have advised of few or no slides visible, so they lowered the avalanche hazard rating. Late winter skiing is generally more stable, and they say that the Cutoff is a highly hazardous avy area. I had no problem skiing down steep sections, so it must have been safe, then.

The incredible winter ski ops are now basically ignored by the Club chapter, although they did have a more few ski trips here. None of them had the sights that we gained, or as good powder snow. After the 1986 ban on my section, the chapter went to snowshoe trips, and what was left of the skiers soon dissipated to nothing. It was the end of an era of backcountry enjoyment, and now, they do little or nothing, as far as the best winter sport, by me!