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Valentine’s Day Weekend: Lassen Peak

This was the weekend of mile-reducing short cuts, snow kitchens, early rising, sunburns, and laughing fits. This weekend we drove 8 hours south to Lassen Volcanic National Park and we had an adventure in the SNOW.

We left Portland at 4am in an attempt to hit the park’s south entrance around noon. Our two fabulously hilarious and fantastic friends arrived shortly after us. We loaded our packs into our backs and started up the road (which was packed with SNOW!). Also… It was 70 degrees and sunny. So, I put on my spf 70.

We skied/hiked/snowshoed in just under 6 miles (we cut off over a mile of terrain by darting up hills) and pitched our tents at the Lassen Peak Trailhead as the sun was setting, and ate delicious veggie curry out of the jet boil. Hopper and Kelsey dug a beautiful kitchen in the snow (complete with a bench and counter top). Andy was the sweetest and boiled water for me to put into my metal water bottle (hot water heater, yo!) and we went to sleep around 8pm in the utterly quiet shadow of the mountain.

We woke up at 4am to push for the summit- which we were told would be a 2.5 mile push with about 2,000 feet of gain. Crampons were strapped on immediately and we steadily climbed in the darkness. I had forgotten to change the batteries in my headlamp so we got to stop and do that in the middle of a slope. I also was panicked that I was getting frostbite (because I’m a crazy person that early in the morning) so Andy got to coax some sanity back into me as we climbed. The sun started to rise just as we hit the push for the false summit. The sky was redder than I’ve ever seen it and I was nearly in tears from sheer awe as we finished climbing.

Mostly buried trail markers and someone’s skin tracks helped guide us up the path of least resistance but as we hit the summit, the gps read just over 1.25 miles and 2,000 feet of gain. Good thing we’re fit. We stood on top if the summit after just over 2 hours of climbing. The shadow from Lassen stood side by side with the silhouette of Mt Shasta in the distance.

Shortly after we summitted, the wind started up with a fierceness. We found a mildly protected spot to eat ‘second breakfast’ - we are hobbits, you know- and relished in our 7th summit in 7 attempts in 7 months. 777. After a while the wind gained in ferocity and we made the choice to head down- Andy on skis, me carefully working my way down on foot. I attempted to nab video of Andy getting in some turns but the early morning snow prevented the powder that lurked under the surface of icy coating from emerging and the wind blew shards of ice into my face whenever I stopped to take video.

We booked it into the trees, stood atop the final pitch above our camp and waved our arms in celebration at our friends, who were making a beautiful pot of coffee up. The sun had barely risen and we had accomplished our goal. Boom.

The remainder of the morning was spent snowshoeing around and checking out the animal tracks that meandered in and out of our camp. Andy did some skiing, Kelsey taught me how to Cross Country ski, and all four of us enjoyed the sunshine and fabulous snow until it was time to head out. The long hike out was alleviated by animated conversation, swearing and irritation at the cross country skis, and Andy and I attempting to 'tandem ski’ - this actually WORKED.

Overall, this mountain was gorgeous, the company was grand, and I hope to turn Lassen Peak on Presidents’s Day weekend into a tradition for the four of us :)

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