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Lassen Peak: A Backcountry Skier’s Paradise

At the end of February, I had the privilege of spending my second weekend in as many years exploring Lassen Volcanic National Park. Just outside Mineral, California, LVNP is home to one of the most beautiful mountains I’ve climbed to date: Lassen Peak. On this trip, however, we elected to spend the weekend exploring a new area, relishing in the company of incredible friends, and skiing new lines in the fresh, untracked snow.

Despite the fact that I was struggling to breathe through my nose and mouth throughout the trip, I enjoyed the skin up to where we camped. The path up to the climber’s trail follows the road and the climb is gradual and beautiful. I found myself gasping for air at times from the sheer beauty of the park- not because of my illness. Snowshoers and skiers alike follow this road up to Lake Helen to camp for the weekend or to simply see other areas. We, however, decided to camp just below it, in an area overlooking Lassen Peak that was protected on two sides by trees.

We built an amazing snow barrier to keep the wind off the third side of our tents and dug out an incredible kitchen area, complete with two benches and a platform for cooking. I love going places with our friends…

Once camp was set up, we went off adventuring. Andy and I skinned up the road for a while and found some really, really neat lines below a big cinder cone. We mobbed through some neat recesses, Andy cruised over some cool lips and down some steep stuff, and I worked on re-familiarizing myself with skis and the basics of turning, etc. After the first lap, I’d figured it out again pretty well, so we jetted back toward camp to meet up with our friends.

The boys dropped down one of the steepest lines we saw and boot packed up it a couple of times since skinning up the steepest sections would have been a pain.

After a few more runs, we went searching for new lines and, once again, the boys went off on a crazy tree-filled adventure while us ladies found some gentler, less death-defying things to ski down. The snow was crusty and gorgeous and we tore it up until we were exhausted and wanted dinner and margaritas… and then I went to sleep for 13 hours.

After a night of fighting to breathe through my oxygen-transporting orifices, I awoke feeling somewhat refreshed and significantly more chipper than I had the night before. That final morning, we messed around, finding small jumps for us ladies to go off of, new lines through the trees for the boys to adventure down and, in general, enjoyed our last few hours soaking up the natural world in peace.

Kelsey started learning how to Tele Ski during the trip!

Hopper showing off our BALLER camping spot.

And then it was time to pack up. We reluctantly packed our backpacks, filled in our snow kitchen and knocked down our snow barrier- LEAVE NO TRACE, PEOPLE!, and started back down the trail.

Great friends. Gorgeous place. Incredible life.

Portland, OR, USA

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©2020 BY CORIE L. TRAYLOR. CREATED AT SEA LEVEL.