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INVITE: Peakbagging at Crater Lake, March 20-24

Posted: March 3rd, 2017, 11:29 am
by Charley
Hi everyone,

I'm hoping to have a little ski peakbagging trip down at Crater Lake, sometime between the evenings of March 19 and March 20, and I'm looking for partners who are interested in going with.

Ski-mountaineering info: ... CraterLake
General climbing info: ... ark/151255

I climbed Applegate and Garfield with a friend last spring and had a lovely time.

Dutton Ridge is farther around the road (counter-clock-wise), and apparently offers an ascent/descent of difficulty comparable to Applegate and Garfield. While viewing it on Google Earth, I thought it looked at least as easy (maybe less steep at the top). I couldn’t find trip reports.

Two more, Watchman and Hillman Peak, are apparently more difficult: right in between the Rim Drive and the Crater’s inner walls, these peaks offer 800 vertical feet of skiing in a very short space. I’m ready to try that, though I won't be hucking hard. :)

One final destination, half the way around the Rim, is Llao Rock. This is supposedly an easier route as well, though it it quite far out for an out-and-back trip.
Trip reports: ... d3&theater ... -park.html

Avalanche thoughts:

The Rim Drive trip passes through several avalanche zones. For some of those zones, the Park Service has marked out very rough, steep by-pass trails. Leah and I took one, and then opted that, given the conditions (stable snow and weather) it wasn’t worth it to take the next one. One particular area, around the Watchman, has no official bypass trail. The Rangers at the Park didn’t suggest any alternative, but I’d be leery under that slope in a real storm-slab situation, and would probably be interested in bush-whacking our way down hill into the tree line to avoid it. Since the Rangers don’t seem that worried about it, I’m fine with playing that one by ear. When Leah and I came to that slope in stable conditions, we crossed one at a time quickly.

According to the rangers at the Park, the peaks (Applegate, Garfield, Llao and Dutton) are not subject to regular avalanche.

I measure a 10* slope for much of the approach to Gafield and Applegate, and a general 22* slope for the summit pyramids, though it’s possible that there’s a short 30* slope or two right on the faces of the peaks. I’ve also read that those summits often don’t have a lot of snow on them anyway (it apparently blows off). That would jibe with my recollection of the Crater Lake Rim trip Leah and I took- there was often bare faces facing south, with wind pillows and drifts on the northerly aspects of terrain features. Cornices form on the North slopes of the southern crater rim, showing that winds often come from the South at Crater Lake.

Dutton Cliffs look to be even more gentle, though there is a short stretch (50 vertical feet?) of 25*-30* slope right under the summit, right on the ridgeline. Again, the Rangers voiced no concerns about previous avalanches in that spot.

Llao Rock is the gentlest, with one approach never exceeding 15*. Given the great distance from trailhead to this destination, as well as its gentle slope, visiting Llao Rock on Nordic BC equipment makes the most sense, though it would be doable on AT gear.

Lastly, this is my skill level:
Avalanche Level 1 certified as of February 2013. A friend and I took the class with the stated intention of learning to at least recognize avalanche terrain and avoid it during the slab season. In the spring, we have a good record of avoiding wet-loose avalanches. I aim to make reasonably conservative decisions in the backcountry- the first being that none of these trips necessitate long periods in avalanche terrain. I have avalanche probe and transceiver, and have always taken a shovel on snow camping trips anyway. Those items are available for rent.

On Nordic BC I am relatively advanced. I’ve done lots of really awesome trips on my Rossignol BC 90’s, including getting in over my head and walking down slopes on my boots. No pride. I’m not Tele-turning but I can go just about anywhere if speed isn’t a priority.

Alpine Touring- intermediate. I’m working my way up through the Blue trails at Timberline. Magic Mile is the bee’s knees. Since I have so much backcountry experience through the Nordic touring, my main deficit in this arena is technical skills. Again, because I have no pride about walking down a slope, unless we’re talking about Big Mountains (Mt Hood, Mt Adams, etc.), I’m a go.

Thanks for reading and thanks for considering joining!

Re: INVITE: Peakbagging at Crater Lake, March 20-24

Posted: March 3rd, 2017, 11:35 am
by Charley
Here are some photos to whet your appetite!

Snow camping on the Rim:
Summit of Garfield Peak: