Made it up to Mt. Lassen in Northern CA last weekend for some late-spring snowboarding. The road through the park had opened relatively late this year, but the snow was still quite nice, as far as June snow goes.
Our crew was 7 deep, so 2 cars got us up from Reno Saturday night in time for a couple restless hours of sleep in the campground near the park entrance.
Memories of Mt. Whitney still strong in my frontal lobe, I dragged the group out of bed quite early Sunday morning with hopes of avoiding our inevitable midday thunderstorms and other meteorological malfeasances.
I'll spare the turn-by-turn narration, as it's a pretty straightforward run. Long story short, though: When the road opens, it's easy to run a shuttle that allows us to hike 2000 vertical feet and ride 4000' vertical feet. The hike is short, about 2 miles, and easy as far as these things go.
As soon as the sun warmed the earth in the morning, moisture rushed up to form volatile-looking clouds, so it was certain that rain would be a factor at some point during the day; we were officially racing (OK, not racing, but aware of) the clock.
The ride down the northeast face is great; it's quite steep at the top, maintains healthy steepness most of the way down, and really only gets flat near the very bottom. There's good terrain if you know where to look, but the spring sun melts the snow back from the edge of all the rocks, so there's no real cliff fun to be had.
I dropped in first to set up for some photos, and we all leapfrogged each other down the mountain, waiting at safe spots, as spring snow will still slide and cause Bad Days for those caught in it.
The later that spring wears on, the more the bottom of the run melts out, necessitating a moderate walk across mostly flat ground back to the car at the bottom. It's an easy walk out, though, and a small price to pay for the turns!
Photos shall tell the rest of the story. Enjoy.
Charlie preparing for the ride
Boards ready to go
Cayla above Lake Helen
The group resting on the hike (photo credit: Norm)
View of tasty goals for next winter
Our first look at nearly 4000 vertical feet of soft spring snow
The assembled gallery awaits Norm's first turn
Norm picks the board up
Christian (photo credit: Norm)
Charlie (photo credit: Norm)
Cayla (photo credit: Norm)
Mallory (the camera catches everything, kiddo!)
Mallory (photo credit: Norm)
Most of the group at a stopping point and quite stoked
Norm artfully roosting Zeb
Charlie doing his best Sonic the Hedgehog impersonation
Charlie navigates the suncups (photo credit: Norm)
The group near the bottom (photo credit: Norm)
Cayla at the end of the road
Mt. Lassen from the end of the snow
Landscaping by Avalanche and Co. (tm)
Bunch of hooligans and up-to-no-good-niks
Norm putting zee leezard to sleep
Zee leezard awakes
Crashed back at the EuroVan
Mud at Sulphur Works
Chalky creek at Sulphur Works
Sure enough, the rainclouds that had been threatening since the first minutes of our hike let loose shortly after we got back to the van, entirely quashing my hopes of doing some short side-hikes for the highly accessible and eminently entertaining terrain near the summit parking lot. Oh well.
So that's it. Back in Reno less than 24 hours after we left, with solid turns under our belt and happy memories all around. It's certainly not extreme terrain, but there's a reason that Lassen is on the annual checklist for many skiers and boarders, and that's the near-guarantee of a great day.
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