Shasta/Lassen Mid-Winter AssaultFebruary 15th, 2013 By Dave
Who: Zach, Mike and Dave
What: Winter roadtrip from Tahoe to Shasta and Lassen Volcanoes
When: February 2013
The Tahoe doldrums had set in and we were ready to hit the road. Zach rallied the troops, we jumped in the Subaru and off we went to the North, the zone where the Sierras end and the Cascades begin.
We B-lined it for the Bunny Flat trailhead, which is the highest you can drive on Shasta in the winter months, and found ourselves alone at about 1am. Bust out the tent, sleeping bags, water bottles in the bags (hot water in a bottle + bottle in bottom of sleeping bag = warmth), and we were off to sleep in sub 10-degree temps. At this point, the wind was not nuking but it was blowing steadily.
We woke with a plan to camp on Shasta and summit on Sunday, but from the wind clouds and blowing snow that we woke to, that plan quickly changed to a day assault on the mountain and summit goals were left for another trip. You can see the howling winds in the pics below and bottom right:
When we returned to the car that day and checked some remote wind meters, we saw crests of about 65 mph at 9,000 ft. Considering we made it to 11,000 ft, we were judging the winds consistently at 40-50 with gusts to 80-100 mph at times. We made it above Lake Helen, dug ourselves a little trench so we could get a little shelter before heading back down. The views and our time up there were beautiful and we were all bummed to have to leave so quickly. The picture below and left is the trench we dug that pretty much filled right back in within minutes of us digging it:
After a few beers in the parking lot and a hearty dinner in town, we headed south to the North entrance to Lassen National Park. Spent the night on the side of the packing lot (alone again) and temps in the 20s this time, so we were not as frigid all night. We awoke to more howling winds and therefore abandoned our summit bid again and instead headed for a nice tree lined ridge in the distance with hopes of some open volcanic terrain to break out the kites on and do some flying. After much bushwacking (we missed the summer trail) we crested on a nice set of semi-sheltered ridges with what turned out to be the best powder skiing of the trip.
All weekend long Mike and I carried our kites and harnesses around with us, adding about 10 pounds to our packs just for fun and of course, we finally found a decent place to kite where the winds weren’t nuking, and it was about a 10 minute skin from the car. We didn’t need to carry that stuff with us after all, but we got a good snowkiting session in right at the end of our trip on Manzanita Lake.