I happened upon the Convict Lake area on my birthday backpacking trip up to Mt. Baldwin in 2016. The area is an amazing Eastern Sierra setting with two notable peaks (Morrison and Laurel) within a mile of the parking lot and an amazing remote basin several miles back. In this trip we were to follow the East Slope Variation route to ascend the chute between Mini Morrison and Mt. Morrison, ski down the chute, camp and then the next day ski out via the East Slope route. (map)
Last weekend with snow pouring on the Sierra all week EVERYONE was going out skiing, but I wasn’t going to get stuck in Tahoe traffic or waiting in a lift line. No, ten extra feet of snow at Lassen Volcanic National Park meant we were going out for three day backcountry ski adventure where we would sleep in snow caves and ski down untouched powder in low avalanche conditions.
Less than 24 hours earlier I woke up in a freezing desert outside Red Rock Canyon where I spent Christmas rock climbing. I now found myself in a snowy parking lot stuffing climbing ropes and ice tools into an already full backpack. I would be celebrating this New Year’s Eve by winter camping in a Coldstream Canyon at the base of frozen waterfalls for ice climbing. Welcome to Brice-style holidays.
I had been training all year for a difficult climb up Sargent’s Ridge when the trip fell through a couple weekends back so when I had an opportunity at another ridge route I jumped at it. In all the trip was a bit of an adventure with encountering a lighting storm while on the mountain, sustained wind for the whole climb, going solo for part of it and not being able to see when my glasses iced over on a steep section. I’m calling this write up the Casaval Traverse since I deviated off Casaval Ridge around 12,500 ft and topped out at the West Face instead of doing the Catwalk.
Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the snowiest places in California and also one of the least visited national parks despite its rich geology and beauty. Around mid-April it was one of few lower elevation peaks with enough snow for a full snow mountaineering accent. The other peaks we had considered near Convict Lake (Laurel and Morrison) now nearly bare.
“We think we took a wrong turn a quarter of a mile back.”
Guest post by Matthew Adjemian
On February 5, 2016 I went up to Mt. Shasta City with my friend Michele to attend a free avalanche training from the Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center. Once we saw that low avalanche danger, clear skies and light wind was predicted for the whole weekend we decided to do a summit attempt Sunday morning up the Green Butte route (map 1, map 2, map 3). Spending Saturday night on the mountain somewhere around Green Butte.
On Saturday, May 9th, 2015 at 11am all six members of my group summited Mt. Shasta at 14,179ft via the West Face. The altitude sickness most of us experienced over the last few hundred feet made it an incredible mental hurtle. All of us had a base of hiking, backpacking and rock climbing experience, but this was our first mountaineering trip. Below you can find our planning materials and trip report to assist you on your climb.
In November 2014 I decided to spend a week alone in the backcountry to get a taste of the solo backpacking life. Some people love the true solitude, some people hate it. So before I thought anymore about the John Muir Trail I wanted to get a taste. As a plus, the trip was also the longest backpacking trip I’ve done and my first time winter backpacking. It ended up being one of the more difficult physical things I’ve accomplished.
To document the solo experience I journaled daily and I’m hoping that journal can help share the experience with you.