Northern California’s Mt. Lassen is the southernmost volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range. Frequently overshadowed by more prominent volcanoes such as Mt. Ranier and Mt. Shasta, Mt. Lassen is an absolute gem. What it lacks in height (10,463), it makes up for in aesthetic with a beautiful approach, inspiring summit, and a plethora of tasty lines.
The popular south side approach to Mt. Lassen allows skiers to park high on the mountain, hike 2,000 feet up and then ski 4,000 vertical feet down the north side. Although this option is convenient, it lacks in overall experience and feel compared to an approach from the northeast. The best way to ski Lassen is to start from the Devastated Area before the road from the south has opened for the summer. If you are lucky/savvy enough to time your venture when the snow line starts at the parking lot, you can simply put on your skis and point them right at the peak. The result is escalator friendly climb that gradually steepens the closer you get to your goal. Eventually you sling your skis and boot up the last 1,000 or so vert to the top.
The summit of Mt Lassen is classic in many ways, starting with the fact that you can ski from the highest point onto the steepest terrain on on the peak. A well defined summit pyramid gives way to broad, sweeping shoulders that extend to the north and east. Skiers can hit any aspect from east to north allowing them to ski whatever’s ripe for corn. Ambitious types may even consider an alpine start and do multiple laps on the top portion. The total vertical drop from the summit through sweeping moraines back to the Devastated Area is 4,300.
Though it’s one of the little guys in the Cascade Range, Mt. Lassen is a worthwhile ski objective. The northeast face in particular is a great tour and ski from start to finish. It’s also the perfect forerunner for an assault on mighty Mt. Shasta to the north. If you have two or three days you can attempt a one two punch out of these two classic California volcanoes.