Sunday, October 27, 2013

Llao Rock - Crater Lake National Park

Today was one of those rare but amazing days when I had NO work and NO plans.  This morning I grabbed my skis and headed for Crater Lake National Park, hoping to get some turns.  I knew areas of the park had received substantial snow in late September, but I wasn't sure how much or whether any had stuck around.  Nevertheless, I would make the drive and scope it out... and worst case I would 'settle' for a hike. 

After about an hour's drive from my house, I passed the south entrance of the park at 10:30 am. For the moment it was a beautiful, sunny day. However, I would soon be reminded of how quickly the weather can change in the PNW.

Once in the park, I followed west Rim Drive clockwise to the Watchman, which had snow but was far too rocky to ski. The next mountain, Hillman peak, looked skiable, but didn't offer much vertical so I kept driving to scope out other possibilities.  I continued north onto North Entrance Road, and as I crossed the Pumice Desert,  I noticed a peak in my rear view mirror that looked skiable: the backside of Llao Rock.

So I parked at the Pacific Crest parking area on North Entrance Road, and checked my GPS to see how I would access the peak. I threw my skis on my pack and got moving on the PCT.

Hitting the trail - beautiful day (for now)

After twenty minutes of hiking I noticed the weather moving in from the north

And twenty minutes later it was steadily snowing

At 7,600 feet I was just above tree line. With winds blasting my face with snow and ice, I decided this was a good point to head down

Now for the fun part

While the snow was thin-- perhaps 6-8 inches in many areas-- it was bombroof.   I enjoyed a few gs turns through these trees

I got about 600 vertical feet of turns before having to switch back to hiking. The snow pickup up on my way down.

I snapped this photo of Hillman Peak  from Rim Drive on my way out (I shall ski this another day)

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