Saturday, July 11, 2009

Skiing Mt. Scott at Crater Lake

My friend Aaron Hartz has been through a pretty rough couple months getting the shaft from the school
of Oceanography at OSU and also splitting up with his fiance, so Chris Holm and I decided it needed to be a guys weekend with Hartz doing something exciting in the outdoors... with skis of course.
We headed out early on Saturday morning towards Crater Lake with all of our
backcountry ski gear including crampons, skins, ice axes, etc... When we got there... well, we didn’t see any snow.. anywhere really. There were a few patches on some slopes but nothing more than about 200’ in length. We laughed about bringing all of our gear with us. We stopped at a few
viewpoints around the lake including Vidae Falls which we climbed up to check out. As we drove around the lake we got a few glimpses of Mt. Scott and it certainly didn’t look like we were going to ski it. Our plan had been to check out the lake and do a few short hikes
before tackling the “difficult” Mt. Scott with an AT ski ascent with skins... Well, when we arrived at the parking lot at 2pm we decided to just go for it then because it looked very short, much shorter than we thought it was. After a few beers and looking up at a very thin sheet of snow going from the base to about halfway up the mountain we decided, what the hell, lets ski it. As we were packing our skis onto our packs we got a lot of funny looks from all the people passing by us with sneakers and mountain bikes asking us where the hell we planned to ski. A van of frat-boy-looking guys laughed at us when we asked them to take a picture of the three of us.
We simply put on some sneakers, packed our skis and ski boots up in our packs, grabbed some water, a beer for the
summit and headed up the ~800 foot ascent which only took us about an hour and a half. Half way up we stopped to check out where we had to leave the trail to meet up with the snow slope. We hung out at the top of the mountain for a
while taking pictures, drinking a beer and relaxing.
When we actually got down to the slope we were to ski we realized that it actually had been worth it haul our skis up the mountain as the snow looked nice and soft and it appeared actually longer than it had looked from below. We took some turns down the first snow slope about 200’ then had to take our skis off and traverse across the face of the mountain for about a quarter mile to our next slope which I climbed up to get to the highest point of snow for the descent. This slope went down into a small bowl in the
face of the mountain which
I tried to ski up as far as I could to “high-mark” it, jumping over a small rock in the process. Chris followed and Hartz did the same. We then cruised down the remaining snow to the base of the mountain. It turned out to be some really fun skiing, although short-lived.
We then took a short drive to the Cloudcap viewpoint over Red Cloud cliff. From the
parking area the lake looked beautiful but I wanted a closer look so jumped the rail and walked down the cliff edge. Boy was it worth it! The cliffs I stood atop were at least 1,200’ vertical straight down to the water and the rock composing them definitely looked liked the lining of a massive lava chamber. We all took some pics then headed down
the road towards Diamond Lake where Hartz showed us a great camping site, although we got attacked by mosquitos all night despite the fire we built. We decided the next morning to skip Thielsen and just head back to Corvallis which was good because it poured rain all day and I certainly wasn’t going to free climb the 5.6 route at the top in a lightning storm. It was really great to spend another weekend in the mountains with the three amigos. Pictures below show our route.

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