Lassen Peak

August 22, 2008

Friday was our day to climb Lassen Peak. The climb is only two Pisgahs (2000 feet), but it is high… starting at 8450 feet with the summit at 10,457 feet (taller than South Sister). The trail is 2.5 miles to the top, so it is steeper. . . and rougher than Pisgah. From the parking lot, it LOOKS like more than Pisgah squared. Lassen Peak IS a volcano. . . a new volcano, formed about 11,000 years ago. The last eruptions were in May of 1915. They were the largest volcanic eruptions in the 48 States in recorded history… until Mount St. Helens. So all this lava is new. . . and rough. . . There was almost no snow on the mountain compared to my scouting trip two years, two weeks and two days before.

After just a few steps the thin air was quite apparent… despite our acclimation day. The pace was strong and steady with frequent stops to admire views, read informational plaques, take pictures and observe flora and fauna. Note that these pauses are part of the journey… not rest stops. The rugged mountain hemlocks accompanied us to 9400 feet and the white bark pines for another 500 feet. How do they live here? Flowers, squirrels, grass hoppers and a huge butterfly hatch were with us to the summit crater, along with several birds (chickadees, ravens, Clarke’s nutcrackers and a white bellied raptor).

It took about two hours to reach the crater and another 15 minutes to scramble up the 100 foot summit pinnacle on talus and scree. This black dacite is the youngest rock in California. Our 360º summit views were hazy from the recent fires, but we could see the Trinity Alps, towering Mount Shasta and its companion, Black Butte. After a leisurely lunch on top, the descent took about 1.5 hours… so we were down just after 1:00 PM. Congratulations to all fourteen successful ascenders! In all, Lassen Peak is a FUN and relatively easy climb for a 10,000 foot Cascade volcano.

Climbers were: Mari Baldwin, Jim Duncan, Gisele Garrity, Tom Gould, Mary Holbert, Richard Hughes, Janet Jacobsen, John Jacobsen, Lana Lindstrom, Charlene Pierce, Jim Pierce (leader), Barb Revere and Marian West; and nonmember Fran Richt.

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