10 days, 9 volcanoes, and 50,000 vertical feet of perfect corn

It was mid-May and I was tits-deep in touring season. After tackling Mt. Shasta with some good company, Amar and I set our sights on other Nor-Cal and Oregon volcanoes to scoop up and slide upon.

Our next objective was Shastina, A sub peak of one of California’s few 14ers, where Amar and I climbed in solitude. As we submitted, we calmly reflected upon the day’s climb and looked down upon the towns of Weed and Shasta City, more than a mile directly below us. Then we descended via the Cascadian Gulch, a snow-covered corny finger bounded on each side by sharp volcanic rocks.


Dropping in with the Summit of Shastina in the background. (Photo by Amar Andalkar)

Lassen Volcanic National Park is cool (or rather, hot!) area filled with geologic attractions of all types (think a lesser-known version of Yellowstone). On the way down from Mt. Lassen’s peak, we opted to follow alongside the obsidian flow from its 1918 eruption. Below, I’m snowboarding away from the oddly-shaped weather station atop the summit.


Dropping in to find perfect corn (Photo by Amar Andalkar)

Day four was a great day because it was my birthday! Woot! Amar and I traveled to Crater Lake National Park to explore Mt. Hillman and the Watchtower, two of the ancient caldera’s high-points overlooking Crater Lake. From the top of Mt. Hillman, we gazed deeply into the vibrant blue waters of Crater Lake.


Claiming it on Mt Hillman (Photo by Amar Andalkar)

Next we ventured to Yamsey Peak! After Amar got his car stuck on the way in and we practiced strategic shoveling for Toyotas, we followed an abandon road up to the summit. Despite the xxxtreeme gnarl on the way up, we decided to take a more eventful route on the way down…which included fall-line turns, a wetslide, and me falling into a creek. Good times.

That night, we slept at the five-star accommodations offered by the Diamond Lake parking lot, with an aggressive windstorm lulling us to sleep. In the morning, we watched the sun rise over Mt. Bailey before driving toward Mt. Scott. After a quick three mile hike in, we had the pleasure of descending Mt. Scott via its East, South, and West faces, for what Amar so aptly termed, “a Mt. Scott Triple Shot.” Descent of the Western face yielded views of Crater Lake, while the Eastern side afforded us an intimate look at a raging wildfire down in the valley.


Our final run down the East side all the way back to the Car (Photo by Amar Andalkar)

Our final rendezvous was with two sisters out in the Three Sisters Wilderness, where we awoke in the morning to discover Jason Hummel and Christy Kinney as our neighbors. After a jovial breakfast with them, we headed out to the Pole Creek trailhead, from which we hiked toward Camp Lake, our base camp of choice sandwiched between the Middle and South Sisters. After 3 and half miles we dropped of our overnight gear and the lake and started climbing the southern ridge of Middle sister. On the summit we noticed that the SW face had a great fall line and was somewhat towards our camp so we rode down a few thousand feet before traversing back to camp.


Amar Climbing the Southern ridge of the Middle Sister

That night was the only time within the trip that we camped in the backcountry and before long we were in deep sleep resting for a long day ahead of us. Though the solitude wasn’t quite like the parking lots to which we were accustomed, Amar and I woke early to watch the sunrise over the peaks. After a quick breakfast, we began traversing towards our ascent route up the west ridge. Travel was easy as we cramponed up to the summit taking in view of the southern cascade landscape. To our surprise the Eastern face (proudy Glacier headwall) looked smooth, so we were able to ride all the way to our camp 4000 feet below us. We quickly packed all of our overnight gear in our backpacks and did the long traverse back to the Pole creek parking lot, which was now buzzing with activity.


Preparing to drop the Prouty Glacier Headwall. (Photo by Amar Andalkar)


Ripping down the lower portion of the headwall with our route in the background. (Photo by Amar Andalkar)

We had a long drive ahead of us as we planned on heading back home to Seattle but before doing that we slept in the Santium Pass parking lot. The next morning we drove nonstop arriving home around 11a.m. and I unpacked my gear and took a much needed nap. That afternoon I received a call from Amar who mentioned Rainiers climbing conditions were looking good. After a quick conversation we agreed that a one day push would be the way to go so once again I packed up my gear and was back on the road.

We arrived at paradise around 1:30 am and were hiking by 2:00 with skinning to nothing but the headlamps that illuminated our path. We quickly made it to Camp Muir in time to watch the sunrise over the cascades from our 10,000 foot vantage point. It was Memorial Day weekend and Muir was at maximum capacity to after a quick break we were climbing up the Ingram Glacier. We arrived on the summit around 11:00 and shared the space with around 20 others before making our decent down the Fuher Thumb a steep lined colouir on Rainier’s southern face. We rode around 8000 feet to the base of the Nisqually glacier and skinned back up to paradise as the afternoon crowds commented on our skis along the way.


Muir buzzing with Activity


Ben looking down into the Fuhrer Thumb

We had climbed 9 Volcanoes in 10 days merely hours before Amar was on a plane heading for the east coast it was one of many trips I would take throughout the season but easily one of my favorites.


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