Ski Mountaineering

Crater Lake National Park, OR

April 9-12, 2021

Reiner Stenzel

My daughter Isabel organized a spring trip to Crater Lake. We had seven members, one on skis and six on snowshoes. Since snowcamping was not the idea we stayed in cabins just outside the National Park which had no accomodations. Due to the pandemic rules we had to keep social distance and wore face masks, at least most of the time. Due to organ transplants and CF we had to be extra cautious and ate joined dinners outside, wearing down jackets since it was soon below freezing temps. Since the distance is about 400 mi we got tired from 7 hours driving.

On Sat morning, Apr 10, we headed into the National Park. The plan was to drive to the Rim Village and continue on the West Rim Drive to The Watchman. Well, the road was closed although a mile was cleared of snow. The clouds were blown away by the wind and we had a spectacular view of the Lake at Discovery Point. Then we entered the snow zone using our toys. Snowshoes and skinned skis were equally good to climb between trees and open slopes. We had lunch in sunshine but the wind was cool. We were close to The Watchman (8,013') just next to Wizard Island. We discussed climbing the Watchman summit but it got a bit late. So we descended. It was a treat for me turning teli turns on open pslopes with corn-like snow. We got separated but regrouped at Discovery Point. We returned to Union Creek Resort where there was no snow. We dined as the sun set and it got cool. Next day's trip was the East Rim Drive.

Sun, Apr 11, we started by 9 am and drove to the Park Headquarters where the snow covered the East Rim Drive where we started. The snow got crumbled from postholing, snow shoes and ski tracks, all frozen in the morning. Our goal was a 5 mi hike to Sun Notch from where one has a good view over Crater. The map shows two areas of avalanche hazard, thus one had to be careful. When we were there wet snow balls had rolled down from Applegate but it was old and nothing new has slid down. So we walked fast with spacing and the problem was solved in 15 min. The destination to Sun Notch had no trail, just foot steps here and there. Finally we reached the crater rim around midday, just right for lunch. The view was rewarding, the sun was out, no wind blew, we took lots of pictures. Due to the north one could clearly see Mt Thielsen where the PCT passes closely. One could also see a second island in Crater Lake, named Phantom Ship. I could only captured part of the island since cornices did not allow advancing too close to the rim. On the way back it was much safer, namely the pleasure of telemarking on corn snow down.

In the afternoon we returned back. The group took a bypass trail to avoid the avy zone, but I skied down the road since there was no sign of avy activities. Later we regrouped and returned on the crusted snow of the East Rim Drive.

On Mon, Apr 12, we heard about the Famous Natural Bridge over the Rogue River, just a mile nearby. This was the opportunity to see it and it was worth while. The river travels under ground through a lava tube and reappears. Since there was a lot of snow melt water some water also flowed over ground and nobody is allowed to try this dangerous gamble. It is a spectacular stream of water shooting out of the ground.

The Rogue River adventure ended our trip. Everyone was content, tired, and enjoyed our fine group of friends. Thanks for Devin to make the long drive from Seattle. Thanks to Isa for organizing another great adventure.

Back to Trip Reports
Back to SMS Home Page