Lassen Peak From Bumpass Hell In Lassen Volcanic National Park

  • Updated: July 03, 2017
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

July 3rd, 2017
Lassen Peak (10,457')
6.5 miles, 2500'

This was the fourth day of a big 4th of July road trip where we visited Trinity Alps, Lassen Volcanic National Park, and the furthest north of the Sierra Peak Section list.  Writeups of the other days can be found here.

After yesterdays climb of Brokeoff Mountain the plan for today was to get an early start and climb Lassen Peak and then relocating to get set up for Adams Peak the following day.

We spent the night just outside the park camping along forest road 29N22.  Every spot we could find to pull out closer to 89 was occupied but eventually we found a flat-ish spot that wasn't too rocky and sacked out.  We woke up early and ate breakfast amid an only slightly annoying amount of mosquitos before heading for the park.

The park was pretty empty as we were driving in at 7:30 am.

Driving past the Sulphur Works we caught sight of this bubbling pit and decided to play tourist.  (We'd driven by it twice the day before but it was likely hidden behind an ungodly mass of people.)

As I mentioned yesterday the original plan was to hike Lassen Peak from down here since the road had been closed.  This would have been a long few miles of walking a road so we were quite happy to be able to drive up to Bumpass Hell.  (An alternate would have been to drive around to the north end of the park and climb from the pleasantly named Devastated Area.

Back at the Bumpass parking area there were far less people most of which seemed to be there to do Lassen or ski.  We started out wearing our light hikers and carrying snow boots and ice axes.  We had crampons with us but looking up at the peak and considering the warm weather we decided to leave them in the car.

There was actually a surprising amount of snow once we went around the corner from the closure.  Note Blondie for scale.

It looked like the peak would be doable without the need for snow boots.  Then the plowed road ended rather abruptly and we found all that snow the ranger was talking about.

So we had a short section of the road still under thick snow.

As near as we could tell this was the parking lot and the start of the summer trail.  The park asks rather strenuously that you not do any off trail travel unless it's covered in snow so our plan was to generally follow the trail.

The snow up to the initial bench was steep enough I didn't want to do it in approach shoes but it was soft and easy to kick steps.  We could see snatches of the trail here and there but it was apparent we'd be climbing at least a few hundred feet of snow to get up to where it cleared off.

We traversed to the east to see if the trail was clear but that side had even more snow.  If we had come up from Terrace Lake we'd have been able to be on snow the entire time.  And a few people were taking advantage of that to ski down while we were on our way up.

We followed a combination of snow and the trail until about 9,300'.

From here the trail was mostly clear and we were able to make good time stopping only occasionally to enjoy the view and cool breeze.

The very top did have some snow and I can now mark glissading down into the crater of an active volcano off my bucket list.  Instead of heading straight for the high point (to the right of the picture above) I ran off to explore the crater.

Lassen Peak crater panorama
It was slightly disappointing compared to my childhood image of a giant pit with roiling lava at the bottom but still neat.

Lassen Peak high point
The high point had a use trail leading up it though we only saw one other group go up it.  Most folks ran up to the interpretive signs and turned back there.

We didn't find a register but there was a small circular cement platform and a few beat up old benchmarks.

And of course cool rocks for summit poses.  Which sadly were captured with Jen's iPhone 6 hence the sullen colors and sky artifacts.

The area above the snow is where most people were stopping.  The snow led down to the southeast face and was solid coverage further down than we wanted to go.  We debated glissading off that side but decided it was too far out of our way and just a tad bit too steep for comfort.

We saw some people ski down while we were there and the next day some friends did that route with crampons.

We took the trail back down to 9,300' occasionally using the snow as a shortcut.  And then we crossed out to the middle of the south face and the fun part began.

From there we had a spectacular 800 ft glissade.  (It was steeper than it looks in the picture)

Walking on the snow covered road was a slog and I was happy to see the pavement again.  We made quite the impression walking by all the folks at the frozen lake with our ice axes and ended up chatting with a small crowd and explaining what we used them for and that the track visible in the snow on Lassen was from us sliding down..

Back at the parking lot we were changing and repacking the car when I noticed someone who looked a lot like a friend of mine.  Which I figured couldn't be the case because they'd just posted to Facebook about being in Yosemite.

Turn out it was Valerie.  Small world!

We left quickly determined to get back to Chester and actually get a shower today.

(Also after another rather warm day a cold beer was sounding ok...)

Chester was...interesting.  In addition to the PCT hikers restocking and doing laundry there were an awful lot of folks wandering around obnoxiously drunk.  Granted it was the day before 4th of July but jeeze.

We waited for about 20 minutes for our turn in the shower.  $3 in quarters got you 4 minutes under water that kept shooting randomly between too hot and far too cold but it was very much appreciated.  There were also signs warning not to change in the shower but to go next door to the laundromat.  Sadly I wasn't near as drunk as the people outside so I decided to be a rebel and dress quickly inside.

The town had cell reception according to my phone but I was lucky to get one webpage to load a minute.

Since we were right next door we stopped at The Locker room again for another deliciously cold beer and a hamburger.

Feeling better than we had in days we drove from Chester to Frenchman Lake where we hoped to make it close to Adams Peak and camp.  It was dark by the time we got out there and our initial attempts to approach from Frenchman Lake Road ended in us turning back after less than half a mile of dirt because it became impassable for Jen's little Toyota Scion.  We ended up grabbing a paid site at Chilcoot Campground planning to try again in daylight.

Next up, a dirt road adventure, the furthest north of the SPS peak list, and a long long damn drive home.

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