Summit Mt. Lassen via the Northeast Face

Rate this Adventure 8 miles 4000 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Zachary Hoffman

A beautiful and challenging climb up one of the most iconic peaks in california.

This route is perfect for those with some mountaineering skill looking to challenge themselves on either a long day climb (10-12 hours) of one of California’s most iconic peaks. 

1: The approach (1500 feet of elevation gain)

For the best chance of summiting, start very early, around 2-4 am. Most approaches for this hike start at the parking lot near the Devastated Area Interpretive Trail, though with some modification, the Hat Creek trailhead could provide a good starting point if the aforementioned parking lot is full. From either trailhead, roughly follow the creek just to the southwest of the devastated area parking lot, which is runoff from Lassen. It is very helpful in this section to have a gps and/or map and compass (and navigational skills), as the forest is very thick for the first 1/2 a mile to a mile.

2: The climb (2500 feet of elevation gain)

Now comes the fun part: the actual climbing. Once you reach the base of the mountain at about 8,000 feet, you will be presented with a wide variety of options for the route going forward. The easiest and safest routes are generally to the sides of the face, where the climb is a bit more gradual and rockfall risk is comparatively lower (though we did have some decent sized rocks whiz by). The middle routes, by comparison, result in more time spent on the steeper angles of the face and under the rocky peak of Mount Lassen (and in the case of the center-right gully, under a very prominent and very rocky pinnacle), which can release a significant amount of loose rock. The routes to climbers right will result in reaching the northern ridge of Lassen and either climbing up the north ridge or crossing over to the west/northwest face. From there, reaching the summit is strait forward. The routes on climbers left will result in reaching the top of the east ridge at around 10,000 feet. From there, follow the ridge to about 10,000 feet, just below the summit pinnacle. Then, skirt around to the south of the summit pinnacle, either continuing all the way around to the southwest ridge and the main trail, or - in early season before it has melted - following a gentler patch of snow and rock that is directly south of the summit all the way to the top.

3. The descent!

For us skiers and snowboarders, this is the *really* fun part! The northeast face is some of the best bowl skiing in northern california, with over 2,000 feet of uninterrupted downhill even partway into June. Really adventurous (read: possibly crazy) souls can descend directly from the summit starting with a rappel leading to a precipitously steep snow slope (60+ degrees) that much better skiers than I will find exciting. The less adventurous of us will head back down from the summit and choose from one of the many exciting routes down, all of which offer at least half a mile of 40+ degree slopes (comparable to a double-black diamond at most resorts). Of these routes, the furthest from the center are generally the most gradual and have fewer obstacles. Non-skiers/snowboarders should be aware that the steepness of the slopes on the upper part of the face may eliminate the possibility of a glissade until you’ve down climbed 500-1000 feet.

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