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| |-+  April 2005 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  April 30, 2005, Crater Lake Circuit
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Author Topic: April 30, 2005, Crater Lake Circuit  (Read 2390 times)

Posts: 9

April 30, 2005, Crater Lake Circuit
« on: 05/01/05, 10:46 AM »

I thought I would post a TR as a number of users here gave helpful replies when I was seeking info on this trip.

For reference, here are two pictures of Crater Lake from Amar's web site:


In case your eyes tend to glaze over after the first paragraph of a TR, here is all you need to know:

This is an amazing tour and it is in prime condition RIGHT NOW - especially for fast day trips.  So if you have been wondering whether this is the year, go for it.


Here is a map for reference:

The circuit took me 9 hours on waxless XC skis.  What a beautiful day - perfect weather.  I set off alone (partner bailed at last minute) from Rim Village at 7 AM and went clockwise.  Plowing has gotten to Discovery Point.  Even though it's a bad snow year (it's all relative I guess), there are still some big walls on the road sides.  I could stay in little meadows for this first part.  A few times there was no option other than climbing down onto the road and walking.  This wasn't an issue for long.

After I passed the plowing crew, I started to get into the day.  The snow was BARELY supportable - if I had eaten one more burrito the night before, I would have been breaking through.  After the turn around the Watchman, I pointed them and cruised all the way down to the North Junction.  That was a thrill!  I crossed the big open meadow (see white expanse in upper right corner of aerial picture referenced above - looks like a lava flow) with Thielsen looming above like a shark tooth.  Amazing.  I was trying to balance as gently as I could, and a few times one ski would break through, but mostly I stayed on top.

I soon realized I had started much too late to hope to complete the entire loop in speedy fashion, and by about 9:30 the snow was soft.  I switched into plow horse mode and just cruised along - no opportunity to skate or glide.  There were a few spots along the North Rim with open road where I had to take my skis off and walk for small distances.

I made it to Mt. Scott and the Cloudcap Overlook junction in 5 hours.  Little did I know it was going to be another 4 hours coming down.  I thought I was closer to the barn than that.  Big pieces of the remaining loop are downhill, but because it was now late in the day, I was trudging along.  I had a sketchy crossing below the Dutton Cliffs, where there is major slide and rockfall hazard.  It was 1 PM so I had to make a wish and go fast.  A huge load of rock had come down recently.  I did not want to be discovered by the summer cleanup crew underneath one of those.  Turns out there is a way to bypass this danger by going down the road to Lost Creek and then climbing back up to the loop road beyond the cliff area.

My dogs were definitely barking the last few miles.  Ouch!  This was my second day on skis this year, and the hip flexors were not at all happy with the situation.  I will confess that when I hit the road near Park HQ I hitched a ride back up to the parking lot.  Some other time I will return to do the "entire" loop!

This was a blast.  If I had it to do over again I would consider leaving at 3 AM.  Supportable conditions along the whole route would trim hours off my time.  I bet you could do it in 6-7 hours relatively easily.
« Last Edit: 05/01/05, 10:49 AM by wingnut » Logged
Jeff Huber

Posts: 771

Re: April 30, 2005, Crater Lake Circuit
« Reply #1 on: 05/01/05, 03:10 PM »

Nice job Win!

Amar Andalkar

Posts: 1231

Re: April 30, 2005, Crater Lake Circuit
« Reply #2 on: 05/05/05, 06:08 AM »

Wingnut, thanks for the report, nice work doing the whole circuit in a day.

I'm glad you didn't let the worries about low snow coverage this year (link to earlier thread) discourage you from doing the trip. The scenery is so spectacular that it's always worthwhile.


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