Skiing the Cascade Volcanoes
        Amar Andalkar's Ski Mountaineering and Climbing Site
Ski Mountaineering Photos & Trip Reports Equipment & Info Cascade Volcanoes Ring of Fire Site Map

Table of Contents | Introduction | Ratings | WebCams | Bibliography | Highest Volcanoes | Snowfall & Snowdepth | Monthly Chart | Conifers | Compare | Distance | Sun Chart
  Lassen Peak
  Mount Shasta
  Medicine Lake Volcano
  Mount McLoughlin
  Pelican Butte
  Crater Lake
  Mount Bailey
  Mount Thielsen
  Diamond Peak
  Newberry Volcano
  Mount Bachelor
  Broken Top
  Three Sisters
  Mount Washington
  Three Fingered Jack
  Mount Jefferson
  Mount Hood
  Mount Saint Helens
  Mount Adams
  Goat Rocks
  Mount Rainier
  Glacier Peak
  Mount Baker
  Mount Garibaldi
  Mount Cayley
  Mount Meager

| Sunrise over Crater Lake, looking NE from the crater rim
over Wizard Island; fog pours over the rim in the
distance on the far side of the lake (June 1999)
(photo by Amar Andalkar)   <click to enlarge>

Crater Lake   (Mount Mazama)
    8926 ft (2721 m) .
Major Peaks:
Mount Scott:     8926 ft (2721 m)
Hillman Peak:     8151 ft (2484 m)
Dutton Ridge:     8147 ft (2483 m)
Applegate Peak:     8126 ft (2477 m)
Cloudcap:     8065 ft (2458 m)
Garfield Peak:     8054 ft (2455 m)
Llao Rock:     8049 ft (2453 m)
The Watchman:     8013 ft (2442 m)
Location: Cascade Range, southern Oregon,
55 miles (90 km) NW of Klamath Falls
Lat / Long: 42.9° N, 122.1° W
Volcanic Type: Stratovolcano with caldera and satellite cones
Volcanic Status: Dormant
First Ascent: Unknown, Native American
First Ski Descent:
Skiable Vertical: up to 3000 ft (900 m)
Timberline: 8000-9000 ft (2400-2750 m)
Administration: Crater Lake National Park
Protection Status:   much of National Park is administered as wilderness
User Fees: National Park entrance fee (or National Parks Pass)

Crater Lake National Park is one of the wonders of the natural world. Once a large stratovolcano (known as Mount Mazama) reached a height of over 12000 feet (3700 m), but a massive eruption 7700 years ago destroyed the summit cone and emptied the magma chamber below, causing the entire mountain to collapse. This formed the 6 mile (10 km) wide caldera which eventually filled with the brilliant blue waters of 1932 foot (589 m) deep Crater Lake, the deepest in the US. The lake surface now lies at 6178 feet (1883 m), with the surrounding rim varying from about 7000-8000 ft (2100-2400 m). Massive annual snowfall averaging over 530 inches (13 m) per year buries the area, making ski circumnavigations of the crater rim feasible in winter and spring. However, these deep snows also close Rim Drive well into summer, preventing easy vehicle access to ski mountaineering objectives such as Mount Scott, the highest surviving remnant of the original Mount Mazama. However, a number of other skiable high points on the crater rim remain easily accessible throughout the winter and spring.

Route Ratings Starting
Quality Effort Ascent Descent
Ski Mountaineering / Cross-Country Skiing Routes:
  (along the Crater Rim,
    start from Rim Village)

7100 ft
(2150 m)
+4000 ft
(+1200 m)
-4700 ft
(-1400 m)
31 miles
(50 km)
The circumnavigation of the rim of Crater Lake is one of the classic cross-country ski routes in the US. The circuit follows the snow-covered Rim Drive, which generally stays within sight of the edge of the rim, except for a few sections on the south and east sides where it must detour far from the lake. The route is generally done in about 2-3 days, although cross-country racers have done it in less than 8 hours. Many parts of the road are difficult to follow when snow-covered, so this is definitely a backcountry tour. For the ski mountaineer, there are many steeper slopes dropping from the various high points along the rim which would provide enough good turns to make the loop worthwhile (as if the scenery alone wasn't enough!).
Mount Scott
  (Northwest Bowl
    from Kerr Notch)

6700 ft
(2050 m)
2300 ft
(700 m)
9 miles
(14 km)
Mount Scott is the most prominent high point in Crater Lake National Park, although it lies about 2 miles (3 km) east of the crater rim. It is a satellite cone of the original Mount Mazama, and survived largely unscathed due to its position east of the subterranean magma chamber. A large glacial cirque (which also predates the climactic eruption of Mazama) has been carved into the northwest side, exposing some of the solidified magma in the central conduits. This cirque makes an excellent albeit somewhat short ski descent, but due to its somewhat windward exposure tends to lose snowcover before summer (before the road opens to its base). The best option for good access and snow conditions is to go in spring as the plowing progresses, and drive as far as the Park Service will allow (usually to Kerr Notch). On the relatively smooth and uneroded north, east, and southeast sides, long treeless slide paths descend from the summit well into the forests below, providing somewhat longer ski runs with the penalty of reascent to return to the trailhead on Rim Drive. It may be possible to reach these routes from the Scott Creek and/or Pothole Creek drainages, which appear to offer very direct access.
Mount Scott
  (north / northeast side
    from Kerr Notch)

+2300 ft
(+700 m)
-800 ft
(-250 m)
11 miles
(18 km)
Mount Scott
  (east / southeast side
    from Scott Creek)

6100 ft
(1850 m)
2800 ft
(850 m)
6 miles
(9 km)
Garfield Peak /
  Applegate Peak
  (from Park HQ)

6400 ft
(1950 m)
1700 ft
(500 m)
8 miles
(12 km)
These short and easy routes start from the Park Headquarters south of Rim Village and follow the snowcovered Rim Drive east. The broad snow slope leading to Garfield and Applegate peaks appears in only 1 mile, while the similarly gentle Dutton Ridge is about 5.5 miles up the road (after a short descent past Sun Notch). Stunning views of the lake can be found from all three high points and from the overlook at Sun Notch.
Dutton Ridge
  (from Park HQ)

1900 ft
(600 m)
-200 ft
(-50 m)
14 miles
(22 km)
The Watchman
  (from Rim Village)

7100 ft
(2150 m)
1000 ft
(300 m)
7 miles
(11 km)
This route follows the snow-covered Rim Drive west from Rim Village, passing the Wizard Island Overlook in about 2.5 fairly flat miles. Hillman Peak is the highest point on the rim of Crater Lake, while the Watchman has a lookout cabin on its summit. Short ascents of about 800 ft (250 m) from Rim Drive lead to either summit, and steep slopes provide a short but sweet ski run, especially on the northwest side of each peak. These faces usually remain skiable after the park road opens, and the outlines of ski turns often linger in the snow well into midsummer.
Hillman Peak
  (from Rim Village)

1100 ft
(350 m)
9 miles
(14 km)

| Panoramic view of Crater Lake from the south rim (just east of Crater Lake Lodge) in June, digitally composited from three photographs:
Wizard Island is the prominent satellite cone in the lake at left center; Mount Thielsen is visible in the distance beyond the crater rim at center
(photo by Amar Andalkar) <click to enlarge>

| Topographic map of Crater Lake
showing ski routes listed in table above
<click map to enlarge, 216 kB file>

| Aerial view of Crater Lake from the east,
with Mount Scott at lower left
(photo by S. C. Porter) <click to enlarge>

Useful Web Links:

Crater Lake National Park: Home Page
      (with links to road and trail reports)
National Weather Service Office: Medford, OR
National Weather Service: South Central Oregon Cascades Zone Forecast (alternate link)
The Weather Channel: Crater Lake National Park, OR, Forecast
USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory: Crater Lake
USGS: Crater Lake Data Clearinghouse
Deschutes National Forest: Oregon Volcanoes: Mount Mazama (Crater Lake)

List of Guidebooks:  (detailed references on the bibliography page)

Cross Country Ski Routes in Oregon Crater Lake Rim, Garfield Peak (skiing info)
100 Hikes in Oregon Mount Scott (hiking info)

List of Maps:

Map Series Scale Topo? Map Names Year Notes
USGS 7.5-minute 1:24,000 Yes, 40 ft Crater Lake West
Crater Lake East
Pothole Butte
First two maps cover all of Crater Lake and most
  of Mount Scott, while third map covers eastern part
USGS Natl Park 1:62,500 Yes, 50 ft Crater Lake National Park 1988 Very useful, nicely covers entire park on one map,
  including east approach to Mount Scott;
  excellent info about Crater Lake's formation on back
Trails Illustrated 1:62,500 Yes, 50 ft Crater Lake National Park 1997? A copy of the USGS map above, easier to find in stores,
  but costlier and with less useful information on back
US Forest Service 1:126,720 No Winema National Forest 1994 Somewhat useful for forest road information
  for east approach to Mount Scott

More photos, routes, links, references, etc. coming soon...
Please contact me with any suggestions, additions, or corrections.

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Table of Contents | Introduction | Ratings | WebCams | Bibliography | Highest Volcanoes | Snowfall & Snowdepth | Monthly Chart | Conifers | Compare | Distance | Sun Chart
Ski Mountaineering Photos & Trip Reports Equipment & Info Cascade Volcanoes Ring of Fire Site Map

Amar Andalkar   Seattle, WA, USA   <About the Author / Contact Me>
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