Of all the summits around Crater Lake, Garfield Peak is closest to the lodge and thus provides an
obvious winter objective. The west side is steeper than it looks, whereas the south slopes are very
gentle. The views are superb.
Routes: W Face (moderate snow climb,
Date: February 16, 2008
Party: DB solo
Route: W Face
Equipment: AT Skis
Time: Lodge - Summit 3 hrs
Base of Face - Summit 2 hrs 30 mins
Roundtrip from Lodge 6 hrs
Comments: Roundtrip time includes going up about 2/3 of the way a second time.
I returned to Crater Lake in order to finally ski the West Face of Garfield, which I had climbed two years before. Since I was familiar with the terrain from my previous trip, this time I did things more sensibly: I skied straight to the base of the face, rather than trying to traverse higher, and I climbed the line I intended to ski.
Upon arrival at the lodge I found the snow to be very icy (again!), so I took an ice axe, but left my crampons in the car, figuring that the snow would soften up. (It did, eventually, but later than I expected.) This turned out to be a dicy proposition: I encountered rime ice over water ice over crust, and on the steepest sections it was kind of marginal without crampons. As a result, the climb again took me surprisingly long. While I climbed, amazingly large chunks of rime ice kept whizzing by. They seems to encounter no meaningful friction, and I figured if I fell I would go at about the same speed. I boot packed up the lower, steeper, section, and switched to skinning once I reached the upper part. I skinned all the way to within 20 vertical feet or so to the summit, where I encountered a narrow, corniced ridge that is exposed to the lake 2,000' below. The ridge was covered with water ice, and I figured trying to ski that would not be worth it, so there was no point taking skis to the summit. Accordingly, I left my skis and climbed the last stretch to the summit. The view was spectacular.
I was concerned about the icy conditions, but was determined to give it a try. The upper, less steep part of the route was still very icy, but manageable due to the modest slope. On the steep part it turned out that the softening I had hoped for had taken place, and the skiing was actually rather good. I was able to link turns all the way, and the total descent took just a bit over 15 minutes. It was only 2:30, and so I decided to take advantage of my boot tracks and go up and ski the steep part one more time. About 40 minutes later I started down again, and it was again a very nice ride. Once back down, I skinned back up to the lodge, and on the drive back I had some amazing views, with Mt. Thielsen lit up by the setting sun.
Very nice trip, and I finally got this descent out of my system!
For earlier ascents, click here .