Mt. Bailey (Oregon Cascades, 8,363')

Mt. Bailey, just across Diamond Lake from Mt. Thielsen, is a much more gentle volcano than its neighbor. It provides a nice summer trail hike, and a good ski trip with a fairly long approach in winter. Unfortunately, there is a commercial snow cat operation going on, which can diminish the wilderness experience.

Topo Map

Routes: E Side (Easy ski descent)

References: N. Dodge

Mt. Bailey from Diamond Lake in March

Date: March 22, 2004

Party: Dietrich and Paul Belitz

Equipment: AT Skis

Time: Diamond Lake Sno Park - Summit: 5 hrs 5 mins; Summit - Sno Park: 2 hrs 45 mins; Round Trip: 8 hrs 45 mins

Comments: Time down was 25 mins to lose most of the elevation plus 2 hrs slogging through the forest and across the flats

Trip report:

The weather was still perfect, so after coming back from Mt. St. Helens we just put in one rest day before starting out again, this time for Mt. Bailey. We had attempted Bailey on skis before, in April 2002 with Dave Cohen, but had quit on the false (south) summit since the traverse was icy and we did not carry ice axes. This time we planned to go up the prominent valley on Bailey's East side, rather than the SE Ridge that leads to the South Summit. Accordingly, we parked at the Diamond Lake Sno Park to approach straight from the East, and started out by crossing the open area just South of Diamond Lake.

After half an hour we hit Silent Creek, which turned out to not be easily crossable. We considered wading it, but the prospect of getting really wet and cold feet, together with the five-foot plus vertical snow walls on either bank, persuaded us to head South to look for the bridge. After slogging upstream for half a mile we found it and turned East again, which was a mistake: A look at the map would have shown that from that point we would have needed to travel North for a mile and a half to gain access to our valley. Instead, we followed the terrain more or less, and cursed the never ending flat sections which gave me a blister on the sole of my right foot. Two and a half hours into the trip we found ourselves at 6,200', having covered three quarters of the distance, but only 1,000' of elevation! Finally the terrain got steeper, but the valley did not materialize. Soon the ridge to our right started looking familiar, and I realized that we were again on the SE Ridge! Oh well, it was too late to change that now. We continued skinning up, and after four and a half hours reached the false summit at 8,120'. From there it's only another 250 vertical feet to the true summit, but the traverse is quite steep. I was really motivated to summit this time and had brought an ice axe, so I would have done it no matter what the condition were like. Paul had no ice axe and some kind of a stomach bug that slowed him down quite a bit, so he was less eager then I was to keep going. It turned out that conditions on the traverse were good, though, and we had no problems skinning over.

Shortly after 2pm we reached the summit and were surprised to find sno cat tracks all over. Paul remembered reading that there was a sno cat skiing operation on Bailey, and sure enough, after a while a sno cat arrived, spit out three skiers who disappeared down the West Side, and went back down. While this was somewhat of a distraction from our wilderness experience, I must say that sno cats are a lot quieter, slower, and hence much less annoying, than snowmobiles. We enjoyed the views of Crater Lake, Mt. McLoughlin to the South, Mt. Thielsen across Diamond Lake to the East, and Diamond Peak and the Three Sisters to the North, ate lunch, melted snow, and got ready for the descent.

The obvious thing to do was make a loop by going down into the bowl we had missed on the ascent. The first 1,000' or so were perfect corn, and the next 1,500' were still pretty good snow. We had great fun dropping 2,500' in 25 minutes, and that included taking lots of pictures and shooting a video. Then came some survival skiing through the forest, followed by the long slog back to the car. A X-country ski trail led to the bridge as we had hoped it would, but the treck from the creek to the Sno Park seemed to never end. The blister under my right foot felt humungous at that time (it later turned out it was indeed), and we both were rather tired. Still, we reached the car with 45 minutes of daylight to spare.

Nice trip, but surprisingly strenuous.

Photo Gallery:

Here is a short (~6MB) movie of our trip.

Here are some still pictures. Click the pictures to see a higher resolution image.

Mt. Bailey from Diamond Lake Sno Park. We skinned up the left ridge and skied down the bowl. It's a long way to the mountain That's me on the summit. Crater Lake is in the far background; the false summit is in the near background. Paul on the summit; Mt. Thielsen in the background Paul on the summit; Diamond Peak and the Three Sisters in the background DB skiing the bowl

Paul skiing the bowl That's me skiing the bowl View back into the bowl