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The lodge at the Southwest Visitor Center

Within an hour and a half of Chico lies Lassen Volcanic National Park. With El Nino’s arrival some AO staff and friends decided to embark on our first backcountry ski/snowboard tour of the Winter season.  We arrived at Lassen hoping there would be enough snow for our first turns of the year…and we were not disappointed!  There were several feet of fresh snow on the ground and new snow falling for our entire visit.

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Tim enjoying some backcountry snow

Some areas that are good for beginners, or those who haven’t been on skis/snowboards in a while, are the old ski lifts, the Diamond peak area or Ridge Lakes.  We decided on the Diamond Peak area and cruised up the road, which is closed in winter, on skis and snowshoes.  Within 45 minutes of leaving the parking lot we were preparing for our first turns on some untouched powder!  Not bad, considering we were in Chico less than 2.5 hours before, right?  See below for more details.

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Pete finishing the day off with a lap at the old ski lifts

Type: Backcountry ski/snowboard or snowshoe
Location: Begins at Southwest Visitor Center, Lassen Volcanic National Park
Duration: 5-10 hours
Distance: 4+ miles
Drive time from campus: 1.5 hours
Approx cost: $15 in gas + $10 entrance fee to the national park
What you need: A car, ski/snowboard/snowshoe gear, warm clothes, avalanche safety equipment
Experience level: Varies by location you’re traveling to.  Those leaving the road or following it past Sulfur Works should have avalanche training and backcountry travel experience.
Level of difficulty: moderate – difficult
Hazards: Avalanche terrain & quickly changing weather.  Anyone traveling in the backcountry in winter months should have proper avalanche training and be sure to check current conditions prior to departing.

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