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Mt. McLoughlin 9,495′ – Oregon

Mt. Mcloughlin 9,495’

Location: Sky Lakes Wilderness – Southern Oregon

Elevation Change 4000’ SE Ridge or 5500’ SW Ridge

This is one is excellent if you live in Tahoe (or anywhere). I would try and ski Lassen or Shasta in the same trip. Hit all 3 and you really start to feel the draw of a longer Volcano Ski Tour calling you north. These are the easier Volcanoes to ski though; don’t get your hopes up for nailing them all as easily as you might get this one. I’m far from an expert on Oregon Ski touring or Volcano ski descents, but I’ve been to these three many times. The guidebooks I have at home are Oregon Descents by David Waag 1997, and Backcountryski Oregon by Christopher Van Tilburg 2001. You’ll also find some pics and home-made maps on an older website called skimountaineer.com by Amar Andalkar. We also just started selling Stevens Pass Ski Atlas From Alpenglow Publishing Studio By Dexter Burke – The BackCountry in the shop. These amazing mountain images from the air to help you visualize your ski tour ideas.I thought I had a clue until I started flipping through these three photo books we have for sale in the shop now. The other two are for Tahoe and Steven’s Pass.

I have only skied Mt. McLoughlin in the springtime, in search of corn snow on a windless sunny day. PNW Volcanos are often icy, and wind hammered in the steep upper sections. Many of them are hard to access earlier in the year. McLoughlin is easy to access, however! I have parked in two locations to ski the SW and SE sides. I also skied the NE side last spring and traversed back around to the car on the standard and shortest route which is the 4000’ SE Ridge. To start this shorter route, you will ideally wait until the snow has melted to the Mt. Mcloughlin Summit trailhead. I guess you could go from hwy 140 if snow blocks forest access road 3650, which is the trailhead road. Last year I only got about a mile up the road and that worked fine.

The first group of photos in this post are from April 6, 2021, with Henry and Vince. After skiing Mt. Thielsen, we were hanging out in the parking lot talking with Oregon Local and total badass athlete Pete McCafee. I asked him “what’s the absolute best thing we could ski tomorrow?” He shared his screenshot GPS track of his previous day skiing the Southwest side of McLoughlin. I compared my Gaia app to his picture and followed the approximate route he recorded, from car to dirt roads, through bushes and finally to a view of the peak. This was a 5500’ route, which provided the longest continuous fall line skiing by far that you can do on this peak. I have posted pictures from that day in this post. My ski partners for this day where Vince and Henry.

The last 10 or so photos are from April 2022 when Danny and I climbed the 4000′ SE ridge near the PCT and dropped into the NE Bowl. We traversed back around to the car. This was a warm day with no wind and really sweet. Snow was a bit soft and slow, but we were psyched! What an amazing mountain you get all to yourself.

If you scroll down to the first REPLY on this post, I have also included some pictures from a ski I did last year in 2022 with Danny, where we climbed the 4000’ SE Ridge route and skied down the NE Bowl for about 2000’. We traversed around back to the car using Gaia. If you just go up and down the SE Route there are worthy sections to enjoy turns as well, but more tracks to cross and a bit of traversing while you ski down.

After your ski tour on McLoughlin, drive around to the south side of Fish Lake and hang out on the dock for a beer and a great view of the peak! I haven’t skied the other small peaks in this area, but there are a few. If I lived closer, I would try them all, but I probably won’t find the time. I do highly recommend Mt. Thielsen, which I skied in the same 2022 road trip which included Mt. McLoughlin, Mt. Shasta, and Mt. Lassen. I have some pics and tips on those here on MST.

The guidebooks I have are BACKCOUNTRYSKI! OREGON by Christopher Van Tilburg and OREGON DESCENTS by David Waag. I try to stock these in the shop. we also sell the Oregon Ski Atlas, a new photo guide from the air, which is just amazing for inspiration and visualizing the terrain you want to go ski. I’m looking through this new book while I write this, and the number of ski descents all around Broken Top AND in the crater itself….. I had no idea.

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