Crater Lake Ski Circumnavigation Trip Report March 6-7, 2020. 

Logistics: One must visit the Backcountry office before traveling around the lake to check in, obtain a permit and get approximate current conditions from the BC Ranger. You can only park overnight down by the BC office/Visitor Info center, you cannot park overnight at Rim Villiage where the journey actually starts. (The BC office is open 8:00 AM-5:00 PM, go early and get an early start!)

Direction: Clockwise
Total Distance: 36-37 miles
Weather: Mostly Sunny Day 1, moody, overcast with snow on Day 2.
Essentials: KNOW THE WEATHER FORECAST!! Have a plan, have a backup plan and enough gear/food for an extra night, have emergency contacts, and relay your plan to someone! The Rangers WILL NOT come looking for you until you are more than a day overdue or they hear from your Emergency contact!

Gear: Metal-edged Backcountry skis (Karhu Catamount and Voile Objective BC) with Tele bindings, Tele boots (Rossignol BCX 12's and Scarpa T4's) and skins. Hilleberg 2-person, 4-season tent, Cilo Gear backpacks (30Z Ski and 30L worksack, water filter, cookware, stove, 3 L of water, etc.


Day 1: The weather was sunny, but a bit breezy, pretty much perfect for early March!  The Lake hasn't had significant snow for a while, so conditions were firm, but a bit icy.  Skins were appreciated in a few spots. We began our journey by trudging up the Raven XC ski trail to Rim Villiage where we started our journey around the 33 mile long Rim Trail. (Caviat, trail is 33 miles without Avvy detours!  Avvy detours, and we did ALL of them!, add an extra 3-4 miles!) The first major obstacle was the Watchman, around 5.5 miles in from the beginning of our trek. The Watchman can be a HUGE avalanche risk, and one must assess each obstacle independently and for the conditions of the day! The major risk around the Watchman during this trip wasn't loose snow, but falling/melting rock and ice overhead. Needless to say, there are no photos of that part! Safely around the Watchman, we journeyed another 8-ish miles on Day 1 passing by countless views of the deep blue Crater Lake and many Mountains, including Mt. McLoughlin, Mt. Bailey, Diamond Peak, Mt. Thielsen, The Three Sisters, Mt. Bachelor and Broken Top, the views extended on forever in all directions! Following Backcountry camping rules, we ended Day 1 around 6:15 PM and camped out of sight, 100 feet off of the road in a grove of trees that protected us from the wind.

Day 2: We traveled the rest of the 22.5-ish miles all in one shot, taking breaks to soak in the views and the limited sunshine. We encountered bare pavement several times around the North and East sides of the Lake, so had to take off our skis and walk several times. At the Ranger's suggestion, we detoured around ALL avalanche areas, some of which were more necessary than others.  When trekking around the Lake, one must make independent decisions on which avvy detours to do and which can be traveled through.  Again, due to falling rock and ice, it was ESSENTIAL to do some of the avvy detours, in particular Dutton Cliffs!  We were able to take the lower road detour around this area rather than pitching ourselves down into the icy woods, which was a welcome change from the other 2 times I have gone around the Lake! As we approached Cloudcap on the East side of the Lake, we saw fast moving clouds, other indications of high winds, and a VERY moody Mt. Scott!  Luckily, this storm, which dropped a light dusting of snow, blew through before we arrived at Cloudcap, and we managed to sail smoothly through the area in lightly overcast conditions. The sun tried to come out a few more times during our trek, and stuck around long enough for us to have a brief lunch near the Phantom Ship overlook.  Then the sun disappeared, and, as if right on cue, it started lightly snowing at 4:15 PM!  (NOAA was predicting snow starting at 4:00!). It proceeded to lightly snow for the rest of our journey.  After our last avvy detour, we reached Rim Drive around 6:15 PM, just at dark.  We were prepared to do so and had already resigned ourselves to that fact when we began our journey early that morning.  We returned to the car around 7:15 PM and, after a 2.5 hour drive back to Sunriver, were rewarded with a tasty dinner and a cold beverage!
 
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Start of the Trail at Rim Villiage

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Early view of the Lake

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Still fresh early into the trek!

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Successfully around the Watchman

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One of the countless Mountain views (Day 2)

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Storm passing through near Mt. Scott

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Taking in lunch and the view near the Phantom Ship Overlook

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Final view of the Lake before the last 12-ish miles