Pumice Desert Ski Tour (Crater Lake NP)

  • 3 Jan 2024
  • 7:00 AM
  • Walmart parking lot by the Pinebrook Road entrance
  • 0


Registration is closed

 Date may change due to snow/weather/road conditions

Pumice Desert Ski Tour (Crater Lake NP)

When: Tentatively, Wednesday, 3 Jan 2024 (Date may change due to snow/weather/road conditions) I’ll set the final date about a week before the outing based on NOAA weather forecast.

Where: Crater Lake NP North Entrance (there is not a view of the lake on this outing)

Meeting place/time: Walmart parking lot by the Pinebrook Road entrance at 0700. We will leave the parking lot NLT 0710.

Distance/hours: The skiing distance is 13.5 miles with 550 feet of cumulative elevation gain.  Driving time is about two hours (87 miles) each way. Skiing time is about five+ hours.  We will turn around and return for the vehicles NLT 1230 to start driving back by 1500.  The goal is to arrive back in Bend by 1700 (official sunset: 1639).  Total trip time will be about ten hours. 

This outing is planned be at a quicker pace and a longer distance than typical CONC outings.  Please honestly assess your ability in order to feel comfortable and enjoy the day, but without hindering the enjoyment of others. 

Brief Trail Description: The Pumice Desert is a 1500-acre depression on the north slope of Mt Mazama (a little over 20 times larger than Dutchman Flat but with a similar elevation variation). There are views of 5 peaks over 8000’.  The Pumice Desert gets very little use other than the snowmobile trail through the eastern side.  Solitude & vast acres of untracked snow abound.

Five miles of the ski will be on a groomed snowmobile route (first and last 2.5 miles).  Since this outing is during the week the motorized traffic should be light but if you don’t like being around snowmobiles then this isn’t the trip for you.  We will be skiing on the snowmobile trail as this is the fastest way to get to the Pumice Desert.

The skiing is not technically difficult but the distance requires an efficient ski technique and physical endurance.  We will need to make use of our ski’s glide to cover the distance so please apply glide wax to your tips and tails before the trip.  

We will NOT be in or near avalanche terrain.

For a geo-referenced map of the planned route, click HERE.

What to bring:  

This is a “low risk/high consequence” outing.  Crater Lake does not have an active Ski Patrol this winter and the Rangers are about 75 minutes from the North Entrance.  There is no cell coverage in the area.  You can expect a minimum time for a rescue to arrive to be five hours but more likely 6-8 or the next day so be prepared.

The Pumice Desert is a ‘frost pocket’ and tends to be 5-10 degrees colder than the surrounding lands so breaks and lunch will be short.

Bring the Ten Essentials.

Proper winter clothing for insulation and protection from wind and precipitation. Dress in layers. No cotton!  If we have an incident, you will be standing around for many hours.

The route is not marked.  If the weather turns bad then map and compass navigation is necessary Magnetic Declination is 14o 9’ East.

Ski Equipment:

Skis: 55-78 mm tip width (wider is extra weight and narrower just isn’t good in the backcountry). 

Bindings:  NNN-BC (or similar ruggedness). 

Boots: Moderately sturdy (groomed Nordic boots are too flimsy and Heavy boots made for turning skis will slow you down).     

Poles: Adjustable poles are preferable as you may want them a little longer for this ski.

Number of skiers: Maximum of eight from CONC. Plus there may be a few ONC members from Southern Oregon and the Klamath Basin clubs joining us.

Because the date of this tour depends on the conditions, registrations are going directly to the waitlist.  When the date is confirmed, you will be able to confim your participation.

Reservation Contact: Trip Coordinator-John Fertig jnfertig@gmail.com .

Ski Difficulty Level

Intermediate Tour +: The three keys to enjoying this tour are: use the appropriate equipment; have a good stride and glide technique; and have the physical endurance to ski at a decent pace for five+ hours. 

Conditions vary according to weather and trail conditions. Be aware that medical help is limited and five+ hours away.

You must be physically fit enough to participate safely in this activity within the anticipated time. If you have any doubts about your ability to meet these requirements, please contact me John Fertig ( jnfertig@gmail.com ) before you register for the tour. 




The Central Oregon Nordic Club, PO Box 744, Bend, OR 97709, is chapter of the Oregon Nordic Club, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Email: conordicclub@gmail.com

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