After finally hiking Mount Lassen the day before, we thought it would be fun to try climbing Castle Dome (4,700 feet) in Castle Crags State Park. We also figured this might be our last chance since the park is slated to be closed next year because of California’s budget woes. The most popular hiking route is the Crags Trail which leads to spectacular views from the base of Castle Dome. Our goal was to climb the Regular Route (high Class 3 – low Class 4) to the summit of the Dome, where the view was anticipated to be even bigger! Although Sullivan describes climbing the Dome itself (Hike #98 in his Southern Oregon & Northern California guide (Second Edition), his description of the actual climbing route isn’t very detailed, so we used the one from SummitPost. It’s not a technical climb in the strictest sense but (as Sullivan says) it’s only for “confident scramblers” – as there are places where a slip could have very tragic consequences.
I’d always meant to hike up Mount Lassen in Lassen Volcanic National Park someday but “that some day” always seemed to somewhere in the future. The effort I put into climbing Mount Shasta (twice) might have been one reason Mount Lassen got neglected for so long. Then 3 years ago, we decided it was time to hike Mount Lassen and take another step toward climbing all of the 9,000+ foot Cascade volcanoes. Our only problem was that Lassen’s summit trail was being rebuilt (slowly) and was only open at odd times. This year it was scheduled to be open only on the 4th of July weekend, the weekend of August 13-14, and Labor Day weekend but could still be closed AT ANY MOMENT! Attempts in recent years had been derailed by road closures, lack of enthusiasm for a long snow climb, wildfires, and trail maintenance. Labor Day was booked, so we drove to the Mount Lassen Trailhead with just a little trepidation about its being open (yes, this time we did call ahead).