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Peak Bagging in Winter

eak bagging, according to refers to climbing mountains. When a summit is reached, it is “bagged”. You don’t have to go to exotic locations to enjoy this sport, or even be an elite mountain climber. Every county in this country and every region in the world has a highest point. Do you know yours?

Here in Butte County Ca, the highest point is a nondescript, unamed ridge not far off the Pacific Crest Trail near Humboldt Peak. In some places, the highest point is a well known landmark, in others, not so much.
Just to north of us are some very well known highest points, in Siskiyou County, it”s 14,179′ Mt Shasta. Just northeast in Lassen County, Mt Lassen rules the heights at over 10,000 ft. And just to north in Tehama County, Lassen Peaks close neighbor Mt Brokeoff holds the honor at 9235′.
The author in yellow and climbing partner bagged Mt. Brokeoff near Mt. Lassen in Tehama County.
Both Lassen and Brokeoff are non-technical climbs in summer but neither should be taken lightly. Brokeoff is listed in the Lassen National Park website as as one of the toughest but most rewarding trails in the park. Gaining 2600′ in about 3.5 miles at a starting altitude of 6635′ will definitely challenge your conditioning level.
And if summer isn’t challenging enough, you might want to try it in winter. If this is your goal, I strongly recommend that you do your homework and come prepared. This is not a Disney ride and if you get into trouble, it might be along time, if ever, before help arrives.
Winter ascents offer a whole different perspective on the outdoor experience. As opposed to summer climbs in Lassen, winter requires at least some mountaineering knowledge. At minimum you will need to be prepared for steep and icy conditions, the possibility of an avalanche, cold and windy weather, and be able to plan for a self rescue. Good snowshoes and poles are a must. We have been using MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes for the past few years. They have held up in very rugged conditions and provide maximum traction in very dicey conditions. We have also used the very lightweight MSR Overland Trekking Poles. Now MSR has some variations on both that are worth considering. Built on the same high traction frame, the MSR Lightning Axis offers two new
features. As described on the MSR website, it has Axis Gait Efficiency: The World’s first bilateral binding adjustment neutralizes variances in natural foot positions to ensure an efficient, parallel stride. In simpler terms, it allows you to adjust the shoes so that they are always parallel. If for example you are pigeon-toed, you can adjust the shoe to point forward and therefore not bang the snowshoes against each other every other step. They also offer the SpeedLock system that allows you to adjust the toe portion of the shoe and leave it that way for easier on and off while out on the snow. An additional new feature is the ability to add floatation tails to adjust to different snow conditions and users. This feature has always been available for MSR’s plastic frame shoes and is now available on the metal framed shoes.
MSR has also improved it’s trekking pole options. The new SureLock system uses a “non-slip” technology that is not possible in a twist lock system. These new poles come a TR and UL series. The MSR TR stands for trigger release and allows you to adjust the poles by squeezing a trigger at the handgrip area for one-handed adjustment. The UL series is lighter and does not have the trigger release.
Whether you choose to climb in winter or summer, or whatever equipment you decide to use, Peak Bagging can be an interesting way to enhance your outdooor adventures. Check out the highest points in your area, maybe you can become a peak bagger!

Jim Broshears was born and raised in Northern California and has enjoyed the great outdoors in the State of Jefferson for over 50 years. Jim worked as a firefighter for 35 years and currently owns and manages Trailhead Adventures, an outdoor outfitter store in Paradise CA. Helping others enjoy the beauty of our amazing area is his passion. Jim co-manages a blog, that is dedicated to providing information about hiking and backpacking gear, local adventures and tips on outdoor safety and survival.


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