Mount Shasta Climber's Log
[ Sign the Climber's Log ]
|scot'teryx||Route Climbed: Avalanche Gulch Date Climbed: June 21-24 2001|
|After weeks of preparation, research, and mental and physical preparation – we found ourselves at the top of California’s 7th highest peak, and 2nd tallest Cascade Volcano at an impressive 14,162 feet! That’s only 249 feet shorter than our locally visited Mt Rainier!|
It was a windy and very cold day, but not even close to the weather that we would encounter on Mt Rainier if we summit this July.
It all started when Dick B thought that Shasta would be a good peak to climb since the altitude and such are similar to the expedition style type of climbing we would be encountering on Rainier. We made our way down the I-5 corridor towards the wonderful Northern California area. As we found ourselves getting further and further south, we noticed how much hotter it really was in other parts of the states! By the time we went over the last highway pass and got our first sights on the giant Mt Shasta looming over the valley, we were totally hydrated (stopped at every single rest stop to fill up water containers) and ready to climb! As we pulled into Shasta City, we learned that it was the celebration of the summer solstice, and warned by locals that there could be some real strange folks up at the trailheads and along the trails. It was a real dry heat, but it seemed to range in-between 95-100 degrees! This was something that I had not experienced since I left the state almost 10 years ago, and never want to relive. The terrain is so plain, so dry, and so featureless, except for the mountain. Mt Shasta is so unique, with Shastina at 12,330 feet on its flanks, and the summit registering in at 14,162 feet.
We spent the night at the trailhead of Bunny Flats at 6800 feet, which is the general area for climbers to start to ascend the Avalanche Gulch route, which is the most common route, especially with the dry season that they had. There were not that many folks around us, and we found ourselves being the loudest and the most unique of the crowd. With guitar and pick, I began to play the summer solstice song, (we created on the way down there) and then had it choreographed by Bruce M. It was a type of tribal/retarded scenario, but we had the most fun, but I believe that the surrounding campers thought we must have been doing a lot more than just drinking Gatorade! It then got carried a little too far after Dick B thought that pillowcases were tribal headpieces, and I spun my headlamp in the dark as they danced to the tribal beat. You had to be there is all I can say.
We got an early start in the morning and packed our bags after leaving the cars. It was a warm morning and we knew it was going to much hotter, so we all mentally prepared ourselves for some demanding work ahead. The trail and surrounding area was much different than what we have been used to, with the trail having a moisture content of about negative 3, and just dirt and some trees surrounding us which is quite different than Washington State.
The trail then started to gain a little elevation as we headed into Horse Camp. This was our first stop, and where we could get fresh water from the spring. That was some of the best water I have ever had! The Horse Camp is a small building made of stone that houses the Sierra Club. There is generally a caretaker than monitors the area and the restrooms. There is a library inside, and many spots to camp around the area, and it is less than 2 miles up from the trailhead, and only a few hundred feet in elevation gain. From here we headed up the Olberman’s Causeway, which is a trail of large rocks and stones that were built by the original caretaker over the course of ten years! The main reason is to protect the surrounding area I assume, but made for uneasy stepping with all the weight that we were carrying. After about .5 miles, we started climb the gradual ascent of switchback after switchback in gravel and dirt which got us above the tree line. This portion of the trail lasted for about a mile, and it got very hot! We got our first views of the mountain trail from here, and we were just plain excited to get to base camp. We finally reached the 50/50 camp, which is the first base camp that lies right around 9000 feet or so, but we trudged on and finally got on the snowfield, which was a true relief! This portion of the climb has a nickname as well, which is Standstill Hill. Named because it seems like you are getting nowhere, and base camp is just not within reach. Seems very similar to the Muir snowfield on Mt Rainier! We finally reached Helen Lake Base Camp at 10,400 feet sometime that afternoon, and grabbed the first few sites that we saw that had cairn shelters and a fantastic view that faced south into the valley of Shasta City. If we turned the other way, we had a fantastic view of the Avalanche Gulch route, as well as the Red Banks, but you are never able to see the actual summit, as it is a slow ascent after the Red Banks, which places it out of view. The one thing that we all did forget was the Water Filter, but we assumed we would be on snow, but there was running water a few feet next to us. So we boiled water for the next 4-5 hours and got prepared for the summit push the next morning. We decided as a group that we would try and be one of the first groups up, so we set a time of 2am to wake up, and 3am to start walking.
2am came quite quickly, but we all slept quite well due to the warmer weather than what we are used to, so we got ready and prepared for the summit assault. We started walking at 315am and noticed that there were a few other groups ahead of us already. We did not start with our crampons at first as it was a low grade, and there were good steps, but half an hour later we stopped to put them on. We made our way towards the Red Banks which is a large groups of red colored rock formations that give access to Misery Hill via varied width chutes, etc. The chute we ascended was only about 20 feet wide, and seemed like about a 40-degree angle. We thought that we might get some shelter from the wind at this point, but the chutes actually carried the wind at a higher velocity. By the time we reached the top of the Red Banks we were at 12,800 feet, with just a little further to go, but we still had to get past “Misery Hill”. We reached the plateau just before Misery Hill and regrouped inside a small rock shelter that barely kept the 40+ mph winds off of us. It was very cold at this point, even though the sun was trying to poke out of some clouds. I did notice that Joseph was trying to actually climb inside of his backpack to stay warm! We ate a few things, tried to drink some water (my Platypus froze by this time) but I had my good old Nalgene to hydrate me. We started to ascend the scree covered switchbacks up Misery Hill, fighting the full forced winds all the way to the Summit Plateau.
What a feeling! The Summit pinnacle was in view and not that far away! Dick and Joseph were just ahead of me and Alison was just getting up on the plateau behind me. I saw a major photo op with Dick and Joseph ahead of me as they made their way towards the summit pinnacle, so I took out the camera and snapped the image. In a few minutes I was going to conquer this mystical, yet awe-inspiring mountain that has taken a long time to prepare for. It was one of the best feelings I have had in the mountains up until this point.
We re-grouped at the bottom of the pinnacle and headed up the steep scree/ice slope to the summit. At the last few feet before the summit, Dick asked Alison if she would lead us to the top, and a few moments later we were standing at the summit at 14,162 feet! The summit was void of snow, and we all grouped together and took pictures, ate food, and drank water. The crowds then started to show up as there must have been about 20 people up there at one time. We decided to hang out just below the summit at a small area where we could get some sun, and wait for the snow to soften up for the glissade down.
The descent was quite easy and safe, and the snow was still quite hard, with large sun cups that made for easy plunge stepping. Right before the Red Banks we put our crampons back on and descended through the Red Banks one at a time. It started to look like a circus on the route at this point, as there were people up here that did not belong. Some folks had on College sweatshirts; some had crampons that barely stayed on their boots, and some had ice axes that were twice the height of themselves. There were many groups on the side of the route that were sleeping, throwing up, or just trying to catch their breath! As we descended through the Red Banks we noticed that Dick was off to the side of the route nursing an injury. It turned out that he post holed and then lost his balance and stabbed the back of his leg with his other crampon! Alison came down right after that and helped him butterfly it back together and safely prepare it for the descent. It was not too bad, and Dick wound up getting stitches in Shasta City after we got down.
The glissade chute was obvious, as it got to be 1-2 feet in depth at times on the route! The conditions were still icy, but I decided to take the first stab at it, since no one else on the mountain was. All the factors were there to make it one of the best glissades ever, but it was too fast. I had to use my packs hip belt as a fulcrum for my axe as it got real tiring pushing the end down to brake on the icy run. It was real fun because we passed dozens of people on their way down that were plunge stepping the whole way, which must have been a lot of work compared to the path we chose. I found myself going to fast and it was time to self arrest, my pick grabbed the ice and I stopped quite quickly as I lunged in with all my weight. As I got up from the arrest position, I found my boots slipping from underneath me and I started to slide down the chute helplessly without my ice axe, as it was still plunged into the icy hill. My mind was telling me just how much trouble I was in because there was going to be no way for me to arrest without an axe as I gained speed down this chute towards whatever run out there might be below. At the last moment, I felt a hard tug on my wrist and I had stopped! I looked up and noticed that my ice axe leash was the only thing holding me. At this time I was hoping that the knot I tied on the axe was a good one, but didn’t know how long it would hold. My leash was too long for me to actually grab the shaft of the axe and feet were just slipping from beneath me. I started to kick steps in the side of the chute to somehow give me some sort of balance to keep from sliding if the axe did come out of the hill. I could not see anyone as well because the chute was so deep, so I finally got stable and was able to pull myself out of the chute. I saw the rest of the group coming down the hill at this point, and told them of what had just happened. The snow started to soften up below, so we were able to have a much safer glissade down to base camp.
We got to out shelters and passed out on the rocks. Tracy and Bruce were on their way up from Horse Camp, and they had empty packs to help us carry stuff down! That was the second best news we had heard all day (Best news being the summit). I was completely exhausted by the time we got down to the trailhead, and excited to get a shower and a bed. What a perfect way to complete the perfect summit!
|Posted Jul 15, 2001 1:40 pm|
|Romain||Route Climbed: Avalanche Gulch Date Climbed: July 2, 2000|
|Crowded climb on a fourth of July week end. Latecomers had trouble finding a flat spot to camp on at Helen lake. With an early start we were on the summit around 8:00 am; the glissade down was even quicker. Beautiful day for a stroll.|
|Posted Jun 20, 2001 10:39 pm|
|mdostby||Route Climbed: Avalanche Gulch Date Climbed: 5/25/01|
|Very warm, lots of rock fall. Snow is melting fast.|
|Posted May 30, 2001 12:47 pm|
|tbnelson||Route Climbed: Casaval Ridge Date Climbed: May 18, 2001|
|On 19 May 2001 Garth Utter joined Ed Reiter and myself on the summit at about 1:30 PM. We successfully completed the Casaval Ridge Route under clear skies but with winds up to 40 to 50 mph on the top of the ridge. This was a second summit of Shasta for all three of us. It was an interesting, airy and mixed alpine experience. We experienced snow/ice slopes up to 55 degrees and climbed class 4 rock along the ridge line with some significant exposure and awe inspiring runout below.|
|Posted May 20, 2001 8:08 pm|
|YaJooHayyain||Route Climbed: avalanche gulch Date Climbed: 5/12/2001|
|In my defense, I made it within ~20ft of the top. I *would* have made it but Josh gave me incorrect directions to the top when we passed each other on Misery Hill.|
|Posted May 13, 2001 6:53 pm|
|Josh||Route Climbed: Avalanche Gulch Date Climbed: 5/12/01|
|Climbed with Ryle and Sebe. Insane winds at the top of Misery Hill and near the summit made for some interesting "climbing" (I literally almost got blown off the mountain). A huge lenticular cloud hung over Shasta all day. Otherwise, perfect conditions. The snow at the lower elevations was pretty consolidated. Above 10K ft there was a nice wind-packed surface. Ryle and Sebe didn't summit for various reasons. Did the round trip from the parking lot in 5.5 hours.|
|Posted May 12, 2001 9:20 pm|
|bigwally||Route Climbed: Casaval Ridge Date Climbed: February, 1986|
|Well, my friend, Lee Price said,"Come on up and we'll do Shasta". I told him that I thought it was February and pretty cold. He reassured me that we'd have the mountain to ourselves.........and he was right !!! Joined by teacher friend, Steve, we plugged up the hill to about the 11,000 ft. level and spent a very comfortable night. The next morning revealed that it had stormed, below us, that is, so we summited with a sea of white clouds beneath us and blazing blue sky above !!! Glissading down " Giddy Gully" we hollered , Laughed and giggled, descending in a few hours what had taken nearly 2 days to climb. Thank you, Priceless, wherever you are for a fine, fine trip and a wonderful lesson in Life. If you're going to run with the Big Dogs, you've got to get off the porch !!!!|
|Posted May 10, 2001 2:04 am|
|Ryle||Route Climbed: Casaval Ridge Date Climbed: 04/15/01|
|On Saturday afternoon we drove up from sea level to bunny flat. I got up at 4:45 on Sunday after a long night of not sleeping because my climbing partner, Slavedriver needed to sleep with the clock (in the car), and I had to sleep on the parking lot at bunny flat. (I used to be able to sleep on such surfaces but found out that is not longer the case). We started the climb at 5:00, and I followed in his postholes. The snow didn't slow him down much, and I thought I was moving quickly considering the condition, but was definitely not matching The Slavedriver's breakneck speed. We went a little ways up towards Avalanchce Gulch, and then went up one of the windows to Casaval Ridge at around sunrise, when we put on crampons. Here I was warned that "If 'we' don't speed up, 'we're' not going to make it", even though my heart was going at about 170bpm. I got slower and slower as we kept going, I think not taking time to eat was detrimental (Slavedriver wouldn't let me, and the guy had an ice axe). We passed these people camping and the guy was like "Oh, we're staying here another night, no sense rushing it." That made a lot of sense to me. At around 12000 feet I was stopping every 100 feet for short recoveries and kept falling asleep (I am just a Silicon Valley Sally, what do you expect?). Slavedriver was getting pissed, but he was still pretty cordial, only yelling at me occassionally. I was exhausted, but I was not getting a headache due to my steady diet of Ibuprofen. Somewhere we hit a 15 foot 5.5 climb, and that woke me up, since I was unroped and not quite sure how far I'd slide down the mountain after a fall (It was actually safe, I was just too groggy to realize it). After that I was much more energetic and the climb was easy, what I remember of it. I remember the summit was damn windy, that's for sure. We might have summited around 3:00. I would not advise doing Casaval Ridge in one day unless you are in shape. Especially if you are with The Slavedriver.|
|Posted Apr 24, 2001 4:54 pm|
|Josh||Route Climbed: Casaval Ridge Date Climbed: April 15, 2001|
|Single day ascent with Ryle. 80+ mph winds in places. Forgot sunscreen. Face is not happy.|
|Posted Apr 16, 2001 12:06 pm|
|tbnelson||Route Climbed: Route 1 - Avalanche Gulch Date Climbed: June 25, 2000|
|Summited on a beautiful day around 10:30 AM. Conditions were perfect. I recommend taking a basic snow school with one of the local guide services. Mount Shasta is a great introduction to mountaineering.|
|Posted Apr 11, 2001 8:39 pm|
|mdostby||Route Climbed: Avalanch Gulch Date Climbed: June 1998|
|My first summit of Mt, Shasta was in June of 1998. I love this mountain. I've been back several times and summited three times, all solo. As long as I am able to climb I will return to try the many diverse routes. Green Butte/Sargents Ridge and Casaval Ridge are both outstanding and have been two of my most memorable climbs.|
|Posted Mar 23, 2001 9:42 pm|
|Josh||Route Climbed: Avalanche Gulch Date Climbed: May 1999, and August 200|
|My May 1999 climb was my first time up Shasta, and it was by myself. I started hiking at 3:05 am from the Bunny Flat parking lot, and to my frustration, the snow at the lower elevations had not frozen solid during the night. This made for an unpleasant hour of postholing. Finally, at about 9,000 ft, I reached firm snow. At 7:50, I reached the summit, snapped a few photos, then began the long descent. I got back to my car at 9:59 am.|
My August, 2000 climb was with two other people. Ryle and I reached the summit without any trouble. The other guy we were with didn't do so well.
|Posted Mar 11, 2001 1:02 pm|