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Beautiful SHASTA Current Conditions

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Re: Beautiful SHASTA Current Conditions

Postby mrchad9 » Fri Dec 13, 2013 11:55 pm

Well I don’t suppose anyone is looking for a conditions update this time of year, so I guess this is somewhat more of a trip report…

Last Monday after waiting out the worst of the cold storms in Mount Shasta I decided to give December an attempt as part of my effort to climb Shasta in every calendar month of the year (December was the only month I hadn’t climbed it in yet). Spent a few excellent days relaxing in the warmth of Bubba Suess’ place. This… not the climbing… was the highlight of the trip.

Regardless, at 6:30 AM I began dragging my butt up the mountain. As you can see, the forecast on Monday did not look good. But this was no surprise, and it was far better than the previous few days. -38 deg wind chill!

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Though I had wanted Green Butte, I selected Avalanche Gulch solely for the likelihood of being out of the wind for as long as possible. Nothing else was really a consideration.

And I originally wanted to start early, but determined it was better to hike in the dark in the warmer evening than for hours before sunrise. And if I had to turn back I at least wanted to see some of the mountain. I nearly did turn back within an hour, my hands had gotten too cold from lacing my boots up, I was tired, and it was just generally unpleasant. Still, I managed to push on until at least sunrise, and nearly turned back again before forcing myself to at least go to Helen Lake. I knew then I might be in too deep.

Myself a bit after sunrise. I was beginning to feel better, but wasn’t having a great time.

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I then made it to Helen Lake, which was now a frozen pond. I felt ok until I got to 11,500 feet when I took a break and my hands again got too cold. Thought I was done but eventually managed to warm them back up and push on. It was becoming more of a physical challenge than a mental one at this point… which was probably good.

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Looking down from 13200 or so at the Red Banks and Thumb Rock. I went left of The Heart, again not based on terrain conditions but solely to avoid as much wind as I could.

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Then finally up Misery Hill and the view of the summit plateau. I had been wearing 8 layers since reaching 13,000 feet, and 4 layers on my hands. I knew if I needed to tie a shoelace or take a leak that would be it… no way I could do that in my mittens without taking them off, and if I had to remove them I might as well start heading back down.

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The summit plateau was a solid ice sheet. No snow was blowing at all as it had already been removed from the mountain. Most of what was visible was remaining from last winter, with a bit of very windpacked snow from the last storm.

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The sun began to set as I was on the summit, though I made it to Helen Lake before it got dark. The walk out was brutal… cold, dark, and frozen pebbles on the talus than only gave way once you depended on your weight being on it.

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But it was a successful summit! Good to get this one in the bag, and a good challenge both physically and mentally. My thanks to Bubba Suess for this one… even though I was solo on the mountain I certainly wouldn’t have made it without his help.

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Re: Beautiful SHASTA Current Conditions

Postby mountainsandsound » Sat Dec 14, 2013 12:43 am

Nice. Congrats on reaching your goal. I have some free time 1st week of Jan- was thinking of heading down there with my brother for one of the ridge routes maybe. But Shasta is hurting for some snow.
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Re: Beautiful SHASTA Current Conditions

Postby Bubba Suess » Sat Dec 14, 2013 1:44 am

mrchad9 wrote:But it was a successful summit! Good to get this one in the bag, and a good challenge both physically and mentally. My thanks to Bubba Suess for this one… even though I was solo on the mountain I certainly wouldn’t have made it without his help.


I am not sure I did anything to help but I am happy to offer whatever assistance I can! Seriously, we were impressed with your endurance. By all accounts, that was a miserable climb but at least you can check December off of your list. Be sure to give me a holler when you head up this way again!
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Re: Beautiful SHASTA Current Conditions

Postby jibmaster » Sat Dec 14, 2013 8:32 am

Ha! Nice report! Excellent pictures.
Man, I miss that place. Haven't been up there since April.
Nice job.
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Re: Beautiful SHASTA Current Conditions

Postby mrchad9 » Mon Dec 16, 2013 4:39 pm

Thanks for the comments and feedback everyone! I suppose looking back the trip as more pleasant memories than what I experienced at the time... still... I am not planning any future December assaults! Looking forward to some warm spring days though! Maybe a cool March trip. Glad folks enjoyed the writeup.

Yeah early Jan might be pushing it for having snow. I've done Sargents Ridge snow free and really it wasn't too bad at all... pretty solid talus but it wasn't a snow climb. It's the decent that can be brutal. When I went there was enough in Old Ski Bowl to boot glissade down, but at least so far this year that is not the case. Casaval Ridge, on the other hand, does not appear to be something I'd want to try without good snowcover.
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Re: Beautiful SHASTA Current Conditions

Postby mountainsandsound » Sat Dec 28, 2013 1:41 am

Any of you Shasta-ites have recent pics or know about road access on the north side? I was contemplating heading down there next week (from Seattle) if the high pressure system up here doesn't hold.

Looks like the ridge routes we had considered are straight up talus now, was thinking possibly the Whitney since it looks like it is low on the talus factor (and who wouldn't want to climb the longest glacier in CA?). I'm guessing it would be exposed blue ice right now.
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Re: Beautiful SHASTA Current Conditions

Postby Bubba Suess » Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:17 am

I have not been on the north side for a few days but I reckon you should not have any problems with the roads. We have only had one good snow thus far and it blew away rather quickly as Mrchad9's images indicate. The north side has retained more snow than the other sides but not so much that you would have trouble with the roads. I am heading over to Ash Creek Butte in the next few days and I can post a more up to date report when I get back.
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Re: Beautiful SHASTA Current Conditions

Postby jibmaster » Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:43 pm

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Re: Beautiful SHASTA Current Conditions

Postby Jarpup » Sat Jan 18, 2014 12:28 am

Great update, MrChad. Thanks for posting it. Glad you didn't lose any digits. 80mph? Ouch.
I'm heading that way at the end of February and I'm praying to the snow gods for better conditions. Can't believe how little there is on the mountain right now.
Thanks again. Great info!
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Re: Beautiful SHASTA Current Conditions

Postby clmbr » Sat Jan 18, 2014 6:03 pm

Well, well done Chad. I always say "mountaineering is suffering." I had similar conditions on Mt Whitney years ago, except there was a lot of snow and I camped on the ridge (and had no water for 24 hours).

Congrats for you achievement. You survived! Just imagine if you got hurt... That's the spirit!!!
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Re: Beautiful SHASTA Current Conditions

Postby mrchad9 » Sat Jan 18, 2014 7:13 pm

clmbr wrote:Just imagine if you got hurt... That's the spirit!!!

Lol.

As I was descending past Helen Lake I thought about just that. Frozen scree on talus made for unstable footing. I imagined if I so much as broke and ankle that would be it. Help wouldn't arrive till first light unless I could get to reception. And making it through the night would have been unlikely. No shelter or snow for a cave. I had a space blanket, but not sure how far that'd have gotten me.

Regardless I'm glad it's done!
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Re: Beautiful SHASTA Current Conditions

Postby clmbr » Thu Jan 23, 2014 4:00 pm

So what are the conditions on North/East/West sides of Mt Shasta? How glaciers look like? What is the snow quality and where it starts. Are THs accessible by cars?

Someone must have attempted the other side of Shasta recently.

Bubba, did you check? I think it’s time we finally meet in person (if you don’t mind). :D

Thanks in advance
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Re: Beautiful SHASTA Current Conditions

Postby Bubba Suess » Fri Jan 24, 2014 2:05 am

Things are not looking good on the south and west sides. We got a bit of snow a little over a week ago but, as has been the case with every storm thus far, the wind scoured the south side clear. However, the north side is in much better shape, though I doubt it is very deep, a few inches covering everything is all. As for the east side, I have no idea. I have not been over that way for a month now.

I am sure the roads are fairly clear. The biggest issue is going to be ice. I went up on the Goosenest in my jeep a couple of week ago and ended up in a bit of a pickle going back down. What looked like snow on the road going up was just a thin, powdery veneer over several inches of ice. Going up was no problem but going down was rough. On a pitch of road that was a couple hundred yards long I ended up sliding about 70 yards in my jeep before I was able to arrest its progress. Obviously those conditions may not exist on Mount Shasta but it is something to look out for.

As far as meeting up, I am always here. My schedule is a bit erratic for the next two months but I am still around. Feel free to give me a holler whenever.

Just for reference, here is a shot of Shasta after the most recent storm a couple of weeks ago:
Image

Most of this snow has all blown off. It is pretty much just packed into the gullies and such now.
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Re: Beautiful SHASTA Current Conditions

Postby clmbr » Fri Jan 24, 2014 5:07 am

Well, I’m not sure what to do then. Where is the snow? Perhaps I will wait.

As of meeting up, don't worry, I'll not bombard you.

However, I have to say again I like your pics of Mt Shasta. Good eye and timing!

Thanks for the report and would appreciate any extra info if something new comes up.
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Re: Beautiful SHASTA Current Conditions

Postby yosemiteforlife67 » Sat Jan 25, 2014 6:35 am

Hey mrchad9, i love the pics and report. I am planning on attempting Shasta for the first time in June. I was planning on taking one of the "easier" routes (clear creek).....but depending on conditions in the next few months, I am not sure how much snow may be up there. What are the chances of any substantial amounts of snow on the east side by then?? I was also possibly looking at the west face gully. What do you think , as far as routes for a first time shasta climber? I have done mt whitney , half dome, and some local peaks (lake tahoe) like Pyramid, freel and tallac. I mainly hike as opposed to climb though.
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