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Novice. Attempting Shasta solo this wknd(j11). Need advice.

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Novice. Attempting Shasta solo this wknd(j11). Need advice.

Postby azzy » Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:48 pm

Hello guys.

I want to ask a few questions regarding Shasta to increase my chances of success, and decrease the chance and degree of misery. I have been mentally and physically preparing myself for this trip for a few months now and it's safe to say that for me there is no turning back. Here is my background:
I am a 24 year old male.
I have never climbed above 7000ft.
I am in decent shape, run and hike somewhat frequently, and did a hike up to Yosemite Point with relative ease (~3050ft elev gain in 4 miles).
I have pretty good endurance, and if need be I will keep moving until I am quite literally unable to do so.
I have never used crampons or ice axe, but have watched many videos on the use of these things, and I am not planning to go up without practicing self arrest on the slope first.
I am planning to solo-climb the avalanche gulch route with an overnight camp at Lake Helen.
My tackle:
One person free-standing Eureka tent, sleeping foam, 20F rated bag, some synthetic underlayers, some training non-cotton underwear, Yachting waterproof wind-breaker (stole from my dad ;), ski-glasses, wool socks, and other obvious essentials such as a stove, propane, map, etc.. I am renting an ice axe, boots, and crampons from fifth season.

My concerns: I am planning to stack layers rather than get a parka. Those things are retardedly expensive and I am a broke college student (how banal I know). Will I be able to go without it with just my windbreaker shell jacket (it has a hood), and 3-5 layers of synthetic clothing? Can I rent a Parka? Do I need it considering the forecast?

I have no car. I will have to find a ride to the trailhead. Is hitchhiking a viable option? Taxi? Shuttle? How can I get to the trailhead (and possibly back)?

What are the most likely reasons I may not succeed, or my blindspots? How likely is mountain sickness? I am planning to spend the night before the hike at the trailhead to acclimatize.

My biggest fears are: freezing (but from what I understand the weather should be great), post-holing (exhausting and most likely to result in my failure to summit IMO), getting an inadequate food supply, either too heavy, or too unbalanced (any advice in this area would be appreciated as well). Such as what would be the ideal food-pack for 3 days 2 nights.

Here's the weather forecast for Shasta if that helps you answer my questions:
http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/mfr/TextProduct ... fr&pil=rec

Thank you for all the advice you guys may or may not give me ;)

I am originally from the east coast and this is my gap year traveling so I may not get a chance like this in a long long time which is why I am so committed.

Once again thanks.
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Re: Novice. Attempting Shasta solo this wknd(j11). Need advi

Postby Deb » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:42 pm

troll...........are you serious?!
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Re: Novice. Attempting Shasta solo this wknd(j11). Need advi

Postby azzy » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:59 pm

yeah what's the problem?
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Re: Novice. Attempting Shasta solo this wknd(j11). Need advi

Postby Steve Pratt » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:01 pm

Where to start...

Staying at the trailhead and then at Helen will probably be good enough to minimize the altitude sickness, but having never gone above 7000 feet there's no way to know how you'll do. BE VERY ALERT to any uncomfortable symptoms - headache, nausea, unusual fatigue, unusual breathlessness - and DO NOT be quick to attribute them to some benign cause. If there is any possibility you are getting altitude sickness, assume the worst and go down... immidiately.

Having summitted Shasta multiple times, I can say it is a very enjoyable climb. It is also very forgiving, as big mountains go, and is a good mountain to learn the craft. But "forgiving" assumes you are travelling with a buddy. Going solo eliminates any margin for error. If you are going to all the trouble to come all the way out to Northern CA to do this thing, maybe hook up with a guide or at least find a climbing buddy on-line or at the trailhead. You are not going to be alone on Avy Gulch this weekend, so forget any romantic ideas about a "solo" climb. As long as you are going to be around hundreds of people, you might as well find a buddy who will keep an eye out for you.

I have a feeling you will get plenty of feedback about your plans, so I won't comment on the rest of your post. But remember that, even though you have only a small window to try this, the mountain isn't going anyhere. You can always come back again another time if it doesn't work out.

PS: please try another Cascade volcano as a warm up on your trip. Mt. McLoughlin or South Sister are not that far away and will give you an idea of what you might expect on Shasta (and are worthy, if less famous, objectives in their own right).
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Re: Novice. Attempting Shasta solo this wknd(j11). Need advi

Postby azzy » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:19 pm

Thank you Steve,

That's actually why I feel somewhat comfortable doing a solo climb this weekend, because there will be other people there. I don't want the mountain to myself or anything geo-erotic like that. Other mountains are kind of out of the question since I have been researching and preparing for this particular one all this time. I can't even imagine abandoning it now, though if the going is tough I am sane enough to turn around once already on the slope. I am athletic and have been involved in sports pretty much since the age of 6, and not a newbie to snow. I am a pretty good skier and kind of heartbroken that it would be too much hassle to ski down rather than glissade.

Again, thanks.
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Re: Novice. Attempting Shasta solo this wknd(j11). Need advi

Postby mstender » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:56 pm

Did you ever use crampons and iceaxe before? It's a good thing to know how to use them.
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Re: Novice. Attempting Shasta solo this wknd(j11). Need advi

Postby azzy » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:06 pm

No. I'm gonna practice on the mountain.
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Re: Novice. Attempting Shasta solo this wknd(j11). Need advi

Postby Marmaduke » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:18 pm

azzy wrote:Thank you Steve,

That's actually why I feel somewhat comfortable doing a solo climb this weekend, because there will be other people there. I don't want the mountain to myself or anything geo-erotic like that. Other mountains are kind of out of the question since I have been researching and preparing for this particular one all this time. I can't even imagine abandoning it now, though if the going is tough I am sane enough to turn around once already on the slope. I am athletic and have been involved in sports pretty much since the age of 6, and not a newbie to snow. I am a pretty good skier and kind of heartbroken that it would be too much hassle to ski down rather than glissade.

Again, thanks.


I consider myself a novice as well. I am an excellent skier though. I am in pretty darn good shape. I have hiked an easy route through snow to 13K (Dana) in late October. I just hiked in near white-out conditions with wind gusts to about 60 mph and overnight temps in the high teens. This was only a 10K foot summit. There is no way I would attempt Shasta solo and you should not be relying on the fact there might be other climbers on the mountain that day. Those climbers don't want their day ruined because a novice climber makes naive decisions. I want to climb Shasta as well but I will do it once I'm more experienced or at the very least have a fellow climber with me that has the experience. I do not mean to be disrespectful but you are playing with your life and maybe others, with your decision.

Troy
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Re: Novice. Attempting Shasta solo this wknd(j11). Need advi

Postby Marmaduke » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:22 pm

azzy wrote:No. I'm gonna practice on the mountain.


I think it is now apparent that he isn't serious.
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Re: Novice. Attempting Shasta solo this wknd(j11). Need advi

Postby kevin trieu » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:51 pm

where's the Chief when we need him?

you should go for it. just know when to turn back. you can't get experience by sitting on the couch. just follow the headlamps. don't follow the ones flying down at a high rate of speed, those you should avoid as they are climbers falling from Red Banks down to Helen Lake. good luck!
Last edited by kevin trieu on Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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azzy

Re: Novice. Attempting Shasta solo this wknd(j11). Need advi

Postby azzy » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:54 pm

I am truly serious. I am planning to camp at horse cabin or helen lake and go up a bit and practice self-arrest on the slope. I will not be relying on anyone to babysit me. In case there is someone else there that wants to hook up and climb, that's cool. Or in case something does happen to me, someone will be able to report it. That's all. I am bringing all my own gear and not relying on anyone to regulate my decisions. I have modeled my gearlist after the REI gearlist, so I'm not missing anything essential. If I get sick or tired, I am going to turn around. I looked at the weather forecast and it looks GOOD. Almost perfect. I understand conditions change rapidly and that means I must make hard decisions such as turning around. I do understand that this trip is risky, and the purpose of this post is to minimize that risk with help of some tips. Yes, this is a risky move for me, but I want to live, not merely exist. Thanks.
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Re: Novice. Attempting Shasta solo this wknd(j11). Need advi

Postby JasonH » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:10 am

azzy wrote:Yes, this is a risky move for me,


And for whoever will have to rescue you IF something goes wrong.
I have a demon in me - Stu
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Re: Novice. Attempting Shasta solo this wknd(j11). Need advi

Postby norco17 » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:21 am

I think basicaly what people are trying to tell you is don't go. Statisticaly what you are doing is not safe. Yes their are exceptions I tought myself to rock climb, but looking back I realize how lucky I am to have made it through some of the shit that I did. It is possible and probably nothing will happen to you, but you should choose a less comitting climb for your first climb and you should go with someone else not solo (this would help eliminate many risk but the one I will mention here is someone to help you get down in case you have a reaction to altitude).

A class/guide is not really necesarry for doing what you are trying to do (many on here will probably disagree with that) but what you are lacking is experience and you need to gain that a little at a time not all at once.

Also what many on here object to is that you are putting other climbers at risk. You are making them more exposed to rock/ice fall and avalanches. You are possibly slowing them down exposing them to more risk, and worst of all, if and when you do hurt yourself, they are the ones that will be rescuing you. In which case you are exposing them to many other risks that I am not going to waste my time listing.
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Re: Novice. Attempting Shasta solo this wknd(j11). Need advi

Postby Marmaduke » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:22 am

kevin trieu wrote:where's the Chief when we need him?

you should go for it. just know when to turn back. you can't get experience by sitting on the couch. just follow the headlamps. don't follow the ones flying down at a high rate of speed, those you should avoid as they are climbers falling from Red Banks down to Helen Lake. good luck!


LOL, I'm heading to the East Ridge of Russell this weekend then, I'll use your logic Kevin. :wink: :P
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