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Shasta Conditions?

Regional discussion and conditions reports for the Golden State. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the California Climbing Partners forum.
 

Re: Shasta Conditions?

Postby clmbr » Tue Jul 05, 2011 9:14 pm

mrchad9 wrote:
clmbr wrote:I'm going back in a couple of weeks to climb North Fork.

North Fork?

Yes the left side (split) of upper Whitney Glacier.
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Re: Shasta Conditions?

Postby RickF » Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:37 am

Nice pictures Climbr & MtnDonkey, My group (3 skiers + 3 booters) made two attempts to summit last week. We turned back on both attempts.

First attempt was via Clear Creek with overnight gear on Monday, June 27. We got some rain overnight, no big deal until early tuesday morning when gusty winds blew the precipitation under our rain-flys. After everyting got wet; clothes, sleeping bags, etc. we bailed. We rented motel rooms, dried out our gear, checked the weather and re-grouped.

On Friday, July 1st we made a second, single day attempt via Avalanche Gulch. We started at 2:00 a.m., made good progress to 11,000 feet. The rock outcrops at the Trinity Chutes and the Red Banks were coated with rime ice and as soon the sunlight made contact the barrage of rock & ice fall started. (We were all wearing helmets and trying to stay to the right of the gully) Then two members of our group got pelted by rocks. A softball sized rock hit one member's foot causing him to fall and slide a few hundred feet before he could self-arrest. Sunlight was not hitting the snow in the gully yet so the snow was hard & fast. No serious injuries but during the slide both crampons displaced. One crampon came apart and the slide-adjusting bar was not recovered. Although we were at 11,800 nearly past the zone of the worst ice/rock shower we opted to turn around and descend. The silver lining was the fun ski run all the way to parking lot at Bunny Flat.
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Re: Shasta Conditions?

Postby clmbr » Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:08 pm

RickF wrote: A softball sized rock hit one member's foot causing him to fall and slide a few hundred feet before he could self-arrest. ... No serious injuries but during the slide both crampons displaced. One crampon came apart and the slide-adjusting bar was not recovered.

You are lucky no one has got injured. You should always anticipate rock falls but sometimes it's hard to avoid being hit even if you see it.

We had a pretty frequent ice/rock rain in the middle to Red Banks as well and people were constantly calling "rock". It was very enjoying because there were only small particles I called "dust". When I've got hit by a bigger junk of ice, no one above warned me. Fortunately, I wearied double plastic boots and just said "ups".
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Re: Shasta Conditions?

Postby RickF » Thu Jul 07, 2011 1:00 am

clmbr wrote: You should always anticipate rock falls but sometimes it's hard to avoid being hit even if you see it.


Climbr,

We certainly anticipated some rockfall. We had read reports from last year's similar conditions and we had a lengthy visit with the Rangers in town. We were well informed, we had helmets, we were avoiding the center of the gully and we were all vigilantly watching and calling out "Rock" not only to those in our party but the other parties on the route as well. It just got to be more intense than we felt was worth the risk. From around 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. rock & ice was being shed not just from the Red Banks, straight ahead, but also from both the left and right sides of the gully.
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Re: Shasta Conditions?

Postby Hela » Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:53 am

RickF wrote:Nice pictures Climbr & MtnDonkey, My group (3 skiers + 3 booters) made two attempts to summit last week. We turned back on both attempts.

First attempt was via Clear Creek with overnight gear on Monday, June 27. We got some rain overnight, no big deal until early tuesday morning when gusty winds blew the precipitation under our rain-flys. After everyting got wet; clothes, sleeping bags, etc. we bailed. We rented motel rooms, dried out our gear, checked the weather and re-grouped.

On Friday, July 1st we made a second, single day attempt via Avalanche Gulch. We started at 2:00 a.m., made good progress to 11,000 feet. The rock outcrops at the Trinity Chutes and the Red Banks were coated with rime ice and as soon the sunlight made contact the barrage of rock & ice fall started. (We were all wearing helmets and trying to stay to the right of the gully) Then two members of our group got pelted by rocks. A softball sized rock hit one member's foot causing him to fall and slide a few hundred feet before he could self-arrest. Sunlight was not hitting the snow in the gully yet so the snow was hard & fast. No serious injuries but during the slide both crampons displaced. One crampon came apart and the slide-adjusting bar was not recovered. Although we were at 11,800 nearly past the zone of the worst ice/rock shower we opted to turn around and descend. The silver lining was the fun ski run all the way to parking lot at Bunny Flat.


One life was lost during the storm:

http://www.redding.com/news/2011/jul/01 ... mt-shasta/
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Re: Shasta Conditions?

Postby clmbr » Thu Jul 07, 2011 7:08 pm

RickF wrote:
clmbr wrote: You should always anticipate rock falls but sometimes it's hard to avoid being hit even if you see it.


Climbr,

We certainly anticipated some rockfall. We had read reports from last year's similar conditions and we had a lengthy visit with the Rangers in town. We were well informed, we had helmets, we were avoiding the center of the gully and we were all vigilantly watching and calling out "Rock" not only to those in our party but the other parties on the route as well. It just got to be more intense than we felt was worth the risk. From around 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. rock & ice was being shed not just from the Red Banks, straight ahead, but also from both the left and right sides of the gully.

When I said anticipate I meant to be prepared to be hit, not just avoid rocks. Once you are in the mountains, anything may happen regardless how careful or skilled you are. Your approach to this climb and the decision to retreat was absolutely correct, "Summit is not the most important, coming back intact is.” Unfortunately, for some people (not you) summiting is so important that they ignore the efforts and possible complications of the descent. From my observation, most people get in trouble while descending. Generally descending does not require as much physical effort, but climbers are already exhausted and often the weather worsens which leads to a higher probability of an unfavorable event.

* * *

A couple years ago I finished climbing Casaval Ridge and stopped for lunch. The last part of the ridge was quite exciting at that time and required a bit more emotion to stay on the ridge rather than going around. I called home to tell them I was OK, feeling good and happy, having lunch and intending to go for the summit. After I reached the top of Misery Hill I was a bit exhausted and forced to take a break. I've always told people, "Once you get to the top of Misery Hill, there is no way you cannot summit.” However, when I tried to keep going I felt like I was going to pass out. And now I was facing a big dilemma of invalidating my statement. The summit was right there, just a few hundred vertical feet away. All I needed was to just "crawl” to it but would I have been able to return to my camp, 4,000 vertical feet down?

My inner voice spoke to me, "get out of the elevation and get out now.” And I started descending Misery Hill toward Waste Face Gully with no problem. However, once got to the very top of Whitney Glacier I had to ascend a bit and guess what, I could not. I was going to pass out. I had to lie down on the snow for a while to collect myself and try again. Soon after I was going to pass out again and had to lie down on the snow a second time to recover enough strength to keep going. All I needed to do was reach the top of West Face Gully and then start a rapid descent. Under regular circumstances it would be very easy but in this case it was almost impossible. I was aware of one thing: if I stay too long at this elevation I might stay there forever. Once I reached the top of West Face the descent was fast and easy. At the end I was able to climb back up lower Casaval Ridge to get to my tent without any unusual effects.

I want to emphasize this: I had only one symptom; passing out while trying to move up slope which started after taking a break at Misery Hill. No headache, no dizziness, no blurry vision, not even unusual exhaustion. When I was motionless I was completely fine. What saved me? My experience and awareness, not blind greed for the summit.

I always say that mountaineering is a (very) dangerous activity and don't care what other people say about it. There are so many different factors that may turn the most enjoyable trip into a disaster many people would not even think about. Why should they?
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Re: Shasta Conditions?

Postby RickF » Thu Jul 07, 2011 9:57 pm

Hela wrote:One life was lost during the storm:

http://www.redding.com/news/2011/jul/01 ... mt-shasta/


Hela, Thanks for sharing the link to the article. The educated guess was that the woman had succumbed to hypothermia. The Rangers also mentioned that the two people became disoriented and were unable to get back to their camp. We parked very near to where the people in the article were parked. The Rangers also informed us of the recovery mission when we told them we had been up on the Clear Creek Route in the Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday storm. Their car was there before we arrived on Sunday night and it was still there on Tuesday at 3:00 in the afternoon when we left. We didn't see any boot tracks or any sign of anyone else on the Clear Creek Route as far up as the common Base Camp area at 8,200 feet. The article doesn't say when they started their ascent or how far they went. The article is also a little misleading because it says the man returned to his car at the Clear Creek trailhead, but the road was blocked by snow drifts a little over 3 miles down from the actual trailhead. We didn't experience any new falling snow at our relatively low elevation. The Rangers told us that the snow level got down to about 9,000 feet. In my opinion it's harder to keep warm when it's 40 degrees and wet verses 20 degrees and snowing.
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Re: Shasta Conditions?

Postby Hela » Fri Jul 08, 2011 12:00 am

RickF wrote:
Hela wrote:One life was lost during the storm:

http://www.redding.com/news/2011/jul/01 ... mt-shasta/


Hela, Thanks for sharing the link to the article. The educated guess was that the woman had succumbed to hypothermia. The Rangers also mentioned that the two people became disoriented and were unable to get back to their camp. We parked very near to where the people in the article were parked. The Rangers also informed us of the recovery mission when we told them we had been up on the Clear Creek Route in the Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday storm. Their car was there before we arrived on Sunday night and it was still there on Tuesday at 3:00 in the afternoon when we left. We didn't see any boot tracks or any sign of anyone else on the Clear Creek Route as far up as the common Base Camp area at 8,200 feet. The article doesn't say when they started their ascent or how far they went. The article is also a little misleading because it says the man returned to his car at the Clear Creek trailhead, but the road was blocked by snow drifts a little over 3 miles down from the actual trailhead. We didn't experience any new falling snow at our relatively low elevation. The Rangers told us that the snow level got down to about 9,000 feet. In my opinion it's harder to keep warm when it's 40 degrees and wet verses 20 degrees and snowing.

Rick, thank you for your info. They started their climb to Base camp on Sunday and summited on Monday. On their descent the weather got very bad. I know both of them, their capabilities, climbs...that's why it is so hard to accept.
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Re: Shasta Conditions?

Postby RickF » Fri Jul 08, 2011 12:53 am

Hela,

I am deeply sorry about the loss of your friend. It seems that their schedule was one full day ahead of ours. I regret that we didn't cross paths to be in a position to offer some assitance. Please pass on my condolances to friends & family.
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Re: Shasta Conditions?

Postby clmbr » Fri Jul 08, 2011 9:58 pm

Hela wrote:
RickF wrote:One life was lost during the storm:

http://www.redding.com/news/2011/jul/01 ... mt-shasta/

Hela, I'm sorry for the loss of you friend.
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