From camp some prominent cliffs can be seen up slope, and to the left of that is a knoll with some stunted trees. The trail heads up towards the base of the knoll then switch backs up to the left of it. Eventually the trail goes right by a large rock wall which encloses the main bivouac site and would be hard to miss (at least in daylight). There are other, smaller bivy sites as well. By the map I judge the distance up here to be only about a half mile as the crow flies, but my gut tells me that a mile or so would be more realistic. The elevation gain was around a 1,000 feet, and it took me about 2 hours. There are also bivy sites 2 and 3 shown on the map which I referred to in the Overview. These would also be good options; of course, the higher up you go the colder and more exposed it gets.
Most people climb Shasta directly from camp at the spring. Why did I choose to bivouac higher up?
It shortens the actual climbing day, allowing one to go at a slower pace and have more time to arrive back at camp before dark.
It provides time for additional acclimatization.
If you leave for the summit climb before daylight (highly recommended), then the trail from the bivy site is more distinct and easier to follow then the previous section before the bivy.
It provides additional views and photographic opportunities. For example, on the morning after my summit climb there were thick clouds out in the valley below Shasta. There was an opportunity to get a picture of a red sunrise looking DOWN on the clouds. (However, I didn’t think to get up that early - darn.)
At higher altitudes insect pests are greatly reduced, although I haven’t found insects to be a problem on the Clear Creek route anyway.
It provides more of a sense of adventure.
In August, there’s no water above the spring until you get to the summit plateau. I carried an additional half gallon of water up there.
Who wants to carry a backpack up any further than they have too?
Obviously, the additional camp takes additional time, so if you’re time is limited, this is a disadvantage.
The bivouac site is more exposed to the wind. It’s colder and may be harder to sleep up there.
Mount Lassen at 4X magnification. This picture was taken on another trip in August 2012. It was cloudy and smokey then, too.
There is yet another bivy site at the orange rock. Someone has left a pint-sized beer can at this landmark and dampened the ground with the excess beer that he didn’t drink, along with a few fragments of beer-soaked pretzels. There is a chipmunk there who likely enjoyed some of the excess. From here I also took a compass bearing back down the route. It read 120 degrees. Cross country travel on this route is feasible and if you got off the trail it might be an option.
The Clear Creek route description says there are other routes up through gullies in the cliffs above that are also class 2. I chose this route because people in two other parties that I talked to went this way. Finding the way was pretty straight forward. I'm also concerned that the routes through the gullies might be more subject to rockfall, but I can't say for sure since I didn't go that way. If you have an opinion about this you might add a comment to this trip report.
When you top out of this section remember what it looks like for the trip down, as it could be very easy to miss if it’s foggy, or (heaven forbid), getting dark. At this point a distinct trail again ensues until you reach a large snow/ice bowl. You have the option of going directly through the bowl, or skirting around it to the right. If the snow is melted to the point where the bowl consists of somewhat dirty ice, the surface provides a good grip and it’s easy to head straight through it.
Continue beyond the bowl, likely on dry land (in August at least), until you reach the sulfur spring. When I was there I could hear and smell the spring, but I couldn't see any water. It must have been flowing somewhere beneath the surface. On my trip I started up before the spring and reached a false summit, wasting about half an hour or so.
From the sulfur spring you can see a trail switch-backing up the slope to the east and on up to the summit. From the orange rock the distance traveled was maybe about a mile, although again, I’m doubtful as to how useful map distances are. The elevation gain should only have been about 380 feet, although it seemed like more. It took me two and a quarter hours from the orange rock, including some time off route. I arrived at the summit at 1:00PM.
People left quite an assortment of stuff in the summit register box.
When you press the "Easy" button a voice says "That was easy". It cracked me up.
Picture taken at the summit register with the summit in the background.
Pictures from summit area
Going down the scree slope by the glacier was fast and easy. I was able to do a standing glissade. From the summit back to the orange rock took about two hours, including time spent taking pictures.
From the orange rock I missed an intersection about 30 minutes below the rock and went off on a different trail. I went more slowly on this trail, but it still just took two hours down to the “corner” (where the trail skirts the cliffs) rather than the three hours on the way up. As has been said before, there are many trails on this side of the Mountain. There are some nicely graded trails with switch backs that are good for going up. Some trails just go straight up and down the slope and are dirt and scree that some people use to descend really quickly. Personally, I prefer the better constructed and graded trails for ascending and descending, and using them would reduce erosion as well.
From the corner it took one and a half hours back to the bivy site as opposed to two on the ascent. Note that as I was alone I took the descent more slowly than I might have due to safety concerns.
From the bivy it took about an hour and a half back to the spring. From the spring it took about an hour and a half back to the trail head – half the time of the hike in.
The drive back to McCloud is pretty straight forward if you’re traveling in broad daylight, although the way back is not well-marked unless you look at the BACKSIDE of each major sign as you’re driving out. Sticking to the main road and avoiding any smaller side roads is all it takes.
After this trip, your vehicle will be thoroughly covered in orange dust. For a safer and more pleasant trip out to wherever you’re going, I recommend using the coin-operated car wash in McCloud just off of highway 89 on the south side by the gas station. There’s a machine which provides change for$1’s, $5’s and $10’s and $20’s.
Also note that in August there were significant forest fires in the Shasta area producing considerable haze. This was the case in August of 2012 when I was there previously as well. If you desire clear skies and distant views for your climb, better check about conditions with the rangers before coming up.
You need the usual stuff that you should have in the mountains, plus trekking poles. I had three pairs of good REI socks and switched them often. I had hiking/climbing shoes that were broken in and proven on Mt. Diablo. I got away without snow boots, crampons, ice axe, rope or gaiters.
Hike in to spring, “The Meadows” – 3 hours
Hike up to bivy – 2 hours
Ascend to summit from bivy – 7-1/2 hours
Descend back to bivy – 5-1/2 hours
Hike out to trail head – 3 hours
Total hiking/climbing time - 21 hours.
Total elevation gain from TH: Close to 7,800 feet.
Summit Post member dsmith814 in trip report “Mount Shasta via Clear Creek Route” reports that he did the climb in about seven hours and 20 minutes round trip not including bivouac time.
Currently you don’t have to have a reservation to climb Mt. Shasta and there are no quotas. Let’s try and keep it that way. Practice Leave No Trace. Haul out your own trash and be prepared to haul out other people’s trash. Don’t even think of going to the fragile spring area where it emerges from the hillside; get your water down lower where the trail crosses the stream.
Help to avoid accidents. Inform any unqualified people you may meet on the trail about the dangers of climbing. Preventing accidents may help to eliminate a possible excuse for introducing more restrictions on the use of the mountain as well as give you a good feeling for doing the Right Thing.