Lightning Couloir

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Route Type:
Time Required:
Most of a day
Steep snow climb

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Lightning Couloir
Created On: Jun 1, 2011
Last Edited On: Jun 6, 2011


I've added this description to clearly define the Lightning Couloir route on Shastina. The route is partially described in the Dennis Poulin's route "Shastina in the Spring", which also describes the standard route via the Shasta-Shastina saddle.

The map shows the Lightning Couloir route in purple and the standard Cascade Gulch to Shasta-Shastina saddle route in yellow.

This route is preferred during late winter/spring ascents when Cascade Gulch acts as a terrain trap and has considerable avalanche hazard. It is climbable until the snow has melted out in late Spring/Summer.

Shastina Lightning Couloir Route


Park at the Bunny Flat trailhead and follow the trail to Horse Camp. From there, take the trail to the left (just west of north) and ascend to Hidden Valley. In snow, route-finding can be difficult between Horse Camp and Hidden Valley. There are three ridges that must be crossed along this segment of the route, aim for the following elevations when passing each ridge: (from south to north from Horse Camp) 8,100 ft, 8,450 ft, 8,850 ft. From the third ridge, head due north to the saddle cut by Cascade Creek. The other side is Hidden Valley.

This is as good a place to camp as any. There are several climbing options from a Hidden Valley Base Camp, including the traditional Shastina route, West Face Gully, Cascade Gulch or Casaval Ridge for ascents on Mt. Shasta.

Route Description

Shastina with route

From Hidden Valley head north up Cascade Gulch, staying to climbers left of the first small ridge. If avalanche hazards are a concern, exit Cascade Gulch below 9,800 feet by climbing west onto the broad ramp leading to Shastina and then proceed directly towards Shastina (yellow line). Otherwise follow the gulch to about 10,400 and then veer left (northwest) to exit the Cascade Gulch (red line). Once sufficiently out of the gulch, the couloir should be visible ahead.

Depending on the amount of snow, the couloir starts anywhere from 10,600 to 11,200 ft elevation. Traverse or climb as appropriate to gain the couloir and then ascend it directly to the exit at about 11,900. The final 400 vertical feet are the steepest, approaching 45 degrees. From the top of the couloir, cross the flat summit plateau and scale the 300-ft nob to the summit.

For variety, descend the traditional route: Shasta-Shastina saddle and return to Hidden Valley via Cascade Gulch.

Essential Gear

Ice axe and crampons.
Descending the couloir

External Links

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Marmaduke - Jun 5, 2011 11:04 am - Hasn't voted


Dennis Poulin not Pulin

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Lightning Couloir

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