Despite the grim weather outlook reported by NOAA and the rangers, our team of five (Claudia H [snow_queen]., Paul B.[number_one], Sarah F.[the_regulator], Jim H.[mountain_dog] and myself [fat_squirrel]) decided to push for Lake Helen Camp on Sunday and hopefully attempt the summit Monday (5/30). We rose above cloud cover at ca. 10,000ft to find blue skies and low wind. Setting up camp was enjoyable, with firm snow that made for great shelter blocks. Eventually, the 30-40MPH winds picked up again shorly after sunset, but died down again sometime around 1:00AM. We departed camp at 3:30AM to find nice, firm conditions and great visibility. We crossed Red Banks via a ramp-like chute relatively close to Thumb Rock. Extreme cold and high wind met us as we topped out, making any long breaks unbearable. We breaked once again in front of Misery Hill, ascended it, and finally saw the summit block shorly before 7:30AM. We were the second group to reach the summit, heading back down shorly after 9:00AM. We were back at camp at around noon, only to find extremely warm temparatures that made for post-holing conditions most of the way down to Bunny Flat. This was perhaps the most challenging part of the climb.
Overall, what a great experience. I would have not made it if it were not for the awesome team that I had a privilege to be a part of.
Climbed with Shauna and Jim via Casaval to 10.5K then traversed onto West Face. West Face snow was good for cramponing. Conditions deterioated with visibility limited to 15-20 feet as we approached base of Misery Hill. Decided to forego summit and descended via one of the Red Banks chutes as due to poor visibility we did not descend to Thumb rock to take the standard descent rte. Recent slides in the Red Banks had scoured the snow down to very firm condition. Required down climbing face in for the first couple hundred feet. A very long and brutal slog traverse of Avy Gulch due to deep soft snow to reach our high camp on Casaval at 9.8K. A lot of recent avalanche activity from the east side of Casaval into Avy Gulch.
Left the comfort of our motorhome at Bunny Flat at 2:00 AM with a nice moon and perfect, clear weather. Our party of 3 (2 skiers and 1 snowboarder) carried instead of skinning The snow conditions are still softer than normal, but still firm enough at that hour for hiking. Anyone not skiing would be advise to take the dreaded snowshoe or risk hours of postholing on the descent - at least now while the temperatures are above normal. There was only 1 tent at Helen Lake when we passed at 6:00 AM. Several soft snow avalanches have run down into Avalanche Gulch from Casaval Ridge - stay to the right while in upper Avalanche Gulch and carry beacons, probes & shovels. Lots of cascading ice particles came down as the sun hit the Red Banks and we were all sorry we didn't have helmets. Summited at noon and had an epic ski descent on velvet corn snow all the way to the base. No wonder Shasta is known as the best ski mountain in North America. I've been skiing it since 1979 and this year finds the best conditions in memory. Glad I had new, fat skis! Passed many parties laboring up to Helen Lake in the tortuous heat - uggh.
Great conditions on the approach on Saturday. We camped above a rock notch on 3100 m. Wind started blowing very hard at 5 PM, and kept on all night. Therefor, we were not able to proceed the next morning at 4 AM as planned. We waited until 8, but the wind kept blowing and the summit had a big cloud around it. Decided to ski down and took off at 9. Snow was a bit too soft already for great skiing, but still OK. Lower on the mountain snow became vry slushy. Beautiful days, next time hopefully to the summit.
Very hard summit day. A lot of snow, kicking steps. No crampons needed. Descent via Avalanche Gulch, very deep wet snow, no fun without snowshoes!! Especially the final slope back to camp on the ridge! Glad to make it before next days rain!!
Great climb. Beware of rockfall...start early before the crowds. Used Sierra Wilderness Seminar guide and it was great.
I and a group of 3 climbers from Red Bluff, California did it in a long day. Camping the previous night at the then-abandoned ski lift base, we awoke at 4 a.m. for our one-day ascent/descent. My most vivid memories of Avalanche Gulch were dodging the seriously dangerous bowling-ball sized stones that came bounding down the gulch at us. Hindsight would have had us bring hard hats, but those were the foolish pioneer days.
Several of us experienced some altitude sickness past 13,000 feet, which was further "enhanced" by the rotten-egg steam emitted from the fumeroles at the summit. A quick lunch, a few pictures, and a couple of unceremonial lunches-in-reverse later, we headed back down the mountain.
The last hour was done boulder-hopping in the darkness with our hearts in our throats. The last 2 hours of our descent were done in severe pain--the constant jarring of my big toe into the front of my boot tore the big toe nail off, and I had my "war wound" of the experience to brag about for the next 3 months.
First mountain scaled over 14,000 feet. A highlight of my climbing career up to that moment!
Also tried Casaval Ridge this winter but the weather turned us down. Will try again in May..
Climbed with Andre. Upper section of Sargeants had poor snow and brittle alpine ice, but otherwise an enjoyable rte. One other climber encountered on rte. Shovel glissade from high camp at base of Sargeants down into Avy gulch. Quick trip down.
I was with another SPer from CA,.
We started the climb around three and caught up with a couple of climbers on the way.
LAter that morning one of them fell and I helped with the rescue of the OK climber, they turned out ot be brothers. One of them didn't make it, and the other was OK.
I did not reach the summit, I had to climb down and take the guy to the city and climb up again to our camp.
Too tired and the mood was down.
I departed North Gate shortly after 1 am with a full backpack for the solo trip. I ascended the lower flanks of the Bolam Glacier, and traversed over to the Hotlum Glacier in between the middle and upper crevace field. The bergschrund near the Hotlum Glacier headwall prevented access to the upper chute, route 11a, so I circumvented clockwise (east) around the exposed ridge and ascended up the next glacial chute, route 12c. The ice conditions were very challenging up on the chute, because it was completely solid, and every step required hard crampon kicks and ice axe swings to achieve a proper bite. The exposed rock of the ridge assisted in securing quality holds as I ascended the ice. As I neared the summit, I chose to move off the ice and climbed the exposed rock ledge instead. To return in similar ice conditions, a belay with ice screw anchors would be a welcome security in the steep upper chute. I set up an alpine camp at 13, 800 ft, near the summit approaches of route 10, near the sulphur springs, which weren’t as odiferous as they are on some other cascade peaks. I completed the decent the following day along route 10, the Hotlum-Bolum Ridge.
Climbed it first time with a camp at Helen Lake.
Second time did it in one day from Bunny flat after driving from the Bay Area same day.
This was my first attempt at climbimg a mountain just to climb it. I've summitted other peaks while hiking/ fishing
Since I am a novice, I had experienced company along with me. Or was I with them? whatever. Our group of four consisted of one climber who has 6 of the 7 summits under his belt (Acancogua has eluded him 3 times due to weather), a Shasta specifically experienced climber (2 dozen or so successfull tries, nicknamed the "Shastafarian"), an Army 10th mountain climber and me the fisherman/outdoorsman/hiker. I figured I was in good company.
We car-pooled up from Sacramento on friday and geared up at the bunny flat trailhead. We then hiked to Horse camp to bivy for the night since we had started hiking at around 4:30 and wanted the rest before heading to camp#2 at Helen lake. The weather was beautifull and the forcast looked good. Upon our arrival at Horse camp I found that my ice axe had worked its way loose from my pack somewhere between our camp and the trailhead. (yes, rookie move I know) The Shastafarian offered to accompany me on my search, which I accepted since the sun had begun to set. We followed our tracks back to the trailhead where someone had left a note saying that they had found it and left a # to call and an e-mail address. I called and left a message and hung around awhile waiting for a return call that never came before hiking back to Horse camp in the dark. I didn't mind the extra hiking and enjoyed the view of the sunset.
(the climber who found my axe took it home for safe keeping TO NORTH CAROLINA! and returned it via mail..........4 months later. would have been nice if he left a note saying that he dropped it off in town.)
The Shastafarian made a call to a ranger friend in the area who advised us to look for another ranger at Helen lake.
The four of us strode off in the morning under clear skies and made lots of ground sheding layers in the warming sun. I marveled at the size of the peak from the trail and although it didnt look like the lump at Helen lake was far off, it seemed to take longer that I suspected it would. It was while i was looking at the scenery that I noticed the scattered puffs of clouds in the west but didn't pay them much mind. We arrived to set up camp in the early afternoon and found the ranger to pick up my borrowed axe. (sweet! I can continue!!)
While relaxing in camp and enjoying the view those little puffs started to gather and darken up as they approached us. It looked loke we might get some weather but I though it was nothing too bad. ( I was wrong) As we were gatting ready for some sleep the wind started blowing, and then it started snowing, and the there was a flash of lightning, then another. I had never seen lightning with snow before, interesting. The weather steadily worsened during the night reachingapprox. 60mph winds and lightning strikes to both sides of the gulch. I wasn't worried since I was with experienced climbers and they weren't worried. i was concerned however when I went out to use the "privacy cave" and pondered the possibility of my demise by getting zapped (I was wearing my crampons) while in that position. (not my ideal way to go)
We awakened to 4-6 fresh inches of loose dry snow and winds near 40mph. The summit was obscurred with clouds and after some discussion the experts decided that we'll come back another day. (even though there was a steady stream of folks headed up into the clouds)The mountain will still be here. I vowed that I'd return and dissapointedly packed up(returned the borrowed axe) after taking a few pictures.
I have plans to head back this June with the Shastafarian and a new group of friends. Weather permitting we'll get to the top this time.
I just want to note that I had a great time even though I didn't summit. My group made the decision to not try to summit in those conditions and I agreed. It was amazing how quick a few little puffs of clouds turned into a blowing, snowing, storm.
First 14-er summit in almost 20 years. Fun. Very sociable crowd at Helen Lake. Went "solo", but there were about 50 on the route that day. Had another climber take my summit pic, but he cut me off at the knees. For all anyone can tell from the pic, I'm standing on a chair in my backyard.
Took 9 hrs up and 6 hrs down, form LA to summit back in LA in less than 48 hrs!
Awesome conditions, great views of Lassen, crowded on the summit for the 4th of July! A great time.
Well, it had to be a fast trip, squeezing between my school and the deadline of when my friend visiting from Iowa, Baker, was leaving. We got to the mountain late one night and slept out on the snow with our mats and bags at Bunny Flat. There was a good snow pack of a few feet already there. The next day we went down to the Fifth Season and rented some snow shoes and an ice axe for Baker (i already had one). Then we headed back up and walked up from Bunny Flat up Green Butte Ridge a bit. Then we went down into Avalanche Gulch and were desirous of going up Casaval, but we were slow moving through the snow (sinking up to my knees occasionally with snow shoes; okay, not all of it was a good snow pack yet). We camped out at about 11,500 feet. At 2 AM i was wanting to start for the summit, but my comrade had some altitude sickness, so we rested longer and got up with the sun and then headed down the beautiful mountain. We were off by 10 AM, got home before 5 PM, and got him to his train to leave by 6:30 PM. No summit this time, but a very enjoyable first time on the mountain with a good friend, and i love the snow. =-)
GREAT mountain - not too tough. Careful while glissading down. Just a beautiful route and we had great weather. Marc Pagani, Christina, Rice, Mark Terry, Steve Chamberlin
A great day to be on Mt. Shasta! It was warm enough to have the rocks falling, but other than that, everything including the weather was perfect. Mt. Shasta has gorgeous views and we took plenty of pictures. The Red Banks are nice too, but it confused me a little, I thought I was close to the summit ;-) I hope to be back some day to try a different route.
seem to have a weather omen on this peak. both
attempts....got turned around at red banks. made the
best of it and had a good time despite the weather.