Good conditions, although it was very windy and cold on top.
Perfect weather, perfect snow, but the beef jerky I brought nearly made my entire bowels erupt. We felt virtually no wind at the top, which was so damn cool. On the way down, we encountered thunder and deteriorating weather (graupel) just past the Red Banks. I walked/slid on foot with ski poles all the way to the parking lot. I've never been so exhausted after a climb like this before. Bunny Flats - summit - Bunny Flats ~ 13.5 hours.
Thanks to Misadventures for keeping the beer cold and the great food at base camp hot.
1st attempt at this altitude and it was definitely a workout for me, the novice. SMG guided us and our whole gang (all 6 of us) were led up from 50-50 at 3:45 am to the summit at about 10:30am. Not bad for a bunch of hackers. SMG ROCKS! Excellent services and well trained guides. Beautiful day, awesome summit, and great people.
Second attempt; glad to have it done! Snowed in the early evening at Helen Lake on the 10th, then cleared up for and icy night. Left camp at 6am; reached the summit at 11:45. Great snow for cramponing. The summit was clear until mid afternoon. Awesome glissade from the Banks to Helen!
Absolutely perfect snow and weather conditions. Longest glissade of my life. Great climb!
There was no one else on the entire North side of the mountain except for our small group of 3 climbers!
What a big, beautiful mountain! Went with a group from Shasta Mountain Guides. This was my 11th Cascade summit and my first guided climb. Turned out to be a very enjoyable and educational experience. I was a little skeptical about a bivy at Horse Camp and having such a long summit day, but the early alpine start seemed to work out well. As we were approaching Red Banks, the weather up high looked really sketchy. However, everything seemed to clear up nicely as we headed up Misery Hill. This proved to be a great climb and a long day (13 hour round trip). Adding to the enjoyment was the fact that this was a weekday climb. On the descent I could see all the weekend warriors heading up the route. Glad we were going the other way!!
If you're from Oregon (or Washington) and looking for Cascade snow, look no further than Mt. Shasta. It still feels like winter/early spring up there.
More challenging than expected but a great experience.
We camped at Helen Lake the night before our summit attempt. Snow storm right at bedtime.
Left at 6:00 AM for the summit. Not many groups heading up. Cloudy around the Red Banks but great weather otherwise.
Two-day ascent, camped at Lake Helen.
Conditions: The snow was pretty nice after the recent snow and deep melt/freeze cycle. Snowshoes not needed here early in the day.
Many smaller avalanches visible, starting slightly below Lake Helen, all the way up to Red Banks.
Clear weather on summit night, the snow was great for crampons, all the way up to the summit, with a few exceptions (large unstable "hollow" ice slabs).
Beware of Red Banks. As usual, there was lots of debris; at 8am or so, lots of ice falling. I was hit in the knee with a small baseball-sized ice projectile, and boy did it hurt! Definitely take a helmet now (a few people didn't). Lots of ice from around 12k to the summit.
Mushy snow on descent.
Great, clear weather, a very fun trip! Despite another horrible case of AMS I still made it, albeit in an un-heroic fashion.
Elena and I started out from Bunny Flat trailhead at 5 AM (late). Headed up Green Butte Ridge to get our share of splendid views that opened up from there. Stayed on the ridge until slightly above Helen Lake, then crossed into Avalanche Gulch without losing elevation (this might not be possible or could be quite difficult in different weather or snow conditions). Elena descended from here by the standard route and I continued up (not a wise decision considering it was already past 1 PM). I got some relief from the scortching heat in the gulch only after I climbed through one of the chutes in the Red Banks. From here on the wind was steadily getting stronger. Clouds started forming. I reached the top of the Misery Hill in a whiteout. Flags really helped me to find my way in this section. I finally scrambled to the summit at 5:30 PM. Obviously, there was no one there at that time. Now the clouds were mostly below me, racing towards me from the west at 40 mph and breaking like ocean waves at the base of the summit block. Every now and then a part of the view would open up on one side or another only to disappear in a split second. It was as if pictures of other worlds were shown to me, flashed before my eyes, vanishing too quickly, before I could discern any particular features. The beauty of this magical display almost made me forget that I should go back. Alas, I could not linger.
The way back turned out to be a lot harder than I expected. Snow in Avalanche Gulch had softened so much that it was impossible to glissade. Post-holing with every step from the Red Banks to Helen Lake required a lot of effort. One of the climbing rangers came up to me to make sure I was OK (they are doing a great job of spotting weary climbers). He told me that splitting up the group was not a good idea and that climbing on so late was a big mistake. I totally agreed with him at that point. He asked me whether I had enough food, water, and extra clothing and allowed me to go on. Below Lake Helen the snow was not as bad, I was still sinking with every step but not quite up to my thighs as before. When I reached the parking lot at 9:45 PM I was completely exhausted. Despite reaching the summit I did not quite feel like a conqueror of the Mountain. I felt humbled in a certain way. The Mountain was kind enough to let me go unscathed. I could have paid a lot more dearly for my case of summit fever. As it was, I just had to apologize to very worried Elena who had been waiting for me at Bunny Flat since 4 PM.
Attempted to climb CR and decided to bail out after finding the bad snow conditions (temps above freezing during the night) and a short, but strong storm cell run through the area during the night May 27-28. Opted to get down from the base camp at 9800 ft. I shall come later in the season.
Skied 100 feet from the summit. Trip Report
Started at Bunny Flat at 1:30 AM, hit summit at 10:00 AM. weather nearly perfect. Got back to car at 2:45 PM after glissading from Red Banks to below Lake Helen.
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!