Shasta's Avy Gulch 5/26/07
Shasta Avalanche Gulch (AG) day hike (14,162’) 5-26-07
On the drive up Hwy 5 from Irvine to Mt Shasta City on Friday (5/25/07), it was around Sacramento that I realized that I had forgotten to pack my crampon, D’OH! But luckily I could buy or rent crampons in Redding (Hermits Huts) or Mt Shasta City (Fifth Season). I bought some G10s which worked great for the whole weekend.
Got my permits at the Mt Shasta ranger station in Mt Shasta City and then headed up to check out the Bunny Flats trail head. I hiked up to Horse Camp (~2 miles) to help become a little bit better familiar with the trail and check out the historic Sierra Club Lodge. Then hiked back down, got dinner in Shasta City, checked out the Fifth Seasons store, and headed back up to Bunny Flats to car camp.
Got started from Bunny Flats at 3am on a very comfortable morning and immediately tripped over a tan rock in the tan dirt and was down on all fours in the first 15’ from the trail head, D’OH #2. I was hoping this wasn’t some bad omen for the rest of the day.
Filled up on water at Horse Camp (4am), then passed right by 50:50 camp in the early morning darkness, and got up to Lake Helen camp around 5:45am. Because of the good boot track, I didn't need crampons until after Lake Helen. Put on the brand new G10 crampons (had to take the price tag off first ) and then headed up with about a dozen folks strung out next to the Heart. Went through Red Banks via the 1st chute left of the Thumb area. Red Banks near the Thumb is almost completely dry and all the loose rock can be accidentally kick down the long slope near the Heart with all the traffic. The rangers are advising people to take one of the chutes and avoid the hiking towards the Thumb and all the exposed rocks.
Got to the top of Red Banks ~7:30am, then headed north along the final ridge line to the summit plateau and finally got to the summit at 8:30 (5.5 hours from the car). I could smell the sulfurous odors from the steam vent near the summit. It was very mild on top with warm temps ~50F, very little wind, and clear weather that allowed one to see Lassen Pk to the SE and McLoughlin Pk to the north in Oregon. A fantastic day on Shasta summit with everyone on top in great sprites and having a great time. One guy brought a little portable HAM radio and was talking to someone down in Vacaville.
After spending about an hour on top, I headed back via the same route. I got to glissade most of the Avy Gulch from Red Banks to below 50:50 camp, probably ~3000’ of glissading and boy’O was my butt sore . Saw lots of folks (at least 100 folks) heading up to camp at either 50:50 camp or Lake Helen camp. I noticed a lot of folks were wearing big’ol plastic boots. I’m not sure why people need Plastic on the Avy Gulch It’s not much different, cold or technical than doing 2 Baldy Bowls back to back. Maybe they are getting ready for Denali or something. My Montrail Torre GTX boots worked just fine in these spring conditions. Anyhow, I finally got to meet Wingding as she was heading up just above Horse Camp. We chatted for a while and then wished her success on her ascent on the next day. At Horse Camp there were dozens of people milling around and soaking up the bright Shasta sunshine and good mountain karma. Finally got back to Bunny Flats ~1pm to an absolutely jam packed packing area with dozens of more people getting ready to head up the mountain. I didn’t count, but I estimate there must have been several hundred people between Bunny Flats and Shasta’s summit. A very popular mountain on Memorial Day 2007.
Left Shasta City after lunch and headed down to Bishop to meet my nephew (Marty) to do some climbing the in Sierras. What a great Memorial weekend in the making.
Car to Car Hiking, 3am to 1pm, ~10 hours
Montrail Torre GTX boots, ice axe, crampons helmet, 2-liter Camelback hydration pack, food, headlamp, camera, sun hat, sun glasses, sun screen, lite down jacket, gloves, and Summit permit (the rangers did check my permit as I was heading down just below the summit)
Snow conditions were frozen in the morning and after ~10am the snow was soft enough for safe glissading.
Another great day in Shasta with lots and lots of company.
Here are some photos
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