Mount Shasta, CA


A classic volcano ski and climb of Mount Shasta in perfect weather conditions

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

To prepare for this expedition, we trained for several weeks. We did multiple laps skinning up Shafer Butte, and practiced self-arresting.

It's a long way from Boise to Shasta. We split the drive into two days, sleeping in a campground outside Lakeview, Oregon. The next morning, after a breakfast in Klamath Falls, we finally got our first good view of the mountain. From an elevation of about 1000', Shasta looks pretty big.

We signed in for our permit and drove around to the East side of the mountain.

By the time we got packed and loaded, it was after 1pm. We started a long 4 or 5 mile slog up the road, made the longer by unusually low snow.

To ease the burden, we loaded up a plastic sled, which we dubbed the "angry man" for its lack of cooperation. Somewhere between 6500 and 7000', we found a suitable place to camp. In retrospect, we should have gone higher. But we had heard too many stories about ferocious winds to try to camp above timberline.

We had problems with the stove, resulting in not enough water and a restless night. We got up about 3AM in the moonlight and were soon underway.

Unfortunately, the slushy snow had not frozen and we had to abandon our plans to walk. I was having a bad morning, so the boys left me behind. Its hard to be the leader from the back, so I refueled and watered, and charged up to catch them. Meanwhile, Dave was having a bout of vertigo so had decided to wait by himself for our return.

The effort of catching the boys left me trashed- at only 12500'. I think in this picture, Todd is laughing at me (I'm the one belly-side up, like a dying beetle).


After a rest, I did the leader-thing again for quite a while as we made our way up the mountain, but finally had to ask Tom to bust trail. My legs were cramping. Tom, on the other hand, was in fine form, and I had to pointedly tell him to take shorter steps or he would kill me. Here he models the latest in mountain fashions. The summit is directly behind him, and about 1000' higher (although we did not realize it at the time).
Todd was also in good form, and enjoying the view from high on the mountain. It was beautiful, with only a light wind. But between the warm night and the hot sun, the snow was getting increasingly soft and mushy. This had two effects: we were sinking in a lot, making it very hard work, and the risk of a wet-snow avalanche was increasing by the minute.

I was really having a tough time now, fighting constant leg cramps, and asking Tom and Todd to slow down for me. Consulting my altimeter and looking at the clock, I was concerned that we might have to turn around because we were running late. Fortunately, my altimeter was off by over 800'. After turning a corner and topping the ridge, we joined the main route. We also joined a ton of people, which seemed strange bcause on our route we had been alone on the mountain.

And then we were on the summit.

When we got back to Dave and our skis, we thought the remainder of the trip would be a breeze. But the deep, soft slush was very difficult to turn in. The descent turned into survival skiing, then an endless, difficult slog with no resting.

When we finally got to signs of civilization, Todd was overjoyed.

It was several hours later that we finally got to the car. We were beat, dehydrated, and so tired that we were barely able to drink the beer we had cached.

Mr. Natural Home | 2000 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski