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#52080 - 09/06/17 10:30 PM The Chute vs Mt Shasta
dustin Offline

Registered: 06/24/17
Posts: 4
Loc: ca
hello there my fellow mountaineers.

This past year I hiked to the summit of mount Whitney via "The chute" on July 4th. My next trip I have planned for next year is the summit Mt Shasta. I'm debating what route to take and was hoping maybe my fellow hikers could give me some information about the routes.

I'm trying to decide between Avalanche gulch and the Wintun- Hotlum ridge route. Id like to take the Wintun-Hotlum route because there's less people, and I hear the risk for falling objects is less than in Avi gulch.

I'm just nervous about the grade of the mountain I'll be facing. The most experience I have on those kinds of slope have been on Mt Whitney's "Chute". Does anybody know how the grade of "The chute" compares to that of the Wintun-Hotlum. I did "the chute" with micro spikes (not crampons), and hiking poles, no ice ax, and had only problems when coming back down via glissade.

I've since bought myself adequate crampons (black diamond) and an ice ax (black diamond). I didn't feel comfortable on the Whitney chute coming down without the ice ax but I'm positive I would have been fine with it. I was just wondering how "the chute" compares to the grade of Avi gulch and the Wintun-Hotlum route. I'd like to do them but don't want to get myself into a situation that's over my head and have it turn dangerous. I realize this is dangerous in its nature, and view myself as a decently safe person when well informed and can plan accordingly.

If anyone who's hiked up Shasta can shoot some info my way it be greatly appreciated!

#52099 - 09/07/17 05:14 PM Re: The Chute vs Mt Shasta [Re: dustin]
Bobby49 Offline

Registered: 07/04/17
Posts: 41
Loc: California
Going up Shasta safely depends a lot on the season. I always led a group up there on Memorial Day so that we could ski the bottom half of the mountain. The top half (Avalanche Gulch) is for ice axe and crampons, but it is not a good place to learn. The top slope of Avalanche Gulch, just below Red Banks, is about 33 degrees. However, it is unpredictable. It might be icy, slushy, or bare rock.

#52100 - 09/07/17 06:01 PM Re: The Chute vs Mt Shasta [Re: Bobby49]
SierraNevada Offline

Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1128
Loc: NorCal
Shasta is like doing the Trail Crest chute for about 4,000 vertical ft. with some flatter stretches along the way. It can be steeper and icy in places, especially just below and through the Red Banks, as Bobby wrote.

The season is over for Avy Gulch, you want to be on snow and its melted out now. This time of year, all the routes involve lots of loose talus that sucks, unless you're good with glacier travel and trained in crevasse rescue. Normally you avoid the glaciers during the typical climbing season.

I really like the Hotlum Wintun route on the backside, but for a first time ascent, I'd do Avy Gulch. You can practice self-arrest skills at Helen Lake with others. Unless you go with someone who knows the backside of the mountain. Route finding and campsite selection are key on the backside.

The info and links below should be helpful. For current conditions, gear, permits, etc your go-to source is 5th Season in Mt Shasta City.

August 22, 2017 at 10:02
Peak climbing season has come and gone on Mount Shasta. Rockfall events have been frequent and snow cover on the mountain has melted off significantly. The Clear Creek, Hotlum Bolum, and Hotlum Wintun routes are in the best shape for climbing at this time. Many people have still been having successful climbs of Avalanche Gulch, but this route is now subject to more rockfall than most other routes. From here on out, rockfall will continue to increase and good climbing will fade. As always, be sure to check the weather before you climb.

#52111 - 09/07/17 09:45 PM Re: The Chute vs Mt Shasta [Re: SierraNevada]
Steve C Offline

Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7481
Loc: Fresno, CA
Last time I climbed Shasta was in August, and I swore I'd never do that again. Descending on that cobbly talus was tedious and not fun. Glissading, or just walking down in snow is so much easier.

#52128 - 09/10/17 09:23 PM Re: The Chute vs Mt Shasta [Re: dustin]
dustin Offline

Registered: 06/24/17
Posts: 4
Loc: ca
great, thanks for the input! I think I may start with avy gulch and then plan another trip for wintun. I only live like 2 hours away so it practically in my backyard. more discussion and information is welcome ill be checking back here regularly

#52144 - 09/12/17 09:28 PM Re: The Chute vs Mt Shasta [Re: dustin]
nyker Offline

Registered: 07/26/12
Posts: 201
Loc: New York
As comments made above, I think its similar to the Chute on Whitney except much longer and on a broader field. I also felt near and above the Red Banks it was steeper in short spurts than the chute was.

The gain for Shasta from Bunny Flats (TH for Avalanche gulch) is over 7000 vertical ft, so plan to start early to make your descent is still on fairly stable snow.

#52186 - 09/15/17 10:23 PM Re: The Chute vs Mt Shasta [Re: dustin]
LindsayN Offline

Registered: 05/21/14
Posts: 11
Loc: San Jose, CA
Background: I haven't been up the chute on Whitney since May 2000, but have been up Shasta multiple times in the last 3 years via Avy Gulch, West Face and Hotlum-Bolam Ridge (but I haven't done the Hotlum-Wintun Ridge).

IMHO: Avy Gulch is similar to the chute, maybe a bit easier if you stay climbers right toward The Thumb and cross the bergschrund above Red Banks. The chimneys through Red Banks are a bit steeper, especially the left one.

If you want a moderate climb without the crowds, hike over to Hidden Valley and climb the West Face (my favorite route on the mountain). It may involve a bit of route finding unless there is a boot pack from Horse Camp to Hidden Valley, but Google maps shows the summer trail if you zoom in and you can grab waypoints off it to help navigation. The camping area at 9200 has awesome views and usually a fraction of the people on Avy Gulch. The summit day is 1000 feet longer than Avy Gulch from Helen Lake but it's well worth it. West Face is less steep if you stay climbers right and then traverse back to the middle - the gully directly up the lower slopes of the West Face is 40+ degrees and can be quite icy for an alpine start. The route joins up with Avy Gulch at the bottom of Misery Hill (13,100 ish). If conditions are right, you can glissade 3000+ feet back down. My June 2016 climb is on youtube

I don't know much about Hotlum-Wintun other than it's rated D2 (same as West Face, while Avy Gulch is D1) and the Brewer Creek TH is often still snowed in long after the south side routes are open.

For any routes on Shasta, check the forecast, carry ice axe and crampons and know how to use them before going above 10K. And like the chute on Whitney, don't glissade unless you've tested the snow and know it's soft (which is usually not before 11am on Avy Gulch/West Face). [off soap box grin ]

Shasta Ranger station, The Fifth Season and Shasta Mountain Guides and Shasta Avalanche Center are all great resources.

If you want to be ultra conservative, do a 3 day West Face climb with Shasta Mountain Guides and you'll learn a lot from their awesome guides.

Good luck and have fun (if it's not obvious, I love climbing Shasta)

#52187 - 09/15/17 10:27 PM Re: The Chute vs Mt Shasta [Re: Steve C]
LindsayN Offline

Registered: 05/21/14
Posts: 11
Loc: San Jose, CA
this year was a LOT better than most thanks to the deep snowpack. It was still possible to use crampons from ~8600 when I climbed it on Aug 9 and there was a lot less summer rockfall than typical.

#52223 - 09/18/17 09:46 PM Re: The Chute vs Mt Shasta [Re: dustin]
PeteK. Offline

Registered: 03/07/17
Posts: 12
Loc: CA
Did Shasta via Avi gully on June 21st. It was full snow from Bunny Flat TH to the summit and back. We started at 4am on nice n crisp snow, summited at mid-day and were back at the car 3 hrs later. The hike/slide down from Lake Helen was very soft and slushy. Stats: 8 hrs up, 3 hrs down for 12. miles RT and 7.5k climb. Great day on the mtn. but as the others have stated above, you need to be in shape and be comfortable with crampons, ice ax and icy terrain challenges plus night navigation.
Strava link:
Hope this helps!