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#52905 - 04/16/18 08:53 PM Mt Shasta for late May or early June?
WanderingJim Offline


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 272
Loc: California
So I've been meaning to tackle Shasta and understand that doing it while there is still snow helps in the assent. I'm probably going to do the Avalanche Gulch route.

So is late May or early June too early for Shasta? Is a ice axe needed that early in the season?

Any other advice about doing Shasta?


Alternately, I was thinking of doing the Tahoe desolation wilderness around that time, but again am worried that there would still be too much snow. Mostly following the PCT from the south.
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#52906 - 04/16/18 10:08 PM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: WanderingJim]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7875
Loc: Fresno, CA
For Shasta, the prime time is mid-May to early July. You want the snow/ice to climb on. When it melts, the cobbly talus is awful to try to walk over. I went one year in August--never again!

And by all means, you need an ice axe and crampons. You want to be climbing in the early morning while the snow surface is icy, and so crampons are just the ticket. Coming back down in the afternoon, conditions can be softer, and glissading is a nice way to go.

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#52917 - 04/18/18 05:57 AM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: Steve C]
WhitneyHiker085 Offline


Registered: 05/14/17
Posts: 21
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
How steep do you hike on Mt Shasta? Is the degree of the angle of the slope much steeper in comparison to the snow chute at Mt Whitney (when switchbacks are closed)?

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#52918 - 04/18/18 08:14 AM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: WhitneyHiker085]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7875
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: WhitneyHiker085
How steep do you hike on Mt Shasta? Is the degree of the angle of the slope much steeper in comparison to the snow chute at Mt Whitney (when switchbacks are closed)?

I think the slopes are pretty similar. Big difference, though is that Whitney's is north-facing, Shasta is south-facing. So on Shasta it is more consolidated and icy. I recall crampons sticking, but not even sinking teeth all the way in on Shasta. On Whitney, people are following others' tracks so they don't have to break trail in softer snow.

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#52920 - 04/18/18 09:11 AM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: Steve C]
Willythedog Offline


Registered: 04/16/18
Posts: 9
Loc: Bay Area, Ca
I believe its about 35-40 degrees at the steepest part at the red banks.

I'm pretty certain there is going to be a nice boot track all the way up. (assuming avy gulch route?) It ends up being like walking up a steep staircase. At least that's how its been the past couple times i went up that route.

May- June is prime time so there will be a gang load of people going up the same way.

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#52924 - 04/18/18 02:49 PM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: WanderingJim]
WhitneyHiker085 Offline


Registered: 05/14/17
Posts: 21
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
thanks Steve.. WillieTheDog for inputs.

Yeah, planning on attempting Shasta in the next month or so...via Avalanche Gulch. Not sure what to expect. Did a solo day trip last year and summited Whitney July via the chute and was just wondering how Shasta in comparison. The chute wasn't too bad last year.

Given that there is no real trail on Shasta, not too sure what to expect. Easy to follow though even though no real trail?

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#52927 - 04/18/18 09:31 PM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: WhitneyHiker085]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7875
Loc: Fresno, CA
The lower part from Bunny Flat has a trail -- up to Helen Lk. You will find a mob camped there. From there up, no trail required; it is wide open. Just climb--like everybody else.

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#52928 - 04/19/18 01:47 AM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: Steve C]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 595
Loc: Manchester, NH
I asked a snow ranger one evening when camped at Helen Lake when was the best time to climb Shasta. He said - on average - about Memorial Day. He went on to say the busiest weekend was the 4th of July.

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#52932 - 04/19/18 10:37 AM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: KevinR]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 431
Loc: Reno, Nevada
I agree that Memorial Day is about right – on average. But I’ve seen terrible weather in June. And I once reached the summit wearing no hat or gloves and had to stop at 12,000’ on the way down Casaval Ridge to remove my long johns – in February.

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#52937 - 04/19/18 07:37 PM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: WanderingJim]
WanderingJim Offline


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 272
Loc: California
Are there any good acclimatization hikes in the area? Or good camping spots at altitude?
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#52938 - 04/19/18 08:11 PM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: WanderingJim]
Willythedog Offline


Registered: 04/16/18
Posts: 9
Loc: Bay Area, Ca
When I climb avy gulch I make base camp at Horse camp. Plenty of flat areas, running fresh spring water (basically crystal geyser lol), pit toilets... its at 8k so not too high but can’t beat the accommodations.

For hikes, from horse camp you could head over to hidden valley area (9200 feetish) or go up to Helen lake (10500) if you wanted

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#52955 - 04/23/18 01:14 PM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: Willythedog]
jchapell Offline


Registered: 03/23/16
Posts: 11
Loc: Colorado
Fun discussion topic! We are doing the Mountaineers Route in the week before Memorial day, and Shasta the week after Memorial Day. We've been up the Mountaineer's route before and summitted Rainier a couple times etc., but I do have a couple questions for the knowledgeable crew here:
- We did Mountaineer's Route as a 1 day option, and found that enjoyable for us. Any thoughts on a similar plan for Shasta? I sure like light loads, and avoiding a tent/sleeping bag when possible!

-How much more technical/difficult is a ridge (Casaval/Sargents/Green Butte)? We like aesthetic climbs (and avoiding crowds), but don't want to be over our heads...

Thanks all!


Edited by jchapell (04/23/18 01:22 PM)
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#52959 - 04/24/18 09:45 AM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: jchapell]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 431
Loc: Reno, Nevada
If you’ve done the MR in a day, you should be strong enough to do Shasta in a day. If you’ve done Raineer, you should be technically ready for Shasta. I recommend climbing up Casaval Ridge. The normal route goes left of the crest of the ridge, avoiding lots of crappy rock. You should have plenty of tracks to follow. You can descend either Casaval or Avalanche Gulch or even Sargents/Greene Butte. Be aware that route finding can be tricky on the ridges, and weather can make navigation difficult on Shasta.

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#52961 - 04/24/18 07:10 PM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: WanderingJim]
WanderingJim Offline


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 272
Loc: California
Is there a good site with current conditions on Shasta? (something like the WhitneyZone) I haven't found anything good yet.

I'm just wondering how much of my winter gear I'll have to pull out of my closet (I thought I was done with it after a Yosemite trip at the end of March).
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#52962 - 04/24/18 08:01 PM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: WanderingJim]
QITNL Offline


Registered: 03/03/11
Posts: 26
Loc: CA

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#52963 - 04/25/18 06:58 AM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: Willythedog]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1148
Loc: NorCal
Minor correction there, Willy Dog. The toilets at Shasta Horse Camp are nice composting toilets, not pit toilets. They're typically very clean and function really well without the smell of a pit toilet - better than your average Forest Service campground vault toilet. The spring water there is also amazing.

So Horse Camp is a great first night for those who have time to acclimate and enjoy the accommodations before having to poop in a wag bag and melt snow, especially for a weekend warrior from sea level. If you really want to maximize your odds and enjoy your hike, spend one relaxing night at Horse Camp, then pack up to Helen Lake and practice your self-arrest skills on the surrounding slopes - perfect place for that. Get an alpine start the next morning and join the pre-dawn parade up avy gulch.

The sun rises on the other side of Shasta, which produces a really cool shadow looking east when you turn around and enjoy it. Makes me forget the pain and want to go again.

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#53192 - 05/20/18 05:57 PM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: WanderingJim]
chicagoan Offline


Registered: 02/02/17
Posts: 16
Loc: IL
Mt Shasta summit attempt a few days ago
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKEE_jN31no

I will be there in June 2-4th. This looks very tough

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#53193 - 05/20/18 11:33 PM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: SierraNevada]
wagga Offline


Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 2249
Loc: Humbug Reach (Pop. 3)
Originally Posted By: SierraNevada
Minor correction there, Willy Dog. The toilets at Shasta Horse Camp are nice composting toilets, not pit toilets. They're typically very clean and function really well without the smell of a pit toilet - better than your average Forest Service campground vault toilet. The spring water there is also amazing.

You can always rely on SierraNevada for the straight poop.
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#53273 - 05/29/18 08:31 PM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: wagga]
nyker Offline


Registered: 07/26/12
Posts: 219
Loc: New York
Not sure what the snow conditions are like over the next couple weeks, but assume pretty good coverage.

The steepness resembles the chute on the Whitney main trail, but Shasta is longer and more sustained. There may or may not be a bootpack. There was none when I did it, but the snow was in good condition and my crampons bit well. There were a couple people who tried climbing it in microspikes and one with no crampons, none of them got very far up after the campsites.

Depending on the direction you take up, the steeper parts are at the Red banks and above.

Note also in my photos, the errant rocks all over the place, there is a lot of rockfall there, so bring a helmet, but more importantly, pay attention and listen for anything coming down (ie don't climb in headphones).

Shasta was an awesome climb, but it is a lot of gain in one day.

Below is my report when I climbed it in July a few years back.

https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=16226

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#53281 - 05/30/18 08:33 PM Re: Mt Shasta for late May or early June? [Re: nyker]
WanderingJim Offline


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 272
Loc: California
Well... I survived.

I made it to Helen Lake after a very exhausting slog, but the next day a very strong wind (a bitterly cold wind) was blasting down on the tents at Helen Lake.

I decided that there was no chance for me to get to the summit with that strong of a wind. I was probably right. The reports I heard from people who came down that were that the wind was too strong once they hit the ridge line. It doesn't seem like anyone was able to summit that day (but that was based on only a small number of comments from other climbers).

Despite having planned for an extra night at Helen Lake if needed to try for a second summit attempt, I just couldn't convince my body or mind to stay another day up there.

I regretted that the next day, but it was too late then. frown

Maybe next year with a little more planning and mental preparation for the climb i can go all the way to the top. It was a fairly last minute decision to go up this year, even if Shasta has been on my list since before Whitney was.

Highlight photos:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/wanderingjim/albums/72157695681501261

All photos from this trek (including the highlight photos above):
https://www.flickr.com/photos/wanderingjim/sets/72157667521725277

Oh, I finally was convinced by friends and family to do a blog (of sorts). It really is just an extension of my Flickr photo albums. It does give me a chance to put some of my future treks up as placeholders (Colorado 14ers and Kilimanjaro are the current 'Where I hope to go' entries. Older treks will have to be filled in when I have time. http://wandering.earth


Edited by WanderingJim (05/30/18 08:35 PM)
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