Basic Alpine Climb - Mount Shasta/Avalanche Gulch


Basic Alpine Climb - Mount Shasta/Avalanche Gulch

Our Memorial Day expedition was postponed for avalanche hazards... Let's try again... Mt. Shasta's standard route - original group has priority.

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  • Fri, Jun 7, 2019 — Mon, Jun 10, 2019
  • Olympia Basic Alpine Climbing
  • Climbing
  • Basic Alpine
  • Adults
  • Basic Alpine Climb
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 12.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 7,200 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 14,179 ft

Early Friday morning, Olympia

This will be a low-key climb of Mt. Shasta with priority to Olympia and Kitsap climbing students.  Preference would be to take people who have hiked or climbed above 10,000ft. 

Friday, June 7 - We will leave early from Oly and arrive around 2pm, get permits and last minute items, and head to Bunny Flats TH at 6950ft. From there, we'll hike in 2mi and 1150ft to Horse Camp at 8100ft and set up camp. Hopefully, the delicious mountain spring will be running, and we can fill up water bottles. This is also the last toilet, a remarkably well-kept compost toilet.

 Saturday, June 8. We'll get a leisurely start, make the 2300-ft hike on snow to Helen Lake at 10,400 ft and set up our snow camp. We'll melt water, eat, assess the route, organize gear and get to bed early. (Though the sunset is often so spectacular, you'll be torn between sleeping and watching it...)

Sunday, June 9 - Alpine start. Up at 1:30am, out before 3. This route is incredibly steep. We'll hike to climber's right of a rock pile called "The Heart." Avalanche Gulch gains 2400 ft in .5mi to 12,800 ft. This could take 4 hours, up to the Red Banks. Above that are Short Hill and Misery Hill, a 1,000ft slog  known for its howling winds. This can take up to 2hrs if the wind is against us. We bust out onto the summit ridge at 13,800, cross a big field, and switchback up the summit cone to a final catwalk and the true summit. Plan is to summit before 11am. After signing the register, we head down and hopefully the glissade route is ready for action. The 2500 ft back to camp are often glissadable, and what took 5 hours to climb takes 10 min to descend. We'll break camp and glissade about 500 ft below Helen Lake, then walk out to Horse Camp. We can do one of a few things from here - stay at Horse Camp, walk out and camp at the TH, or get a group of campsites north of Mt. Shasta on the way home.

Monday, June 10 - Drive home. Possible showers at KOA or such if we've stayed on the mountain Sunday night. Prepare for holiday traffic. 

This is one of my very favorite peaks. I have summited 3 times and been turned back by weather once. Two summits were on this route. The route is not crevassed, and I've never had to rope up or use glacier equipment, but we'll bring it anyway, as required. (Start training with heavy packs now!) We may want to set protection (running belays) on the steep slope above Helen Lake, or on the exposed trail of the summit cone.  

I'm a slower climber and usually summit in 8hrs on this route. We'll try for a 1000-ft/hr pace to Helen Lake, but may be slower if people are not acclimatized to the altitude.  Also, Memorial Day can be a crap shoot on Shasta. If the weather forecast looks awful, I will think about an alternative, but may not be able to come up with something comparable.

Additionally, we may be able to do a pre-climb team meeting and training in the altitude chamber in Portland (Evolution Healthcare and Fitness) at 14,000ft, plus last minute tax-free OR shopping for the climb on May 19. Working with the Mountaineers on how to list that now.

Leader permission required. 



Mount Shasta/Avalanche Gulch

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

  • The Ten Essentials
  • Mountain boots that can accept crampons (not hiking boots)
  • Crampons
  • An ice axe (not technical ice tools)
  • A back pack (40 to 60 liters)
  • Trekking poles
  • Webbing and accessory cords
  • 3 locking carabiners (rope, prussik, ice ax, extra)
  • 4 non-locking biners
  • Large pear-shaped carabiner
  • Belay device
  • Climbing harness
  • Helmet
  • Puffy jacket and insulated pants
  • Rain jacket and full-zip rain pants
  • Belay gloves
  • Warm gloves or mittens (2pr)
  • All cold-weather backpacking gear
  • Food for 3 days at 7500cal per day
  • Group gear to include stoves/gas, water filters, tents, shovels
  • Home remedies for altitude (we will discuss)
  • Money for permit, gas, food and possible shower after the climb.
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