Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Mount Shasta/Avalanche Gulch

Stellar Summit of Shasta - with a perfect road trip from Seattle. We had a perfect weather window in between two snow storms.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • We did this  as a roadtrip from Seattle. Amazing road conditions, perfect weather for driving. We spent one night at Klamath falls, one night at Shasta city

The trip iternary was more or less this . We were debating between the ClearCreek route or the Avalanche gulch route (depending on the weather window and we choose Avalanche Gulch route for this trip)

High level trip plan:
Day 1: (Mostly driving) Sunday
1. Start from Seattle - Sunday morning May 1st at 8.00AM - 2 cars x 4 people 
2. Stop for brunch at Vancouver Washington - 170 miles usually 2.5- 3 hours. Stop here at 10-11 for brunch and stretching. Leave potentially by 12.30-1.00PM
3. Drive down to Bend - Spend the night at Bend OR (170 miles;  3-4 hours) or Klamath Falls Oregon (280 miles; 4.5 -5 hours). Reach by 5-6PM - to find a motel and get dinner, rest and sleep.

Day 2/Monday: (Watch for weather and make climbing plan)
1. If the weather window for Tuesday and Wednesday looks good, we'll drive down to Shasta city (80 - 220 miles - depending on where we stay the night)- book a motel for the night. 
2. Get climbing permit 25$ at ranger station and organize gear and rest

Day 3 & 4/ Tuesday & Wednesday: (Start climb and end climb)

Day 4th night & Day 5 Thursday (Rest and drive to Lassen?)
We will stay the night Wednesday night in Shasta city - cleaning up and getting some hot food. Sleep like city people 
Trip report: 
Day 1: We left our luggage at Shasta Inn at Shasta city (where we had stayed the night before) and left to the trailhead after getting breakfast at Shasta bakery. 
We were one of the first cars to arrive at the Trailhead at 9 AM, as we knew the camp site gets packed and this was the first weather window of the season with another snow storm arriving in a couple of days
We had a perfect view of the route from the Trailhead and notice any avalanche dangers we might see. We were also debating to either doing the Red banks or going via the Chutes- from down below it looked like there was still good snow coverage leading upto Red-banks and Thumb rock
The Redbank route via Thumb Rock skirts the Konwakiton glacier (ever receding glacier) which opens a bergschrund later in the season, making the passage treacherous. Plus with the weather window expected to be narrow and the mountain/route expected to be crowded- we wanted to minimize as much rock fall danger, known in the chutes option
As we headed up  - we were getting a steady gust of wind. With no tree cover, we had to duck for cover every now and then to apply sunscreen and huddle away from the wind
Hiding from the wind
Effects of the gusts we encountered as we headed up to camp
Claire heading up a little above helen lakes
We  got to camp at about 12.30PM and started setting up tents. This was the first snow camping experience for some participants in the trip- so it was fun. 
Jackie and Claire setting up their tents
At the campsite- we also saw an abandoned tent - which was snowed in and later learnt that a rescue had happened a couple of weeks ago and the team members had abandoned the tent
Since we were first to arrive at campsite- we got first dibs at getting access to fresh snow to melt water. So made quick work and melted as much snow to fill up our bladders, make some food for lunch / early dinner.
Jackie, Claire, Cameroon and me (Ananth) enjoying a meal
From our campsite - we could evaluate if the Red banks and thumb route would still go
Source of above image : thecloudocean.com
The route we took was imagined like below from camp ground
We had a beautiful sunset the night with all the clear skies. We had to rest up early as I had quickly realized my team was the first one to start the morning at 1AM. 
Day 2: Summit and back to TH
Camp to Red banks - Thumb Rock
We started at 1.20AM , from a 1AM start time. But we were atleast 60 mins earlier than other groups. Which more or less split 10% of the groups going towards Thumb rock and 90% going for the gulch/gullies.
We made to Red banks right by twilight, we noticed that we had to do a steep downclimb on to the other side or do a some lose rock scrambling to get over the red banks. We trusted our snow skills - with high dagger and we downclimbed to the other side and side hilled over to Red banks
Sarah McClellan Downclimbing the snow ramp
I was sweeping, so took the last turn to get down this section. That's me side-hilling on some soft snow to connect back to the group 
The route from the redbanks with some more light 
Beautiful sunrise as we take a good break - enjoying the sunrise 
To Misery hill:
As the name sounds- it was a loooong slog in altitude, with me coughing up and the team waiting up for me. The early start was definitely helping us with the time. We saw a magical shadow of the mountain, as the sun rose up
Me wondering - why do we still have to do this!! The group was very kind to me, as they literally saw me struggling up with altitude
From misery hill -we made up to the Crater view (false summit). From here we could see a clear view of the summit.
We made a gentle stroll, as we saw other groups catching up through the main chute
From here- we had to navigate the icy slopes upto the summit. By now the wind had died down a little, so this worked to our advantage
Summit pictures and views
We were at the summit at 7.30 AM and the last person (me) reached the summit by 7.45AM.
Downhill was un-eventful as we took the Thumb rock on the way back - but kept hearing "Rock" "Rock" "Rock" from the chutes most of our way down. With a lot of parties attempting a one day ascent.
Doing the steep snow section - which we did earlier in the day in the dark. Was super fun to see all of them had confidently done these sections 
Back to the campsite by 10.30 AM - with a clear view of all the tents which had shown up at the upper campsite- there were folks attempting  from Helen lake campground
We packed camp- got in a couple of glissades, burnt ourselves in the sun, post holed a bit and made it back to car by  2PM
We stopped at at our lodge to take a quick shower - lunch in Shasta city and decided to drive back to Bend for a stop. 
A wonderful Road trip - with great people !!