telemark skiingbackcountry skiingPacific NorthwestWashington and Oregonweather linksThe Yuki AwardsMt. Rainier and Mt. Adams
Turns All Year
www.turns-all-year.com
  Help | Search | Login | Register
Turns All Year Trip Reports
Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
03/30/17, 05:36 PM

Support Snohomish County's
Helicopter Rescue Team
 
Trip Reports Sponsor
Feathered Friends
Feathered Friends
Turns All Year Trip Reports
(1) Viewing these pages constitutes your acceptance of the Terms of Use.
(2) Disclaimer: the accuracy of information here is unknown, use at your own risk.
(3) Trip Report monthly boards: only actual trip report starts a new thread.
(4) Keep it civil and constructive - that is the norm here.
 
FOAC Snow
Info Exchange


NWAC Avalanche
Forecast
+  Turns All Year Trip Reports
|-+  2011 Backcountry Trip Reports
| |-+  June 2011 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  June 17, 2011, Mt Shasta, Konwakiton Glacier
:
« previous next »
Pages: [1] | Go Down Print
Author Topic: June 17, 2011, Mt Shasta, Konwakiton Glacier  (Read 5415 times)
Amar Andalkar
Member
Offline

Posts: 1198


WWW
June 17, 2011, Mt Shasta, Konwakiton Glacier
« on: 06/30/11, 07:20 PM »

June 17, 2011, Mount Shasta, South Face, Konwakiton Glacier, and Mud Creek Glacier via Avalanche Gulch

Summary: An outstanding day of sunshine and very light winds on Mount Shasta, with a spectacular ski descent of a fairly remote and seldom-travelled line. An easy ascent via Avalanche Gulch, then skied from the summit and dropped down the South Face in excellent corn, onto the Konwakiton and Mud Creek Glaciers and continued partway down Mud Creek Canyon to 9300 ft. Skinned back up the Mud Creek Glacier to 11100 ft near Shastarama Point, then dropped into the Old Ski Bowl and connected across Green Butte Ridge back to Avalanche Gulch. A big day, about 9100 ft of ascent with 100% of that skiable, in mostly great snow conditions.


(click for double-size version)

View of Mount Shasta from 12 miles SSE in McCloud at 3300 ft, showing the South Face and Konwakiton Glacier at center.
(photo taken May 5, 2011, but snow coverage on the upper mountain changed little over the next 6 weeks to mid-June)



Details: Ironically enough, this trip began as an attempt to ski Mount Rainier's Tahoma Glacier, via the traverse from Paradise. The Rainier forecast as of Wednesday looked good for such an attempt on Thursday-Friday, June 16-17, promising sunny skies, light winds, and freezing level near 11000 ft. So four of us were ready to leave Seattle at 6am Thursday morning, with overnight packs and gear all set. But the forecast had trended slightly downhill in each category over the previous 24 hours: less sun, more wind, lower freezing level. Taken together, this made an attempt on the Tahoma Glacier an unfeasible plan in my opinion, not worth the large effort required given a less-than-ideal forecast, and I reluctantly pulled the plug at the last minute before we left town.

But meanwhile, the forecast on the Cascade Range's other 14er located 500 miles to the south still looked great: high winds on Thursday would diminish to near-zero even at Shasta's summit on Friday, according to data gleaned from the high-res UW weather model, with full sun and and an 11000 ft freezing level. It looked like ideal conditions to ski the South Face and Konwakiton Glacier, which I had skied once before in near-perfect corn conditions in May 2009 (no TR written that time).


View of Mount Shasta from about 15 miles northwest along county road A12, connecting I-5 and US 97. The summit towers over 11000 ft above this point.

Out of our initial group, only Dave Brown could join me in the new alternate plan: spend Thursday driving 550 miles from Seattle to Mount Shasta, climb and ski it in a day Friday, then ski something else nearby on Saturday and Sunday before driving back to Seattle on Sunday evening. We took a leisurely drive from Seattle, including the scenic detour along county road A12 connecting I-5 and US 97 to get some spectacular photos, ate a nice meal at the Pizza Factory in Weed, and settled in for the night at 6950 ft Bunny Flat just after dark. Still about 6-8 ft of snow at the trailhead, which is normally completely bare ground by mid-June.


Heading out in the chilly morning from Bunny Flat.

Awoke at 5am and skinned out just after 6am, with the entire south side of the mountain still in shadow. The snow had frozen solidly overnight, and ski crampons were helpful as the terrain steepened above 8000 ft in Avalanche Gulch. The intense sun soon warmed things up considerably, and by 9am as we passed snowcovered 10440 ft Helen Lake with its numerous tents, Dave was getting too hot.


Skinning up Avalanche Gulch near 11000 ft above snowcovered Helen Lake.

We skinned up to about 11500 ft, where the increasing steepness and firmness made cramponing on foot preferable. We cramponed up the south edge of the Gulch, on perfect styrofoam snow which was a joy to crampon up, and ended up following the edge of the upper Sargents Ridge above 12500 ft.


Approaching Thumb Rock (12923 ft, right) and Red Banks (left).

This area has a number of very steep couloirs (50+ degrees) which drop off the southeast side of the ridge and down onto the Mud Creek Glacier, and a couple of sets of ski tracks had dropped in there recently. These couloirs are among the steepest skiable lines on Shasta, and are only practical in very fat snowpack conditions.


Looking down one of the steep couloirs off Sargents Ridge near 12600 ft, with Mud Creek Canyon extending far below.

We took a brief rest break at the 12800 ft Thumb Rock saddle, beside the bergschrund at the upper edge of the Konwakiton Glacier. We switched back to skinning just above this point. An amazing but brief optical display could be seen just after noon in the wispy cirrus clouds to the south: the standard 22-degree solar halo and a segment of the rarer circumhorizon arc below it, which lasted less than 10 minutes before fading and then vanishing.


The 22-degree solar halo (top) with a segment of the circumhorizon arc below, with Thumb Rock at bottom and Lassen Peak on the horizon.

The snow above 13000 ft was exceptionally smooth this time, much smoother than the last time I had been up here on May 4 (when it was mostly hard sastrugi with fins of clear water ice), and among the smoothest I've ever seen it up there. A pleasure to skin up, or to ski. We continued on skins via an angling traverse up the southeast flanks of Misery Hill, staying on smooth snow the whole way by avoiding the broad bootpack directly up the hill, and across the summit plateau. We made it to about 14000 ft partway up the summit pinnacle, before the snow got firm and rough enough to force a switch to booting the last bit.


Skinning across the summit plateau, with the 14162 ft true summit at right and 14040 ft west summit at left.



Topped out at 1:30pm, with winds of only 5-10 mph and temperature of 28 °F. Great to enjoy very pleasant weather on such a notoriously windy mountain. Skied down a little after 2pm, firm snow on the pinnacle, softening nicely across the plateau and over the roll onto the South Face. Near-perfect corn conditions on this smooth 35-40 degree face. This was my first time skiing on the new Volkl Amaruq, which I'd just purchased two days earlier to replace my damaged K2 Baker Superlights (link to older thread with info). They easily carved beautiful big GS turns in the sweet corn.


Corn on the summit plateau below the summit pinnacle.


Dropping down the South Face, with the Konwakiton Glacier and Thumb Rock behind.

We cut right through a gap onto the Konwakiton Glacier itself, and followed it down to around 10800 ft, just above some large cliffs. Just stunning skiing and scenery.


Dave ripping turns past seracs on the Konwakiton Glacier.


Smooth arcs in corn down the Konwakiton, with Mud Creek Canyon below and Lassen Peak on the horizon.

We decided to extend the run down into Mud Creek Canyon, even as the snow got dirtier and studded with fallen rocks. Continued down to 9300 ft where the snow got too dirty to be worthwhile, and then skinned back up after a short break.


Skinning back up Mud Creek Canyon past our ski tracks.

The ascent back up the Canyon and Mud Creek Glacier was in the intense sunshine of mid-afternoon near 4pm, and progress slowed in the blazing reflector oven of the glacier's cirque. The 1800 vert of skinning took nearly 2 hours, but we were not in a rush.


Skinning across the Mud Creek Glacier.

We reached the part of Sargents Ridge west of 11135 ft Shastarama Point which separates Mud Creek Glacier from the Old Ski Bowl after 5pm. We quickly found a nice spot to drop into the Bowl on nearly continuous snow, with less than a ski-length gap.


(click for double-size version)

Three-shot panorama of the Mud Creek Glacier from Sargents Ridge, with Point 11267 at center and Shastarama Point at right rear.

The Old Ski Bowl is the only part of Mount Shasta which is open to snowmobiles, and even now in mid-June there were a handful of sleds visible far below in the bowl. We dropped on in some mushy snow at first, which quickly became pretty good soft corn as we angled rightward to reach the snowy gap in Green Butte Ridge above Point 9572 which connects nicely back to Avalanche Gulch.


Looking down southwest across the Old Ski Bowl from Sargents Ridge, with Avalanche Gulch extending beyond Green Butte Ridge.

More sweet turns on the west-facing slopes here on the side of the Gulch. Eventually, the snow below 8000 ft became mushy and slow, and we schussed along the bootpack out the winding gully exiting Avalanche Gulch. Back to the car just after 6pm, almost exactly 12 hours since we had left.


Sweet turns even at nearly 6pm in Avalanche Gulch.

A tremendous day on magnificent Mount Shasta, skiing a scenic remote line which gets only a tiny fraction of the ski descents seen on the more obvious and popular routes on the mountain. The 9100 vert on the day was my most so far this year, and I was pretty much beat afterward, even though Dave seemed barely tired. We enjoyed a very nice (if slightly spendy) meal at the Wayside Grill at the south end of Mount Shasta City, while trying to figure out what we should ski the next day. But the glow from this descent would last many days into the future, and our impromptu trip down from Seattle had been totally worthwhile even if we skied nothing else.


(click for double-size version)

Telephoto view from the scenic viewpoint on SR 89 east of McCloud, showing the South Face, Konwakiton Glacier, and Mud Creek Canyon with our ski descent route marked.
(photo taken May 5, 2011, but snow coverage on the upper mountain changed little over the next 6 weeks to mid-June)




FORECAST FOR MOUNT SHASTA RECREATIONAL AREA
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MEDFORD, OR
236 AM PDT FRI JUN 17 2011

TODAY...SUNNY. HIGHS IN THE MID 60S TO LOWER 70S. NORTHEAST WINDS AROUND 5 MPH SHIFTING TO THE NORTHWEST THIS AFTERNOON.
TONIGHT...MOSTLY CLEAR. LOWS IN THE LOWER TO MID 40S. NORTHWEST WINDS 5 TO 10 MPH.
SATURDAY...SUNNY IN THE MORNING THEN BECOMING PARTLY CLOUDY. HIGHS IN THE MID 60S. NORTHWEST WINDS 10 TO 15 MPH.
SATURDAY NIGHT...PARTLY CLOUDY. LOWS AROUND 40.
SUNDAY...PARTLY CLOUDY IN THE MORNING THEN BECOMING MOSTLY CLEAR. HIGHS IN THE LOWER TO MID 60S.
MONDAY...MOSTLY CLEAR. LOWS IN THE 40S. HIGHS 65 TO 75.
TUESDAY...CLEAR. LOWS IN THE 40S. HIGHS IN THE 70S.
WEDNESDAY...MOSTLY CLEAR. LOWS 45 TO 55. HIGHS 65 TO 75.
THURSDAY...PARTLY CLOUDY. LOWS IN THE 40S. HIGHS 65 TO 75.

  TODAY        TEMPERATURE   /   WIND (MPH)   
 6000 FEET         62        /     NW  5
10000 FEET         42        /     W   5
14000 FEET         26        /     NW  15

  SNOW LEVEL FORECAST

TODAY............ 10700 FEET
TONIGHT.......... 11400 FEET
SATURDAY......... 11000 FEET
SATURDAY NIGHT... 9900 FEET
SUNDAY........... 8800 FEET


« Last Edit: 07/01/11, 12:00 PM by Amar Andalkar » Logged

daveb
Member
Offline

Posts: 162


Re: June 17, 2011, Mt Shasta, Konwakiton Glacier
« Reply #1 on: 06/30/11, 07:53 PM »

Great trip Amar!  Glad we got such great turns & visited Mud Creek Canyon. 
Logged
Jeff Huber
Member
Offline

Posts: 771


Re: June 17, 2011, Mt Shasta, Konwakiton Glacier
« Reply #2 on: 06/30/11, 10:46 PM »

Nicely done and glad you missed the wind too. Two days earlier at Helen Lake I recorded wind gusts on a handheld wind meter of 46MPH. All climbing parties were turning back (including us).
Logged

mick_scott
Member
Offline

Posts: 123


Re: June 17, 2011, Mt Shasta, Konwakiton Glacier
« Reply #3 on: 07/01/11, 12:08 AM »

Great images!
Logged

BUSHWACK AND....
alecapone
Member
Offline

Posts: 793


Re: June 17, 2011, Mt Shasta, Konwakiton Glacier
« Reply #4 on: 07/01/11, 08:03 AM »

I think I see a nipple! Wink



Logged

scott
tobae
5Member
Offline

Posts: 20


Re: June 17, 2011, Mt Shasta, Konwakiton Glacier
« Reply #5 on: 07/01/11, 10:46 AM »

amazing place, and lucky you.  How do you like your new skis?
Logged
Amar Andalkar
Member
Offline

Posts: 1198


WWW
Re: June 17, 2011, Mt Shasta, Konwakiton Glacier
« Reply #6 on: 07/01/11, 11:53 AM »

Oh yeah, thanks for asking Tobae. This trip was my first time skiing on the new Volkl Amaruq, which I'd just purchased two days earlier (link to older thread with info). I guess I forgot to mention them in this TR, since almost two weeks have passed since the trip before I wrote the TR, and I now have 8 days skiing on them. The new Amaruq certainly started off in style, with their first turns coming from the summit of Mount Shasta!


First time touching snow for the new skis: 6am at Bunny Flat. Unfortunately, I forgot to take any pictures of them on the summit or while skiing down.

The Amaruq has skied great so far. I've only skied them in nice corn and overly-softened mush, both of which they handle well. No ice yet (except while skinning), so I can't comment on the hard-snow performance or edge-hold. Although I expect those to be excellent based on my several prior Volkl skis. I'd like to take them to Timberline soon this summer and yo-yo icy frozen groomers (which soften into nice corn by mid-morning) just to get a lot of vertical on them quickly, and learn how they do in firm conditions before encountering that in a critical spot someplace. The 8 days so far (2 of which were very short days, 2 others fairly short) have only totaled about 30,000 vert of skiing, which I could get in a few hours at Timberline.

I'll edit the TR above to add a sentence about the new skis, for posterity.

Logged

Pages: [1] | Go Up Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  



Login with username, password and session length

Thank you to our sponsors!
click to visit our sponsor: Feathered Friends
Feathered Friends
click to visit our sponsor: Marmot Mountain Works
Marmot Mountain Works
click to visit our sponsor: Second Ascent
Second Ascent
click to visit our sponsor: American Alpine Institute
American Alpine Institute
click to visit our sponsor: Pro Guiding Service
Pro Guiding Service
Contact turns-all-year.com

Turns All Year Trip Reports ©2001-2010 Turns All Year LLC. All Rights Reserved

The opinions expressed in posts are those of the poster and do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of Trip Reports administrators or Turns All Year LLC


Turns All Year Trip Reports | Powered by SMF 1.0.6.
© 2001-2005, Lewis Media. All Rights Reserved.