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| |-+  May 2012 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  May 20, 2012, Mt Shasta, Hotlum-Bolam Route Corn
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Author Topic: May 20, 2012, Mt Shasta, Hotlum-Bolam Route Corn  (Read 1820 times)

Posts: 2

May 20, 2012, Mt Shasta, Hotlum-Bolam Route Corn
« on: 05/21/12, 11:29 AM »

Great day on Shasta Sunday May 20th.  We drove up from the Bay Area Friday night and stayed in Redding.  Drove into Mt Shasta Saturday around 9 am with bluebird conditions.  Ate the requisite "Volcano" breakfast at Black Bear Diner as our pre-Shasta fuel.

We stopped in to Fifth Season to talk about route conditions.  The crew there are very knowledgeable.  Their conditions report is also superb and very detailed ((530) 926-5555).  We were deciding between Hotlum-Wintun (road still not clear 4-5 miles out from trailhead at Brewers); Hotlum-Bolam (North gate trailhead open) or Casaval ridge followed by a ski of the West Face, and eventually decided on the Hotlum Bolam. 

After we arrived at the North Gate trailhead (elevation 7,000) at 12:30 pm, we lashed everything we had to our packs in an attempt to gain 2-3K of vert that afternoon and make the summit day easier.  We ended up looking like the Beverly Hillbillies with packs lashed to packs and skis and boots hanging off every which way in an effort to fit everything and ultimately aborted this and set up our tent in an out of the way spot at the trailhead. 

The weather had called for sunny clear skies all weekend and corn on all aspects, but by 1 pm on Saturday there were clouds and heavy winds at higher elevations.  The peak was completely whited out for most of the afternoon until sunset. 

After fitful sleep, we set off from the trailhead at 2:30 am.  It was warm hiking.  With the snow still around the trail and the little traffic seen by these North Side routes, we were off trail fairly quickly, but continued to work our way up hill.  By 5 am we were cresting the ridge at 9,500' and could see the Hotlum, Bolam and Whitney glaciers in the early light of the rising sun. 

We skinned from here on firm snow up to 11,000' where the route steepens.  As the snow was still fairly hard, we switched out skins and skis to crampons, putting our skis and skins on our backs.  The sun had come out and the sky was gorgeous, but high clouds were moving in and the winds were picking up again ripping around from the West.  We climbed the "ramp" from 11,500 to 13,000 to the top of the "step".  We started getting concerned that the snow would not corn up as the sun was having a hard time breaking through the high clouds and the temps were still cool.  As we started to cross from the ridge out onto the top part of the Bolam glacier we stepped across nasty ice rime which would have been terrible/dangerous skiing, so we elected to drop our skis here at 13,500.  Having said this, when we actually crossed this small section of ice rime, the snow in the top part of the Bolam glacier was wind buffed powder, but we weren't going back at this point for our skis.     

After being virtually alone on the H-B route, we rounded the corner of the Bolam headwall and saw the masses ascending the Avalanche Gulch route.  Great reason to ascend something other than A-G.  It was windy and cloudy at the peak at 10:15 am.  Again we were concerned about the snow quality on the descent.  We ran into Styles and his crew from Shasta Base Camp shop in Mount Shasta.  Great group and very knowledgeable about the mountain and various routes.  They were skiing Hotlum-Wintun. 

We traced our steps back to our skis at 13,500' and waited for 15 minutes as the sun seemed to want to peek out.  As it never did, we clicked in and descended the H-B route.   It clearly had had more radiation than we expected because we had perfect corn from 13,500 down to just under 11,000.  Great pitch as well.  We then skied a gully run out to 9,500' which was variable corn/overdone corn.  We got off our ascent route while descending from here and nearly ended up descending one drainage to the West...  But we also found what is the correct ascent which we had missed in the darkness of our ascent earlier in the morning.  The snow from 9'500' down to 8,500' was perfect corn again and a very fun pitch.  Really nice surprise.  We finally found the trail and skied down to 7,500' where we clipped out and started hiking the rest of the way out. 

Finally back at the car at 1:30 pm, we pulled two beers out of a snow patch next to our tent and toasted a great corn descent on the Hotlum Bolam route.  We met up at the trailhead with the guys and gals from Shasta Base Camp shop and traded route descriptions and shared some beers. 

It's definitely going off up there right now.  Going to be cold this week with some precip from what I have read, but there should be a few weeks of great skiing left.  The North side of Shastina also looked prime.  If we had only had another day...
« Last Edit: 05/21/12, 01:09 PM by Hinmania » Logged

Posts: 457

Re: May 20, 2012, Mt Shasta, Hotlum-Bolam Route Corn
« Reply #1 on: 05/21/12, 02:39 PM »

Awesome. Heading down there in a couple weeks hoping to ski H-W. The road still not being open gives me perhaps false hope that there's plenty of smooth corn to be had by then. Maybe snow this week will recharge things.

Posts: 916

Re: May 20, 2012, Mt Shasta, Hotlum-Bolam Route Corn
« Reply #2 on: 05/21/12, 06:26 PM »

TR's are incomplete without detail of waiting brand of beer..

But love that you got the road less traveled..

"Maybe we should ban hikers from anywhere that there is a potential threat to surface water?"   [courtesy Newtrout, 2011]

"Good for you for getting it and thank goodness I wasn't there with you."  [courtesy mikerolfs, 2014]
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