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| | |-+  June 11, 2005, Diller Canyon, Mt Shasta
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Author Topic: June 11, 2005, Diller Canyon, Mt Shasta  (Read 3888 times)
MW88888888
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June 11, 2005, Diller Canyon, Mt Shasta
« on: 07/11/05, 07:34 PM »

[continued from June 10, East Bolam Glacier, Mt Shasta]

Day 64
6-11-05
Diller Canyon, Shastina
Ski Descent: 12,330 (Summit Shastina) - 7,300' = 5,000 VF
Total Climb: 6,300 VF



We wake at 4 am, do the now familiar gear shuffle, and we're starting up the mountain by 5 am.  It doesn't need to be an early start as the western exposure would receive the last light (which provided great climbing in the cool shade), but we couldn't shake our roots and the weather always does seem better earlier in the day.  Ron was feeling better, or at least hid his woes better, but a slow pace would be good for Ron's recovery.  We could even chill on top if we arrived too early and the snow was not soft enough.

We walk the 4X4 road to its end at 7,100' where a faint trail dives into the forest heading toward Diller Canyon.  We negotiate a steep and frozen snow bank which has unbelievable exposure down a steep and rocky ravine, falling would have been very ugly.  Good morning!  Welcome to Diller Canyon!  

Once we hit the canyon we follow the dry water channel up to continuous snow around the 7,300' mark.  Right from the start we need crampons in the still frozen snow.  The slope is steep yet not evil, but is relentless and exposed.  The snow provides the perfect crampon medium, not frozen enough to need hard stepping, or too soft to sink or stick to the spikes.  Soft, yet firm, like walking on a slope of Styrofoam, a satisfying solid 'plunk' with each foot fall.  

We gain altitude quickly and our biggest concern turns to the trajectory of rock fall.  The scree fields above and to the left of the route occasionally launched a piece of rock and send it on the long roll down the slope, funneling it into the slope we now climbed.  We entered a field of stones and could see the possibilities if the rocks were really flying.   We tried to hide on the left margin of the route, out of missile's line of fire, and then worked out onto the right side face to enjoy steep climbing into the crux couloir at the head of the canyon.  Huge chimneys of rock line the sides of the chute above and add to the drama of the area.  The mountain is very quiet.  We see absolutely no one.

At 8:30 am the sun hit the face and the climb went from frozen spike climbing to warm climbing in t-shirt and sunglasses.  The corn machine was turned on.  We each took turns leading, enjoying the bottleneck at the top of the couloir and the exotic terrain of the cauldron.  Talk was of lemurians and gemstones, and soon enough we were all on top at 12:30.  We strolled between the two rock spires of the actual summit blocks, and each of us pretend it was the final pitch on the Eiger, savoring the clank of crampon on rock on the faux mixed route to the summit tabletop. A very rewarding climb.

The day could not have been better, weather-wise.  Absolutely bomber blue skies showed no sign of letting up, now and into the near future.  Our forecast was right!  The views over to the Whitney Glacier route drew new admiration and respect for this choice line on the hit list.  And the view up to the Bolam Ridge confirmed our decision to turn around the day before.  Maybe another year and earlier in the season the route would go, but this year long sections of rock would have barred a good decent off the upper mountain.  And the crown on that slide - yikes!  

Below us, three skiers dropped their skis at the plateau above the South Face chutes into Cascade Gulch, deciding to forgo a ski off the summit pyramid and happy to just tic the summit in boots.  We welcomed them when they arrived at our impromptu luncheon at the base of the summit block, marveling at the fine weather for a summit.  One of the skiers nodded down the route we had come up and smiled knowingly "Diller Canyon, eh? You guys must have been here before."  We chatted and ate our lunch and finally said our good byes, 1:00 pm and we were ready to go.  

The three skiers watched from the summit rocks as we each dropped into the chute just off the summit.  This chute we promptly referred to as Ron's Chute as he was first to suggest and drop in this choice line.  The snow at 12,330' was still very dry and there was about 6" of powder windblown into the narrow chute.  Ron worked steady jump turns back and forth along the skier's right margin of the upper snowfield, then easily skied the crux bottleneck of the chute without a miss.  Bravo!  I went next, finding the snow remarkably winter like with a firm base but fine edging.  Wayne dropped in last and as is his nature, took the most direct line into the chute, requiring mandatory air and the associated powder plume with controlled air time.  It was a fine display.

The next section was very exotic as the rim of the Crater was notched where the Diller Canyon route emerged in such a way that the whole of slope when viewed from afar gave the impression of skiing on the inside edge of a china cup.  The sun cooked the snow nicely on the new exposure, and we had our first taste of corn.  We entered the notch where the crux couloir dropped into the Headwall and the snow changed radically.

Suddenly, on the steep wind loaded slope we mined pockets of June Powder.  Glory!  The smooth turns gave way to more hard pack as we dropped in elevation and Wayne and I wanted to check out the snow on top of the huge wave forming the left (skier's) margin of the route.  The snow on top was very windblown and resisted corning, so we worked our way back out into the center of the bowl.

As we neared the mid section of the Canyon, we came upon two skiers working their way up the mountain, widely spaced.  We skied past them with a wave and were sad to have heard later that it was Amar Andalkar and friend Jeff Huber.  I would have liked to have shook Amar's hand and thanked him for the Ring of Fire website - he proves to me that I am not the only one in the universe with a love for skiing Volcanoes.  We'll see them again, I'm sure, maybe closer to home.  

The skiing on the lower parts of the route are a blast, alternating between a rock slalom coarse to corn fields to frozen ocean waves and surf punk moves.  Finally, after 5,000 VF we take the boards off to exit the water course we had been following.  We could have continued into the trees, but decided to let the ride end in the pleasant sunny shelf where we could take a few last looks at the Canyon around us.  The boards went back on the pack and we shuffled back to the hidden Jeep trail.  We find the snowdrift that created such a stir in the morning was a pleasant stroll in the warm afternoon; much tomfoolery is expressed in contrast to our earlier morning tension.  

When we enter the forest we walk past Amar and Jeff's rigs, proudly sitting at the very end of the Jeep trail where a downed tree bars further access.  All three of us are dumfounded, in awe of the bumpy ride taken by the two climbers - hardcore folks indeed.  Washington and Oregon plates make me wonder...  

The walk back down through the forest and the pleasant meadows can't be described.   I'll whistle a tune for you, the verse goes something like "The hills are alive..."
 
We are back at the car by 3 pm.

The thought of driving north two hours and attacking the 4,000 foot ascent of Mt McClaughlin in the morning began to loose its appeal.  Especially with the not so relaxing drive back down to pavement. Wayne commented that what we really needed was a Chinook Pass-like ascent, right from the snow with little hiking.  

"What about Green Butte, then?" I offered, instantly warming to the idea.  "No drive except to the next campsite, and we can ski right from the car in the morning.  I also happen to know a great spot on the drive up to Bunny Flats to camp."

The plan was approved by all in seconds and 45 minutes later we were back on the pavement of the Everett Parkway.  Fifteen more minutes and we are at our tried and true camping spot off the Forest Service roads on the way up to Bunny Flats.

To our surprise we see no one on the road camping at our favorite spot on the Everett Parkway.  This is a surprise for a Saturday night.  What could be up?  As we are doing the gear drop a couple of groups of mountain bikers ride past in full regalia.  One says, "Camping next to the catwalk" and rides past in admiration or awe, we couldn't tell.  Ron, Wayne and I look at each other - "Catwalk?"  

A little while later, I'm down in the woods taking care of business when I stumble upon a large mountain biking obstacle that was built over the boulders not far from camp.  Bummer!  Now the "Catwalk" comment made sense.  The entrance to the obstacle was a ramp a few feet wide (the "Catwalk") that spanned a deep gorge, which began not 25 yards from our bumper.  I was not very pleased.  This was like a new Golf Coarse being built next to Camp 4 in Yosemite - a sign of the times, yet out of place with the history.  At least our group's history.  There were bikers on the logging roads before, but now our favorite site would be in the direct line of touring bikers.  I was glad for the bikers, the obstacle looked like a blast and I would have loved to have my bike to give it a try, but at the same time I lamented the loss of a private oasis from the crowds.  

We even enjoyed a drive-by by the local Sheriff (with a very nice "Hi and Enjoy!") who might have even been checking for bodies below the new mountain bike jumps!  Sadly, I think the old camp spot has lost some of its former solitude and this might well be its last use as base camp.  Heck, with the new map and a 4WD vehicle, any spot is now game!  I'm already looking forward to finding a replacement.  

The quiet evening was still a quiet evening, regardless of the daytime drama, and we enjoyed fine fare over the stoves.  It wasn't even dark before we were all in our bags.

[continued on June 12, Point 9,360, Green Butte]
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