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Author Topic: September 1, 2005 + Previous Trips, Mt. Shasta, CA  (Read 1754 times)
johnnyutah
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September 1, 2005 + Previous Trips, Mt. Shasta, CA
« on: 11/01/05, 07:14 PM »

Sorry for the late reports

August 30 - September 1, 2005 Hotlum-Wintun Ridge Mt. Shasta, CA

Standing atop the Hot-Tun snowfield on the east side of Shasta, I clicked into my skis and was ready to rock.  It was a first for me skiing into the later months of the year and it seemed surreal, some construct of my imagination.  Through the summer I watched as friends hung up their skis and made the transition to lighter-weight, more technical ice and general mountaineering trips.  I said I would do the same but every time it was time to go I couldnt justify leaving the boards behind.  I really dont like walking down mountains especially when I could be skiing.  Glissading is a sport in itself but skiing is just more fun.  In fact even really shitty skiing is often more desirable than walking.
   It wasnt great skiing overall on sept. 1 but it was decent in places, and good enough overall. From 12,700 to 10,000 the skiing was unbroken and soft with variable surface consistency from smooth to large runnels and cups lower.   Not a bad way to say farewell to the mountain after a great summer of skiing.

The following are some days that stood out skiing Shasta during the summer of 2005.

Second week of May, 2005 Trinity Chutes, Avalanche Gulch, Mt. Shasta, CA

After a very snowy beginning to May the pack finally entered a freeze-refreeze cycle through the higher elevations.  I departed Bunny Flat at 430am on a beautiful starry night, the snow was hard and travel was fast. Went up the moraines and passed Lake Helen as the sky began to shed its darkness with a stunning glow.  The regular stair case right of the red banks was in and made for easy going.  On the summit at 1030am clouds started to come into the mountain and slowed the warming slightly. I worked my way down to the top of the Trinities (left of left of heart route in Avy. Gulch) and scoped lines for an hour letting them warm before committing to a chute just skiers left of center. The first couple hundred vert. were in a steep and narrow sub-chute that funneled into the one of the more distinguishable shots with a tad less pitch. The conditions were fantastic, wide open, fast, smooth, and carve-able.  The Trinities ski about 2900 vert. from 13300 to 10400 with a pitch close to 45 deg. mellowing with distance to around 30 deg. Just above Lake Helen, a classic descent. Cheap beer tasted great at the car!

Snow continued to pound upper elevations of Shasta in May (12 ft. at 10000) and into June (6 ft. at 10000) with brief moments of spring skiing in between.

June 1st-ish, 2005 Diller Canyon Mt. Shastina, CA

Late in the Afternoon I left my truck at the end of the shitty access road just south of Diller proper.  I made sure to plot a GPS point at the car, as there is otherwise no point of reference in the expanses of Manzanita and firs. I climbed up the drainage south of Diller and west of Cascade where I made camp at 9200.  My approach followed a ramp of snow that snakes up toward Shastina like a sickle before widening out into the upper slopes around 9000. The formation seems like a lava swath that now shelters snow similar to those on St. Helens or the north side of Shasta. Alone and at camp with no previous tracks present I realized that I forgot something very important, a pot.  After a lot of cursing and contemplation I began boiling water in corner of my avi. shovel quickly finding a disadvantage to a shovel with emergency dead-man holes in the center of the blade. Precious water would leak out like an over flow in a sink.  Fortunately I had enough cold foods to suffice for the night and with a lot of patience I was back on track and ready for bed.  I began hiking at 630am atop a weak freeze from the night. For the first 2500 ft. I post holed at least 6 inches and as deep as my knees going out of my way to walk on scree.  Thankfully the snow higher had frozen deep enough to support my weight and facilitated travel.  At the summit by 1030am I decided that I wanted to ski the more southerly facing, northern slopes of Diller and set a counter clockwise skier traverse around the crater to the slopes.  Still early I had to wait until 1230pm for the sun to make an impact.  The skiing turned out to be excellent with carve able snow on all but the very upper reaches.  The fall line was about 2500ft., the longest in the canyon, with another 1500ft. of run out.  The slope starts at around 45 deg and spends much of its vert in the mid 30s before it merges into the valley floor.  The GPS proved to very helpful finding the car as I hadnt climbed what I skied

Second week in June, Sargents Ridge-Mud Creek, Thumb Rock Couloir (first descent?) Mt. Shasta, CA

Departing Bunny flat at 500am I was swearing my head off by 530am unable to get purchase with my skins, sliding out in the trees on lower Green Butte Ridge. I am not a morning person and when the wrong things happen on the wrong morning things can prove difficult.  The hard freeze worked to my advantage higher on the mountain and climbing went smooth once I was above tree line.  Upper Sargents was still filled in enough to still be great climbing and I closely eyed my tentative objective below- skiing down to Helen after a summit. After side hilling on the Avi. Gulch side under the large rock fins that dominate the ridge crest I finally gained the crest of Sargeants Ridge proper.  Weeks previous I had taken photos of the southeast side of the mountain from 89 and noticed a very steep slope, just down ridge of Thumb Rock, that ran into Mud Creek splitting towers of rock on either side. Standing atop this slope I now saw that it ran all the way to the Mud Creek Glacier unimpeded, I just wasnt sure how easy it would be to traverse to skiers right back to Shastarama Point or if that was possible.  So I continued up the ridge toward the summit and at 1000am at the base of Misery hill I decided it was time to ski in to Mud Creek if I was going to do so.  Abandoning the summit attempt in order to optimize the skiing on the easterly slope into Mud Creek I started back down to the area just below Thumb Rock.  At 1045am I decided it was time to ski even though the top and steepest section were still very hard. I wanted to leave enough time so that I could skin up the Mud Creek glacier to the top of the Old Ski Bowl without getting pelted by rocks.  It turned out that only the top 100ft. vert. were hard but edge-able and the rest was superb skiing, best all summer by far.  The slope resembles an hour glass and is about 50 mellowing to 45 deg. in the first 1000ft. vert. at this point the line splits the rock towers on either side and resembles a couloir for a couple hundred vert. then opens out into a large apron. A third of the way down the apron I began traversing hard skiers right and was able to make it all the way to Shastarama Point without skinning.  The ski down the Old Ski Bowl was also very good with lower elevation but more southerly (later sun) aspect.
   No one really skis in Mud Creek for it is a Mouse Trap of a decent that puts you a long way from nowhere if taken to its fullest extent.  However, the Mud Creek Glacier provides an excellent escape from the upper reaches of the canyon.  There are also two other steep snow slopes that come off the top of the clear creek route, very close to the summit, that drop into Mud Creek and are huge, perhaps 4000 vert, again the Mud Creek Glacier exit would be possible.  All of these routes avoid the steep and broken Konwakitun Glacier.  I strongly believe that Shastas finest skiing is entirely neglected here.

July 15, 2005 Hotlum Glacier Route, Mt. Shasta, CA

With 110 deg. heat projected in Redding we started our ascent at 200am from Brewer.  We followed the Hotlum-Wintun Route to 10500 then cut under the lower Hotlum icefall onto the Hotlum Glacier where our group of three roped up.  In an S pattern we weaved through the stunning icefalls. The route was in great shape; crevasses didnt pose a problem with no evidence of sagging snow.  Unfortunately the route didnt freeze very hard and post-holing knee deep was an issue in certain places (kinda skechy). Nearing the shrund we opted to climb the left most chute left of the huge  rock headwall atop the glacier at 12800. The chute just to the right of it, against the headwall looked a tad more direct but far more exposed to rockfall.  The shrund was mildly spicy with thinner snow covering it but nothing a quick belay couldnt handle. The climb up the chutes is fairly steep, 45 deg., and goes straight to the summit in 1200ft. vert.  We climbed passed some blue ice, which was worrisome for the decent and summited at 1030am.  Skiing down, two of us opted to ski the steeper chute that we didnt climb nearest to the headwall.  The descent proved to be great steep skiing and the worrisome blue ice actually softened, had free water in it, and was edge-able!  The skiing remained very high quality to about 11500 where it became quite penetrable and wet but still was very fun for there were no other tracks.  We maximized the ski able snow down low and only walked down about 250 vert. on dirt.
   I was totally blown away by the Hotlum Glacier Route's quality as a ski route.  The Hotlum has what the Hotlum-Wintun lacks, 100% fall line skiing with no traversing in the middle of the run.  Not to mention the top of the route is steeper skiing that leads you on a fall line tour through three icefalls on the glacial expanse below.  WOW, easily my favorite route on Shasta!

« Last Edit: 11/03/05, 08:38 AM by johnnyutah » Logged
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