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| | |-+  May 26-28, Mt.Shasta, Avalanche Gulch
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Author Topic: May 26-28, Mt.Shasta, Avalanche Gulch  (Read 2439 times)
Pete A
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May 26-28, Mt.Shasta, Avalanche Gulch
« on: 06/03/15, 04:35 PM »

Becky and I took last week off and climbed/skied South Sister, Shasta, and Hood… haven’t seen any Shasta TR’s this spring, so I figured I’d post a quick conditions report for that one.

We originally thought about heading to the Hotlum-Wintun side of the mountain, but after hearing of firmish conditions up high and forecasted freezing levels of only 11k, we figured we’d get the best snow just sticking to the south facing aspects of Avalanche Gulch.  Judging by the overflowing trash cans at Bunny Flat and tons of empty campsites at Helen Lake, it looked like Memorial Day weekend had been quite busy, but mid-week we had the place nearly to ourselves. 

Continuous snow along the trail starts at Horse Camp (1.7 miles, 1000vf from the Bunny Flat TH).  Below 9,000ft things are getting a bit bumpy and dirty, but above Helen Lake the snow was smooth and fast. The route up Avy Gulch has an easy boot-pack right up the gut and through the Red Banks…no issues with rockfall at the time.  We summited on Wednesday the 27th and had sunny weather and barely a breeze on the top.  Hanging out up high until noon allowed the snow to soften and we had great corn from the Red Banks back to camp.   Attempting to yoyo in the afternoon heat was only marginally successful…snow was still great but were eager to get back in the shade of the tent.   Went back up to about 13.5k on Thursday the 28th for more laps…more good snow, though a bit firmer due to high clouds.

Skiing out, we followed a dirty snow-filled gully to about 500vf below Horse Camp and then made a quick cross-country hike west back to the trail….my guess is that the gully is already toast by now.

Anyways…plenty of great corn down on Shasta - looking over the top to the east side showed great coverage for Hotlum-Wintun skiing still this season and there were some tracks going down that side from the summit.

pics here (amongst S.Sister & Hood pics):
https://picasaweb.google.com/113589492689912715272/SpringSkiingRoadTripSouthSisterShastaAndHood#










   

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Mr_Burns
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Re: May 26-28, Mt.Shasta, Avalanche Gulch
« Reply #1 on: 06/04/15, 12:28 PM »

Pete- I did your same route up Shasta with friends Rick and Evelyn from Salt Lake and their two kids Torey and Hayden. We summited at about 8:30 am on Sunday the 24th. We did not wait for it to soften and it was very firm from Red Banks back down to camp at Helen Lake. The good news was that by the time we packed up our camp it was perfect corn back to Horse Camp. We counted about 70 tents over Saturday night!
We were amazed at what a beautiful skier's mountain Shasta is, and how easy the access was. Will definitely go back! Also enjoyed all the volcanoes in Oregon on the way home and would like to ski them all. Saw those great pitches around Crater Lake- glad you nabbed those turns!
It was really fun to get out and do something different. Hope to see some Lemurians next time.
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Rob_West
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Re: May 26-28, Mt.Shasta, Avalanche Gulch
« Reply #2 on: 06/04/15, 07:17 PM »

Thanks for the great report Pete. Conditions sound better on Shasta than I had expected. We are heading to Bend tomorrow for both mtn biking and Sisters, but based on your report we may head to Shasta too. Freezing level is high this weekend so Shasta may be the better choice first. Probably a bit more hiking than you had but still not bad-- you think it is still around Horse Camp?
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Pete A
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Re: May 26-28, Mt.Shasta, Avalanche Gulch
« Reply #3 on: 06/04/15, 08:13 PM »



hey Rob, this is what the coverage looked like at Horse Camp on the 26th... I haven't been paying attention to the weather they've had this week, but it seems like one should still be able to get skis on the snow fairly close to Horse Camp. 

the local climbing shop The Fifth Season or Shasta Mountain Guides might be able to give you a more up to date report on the snowline.
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jimw
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Re: May 26-28, Mt.Shasta, Avalanche Gulch
« Reply #4 on: 06/05/15, 02:51 PM »

Nice!  I was also thinking it was weird that there haven't been many conditions reports but I think people have just been too busy getting after it.  I was up there the weekend before and the weekend after you were there.  Snowline is still around 8k as of Sunday, pretty much continuous skiing from Horse Camp on this route.  But I'd recommend traversing across the rocks from horse camp, and following the lookers right drainage up avy gulch instead of the normal climbers left route to Helen Lake.  That avoids the crowds and provides un-postholed snow for skinning.

Some friends went up the Hotlum-Wintun a couple days ago and said conditions were excellent, about 15 minutes of dry hiking from the car before snow.

Getting a good weather window seems to be the trick.  It has been all over the map.

You're right that it was a zoo over Memorial weekend!  The south side parking lot was overflowing, people were lined up parking down the highway.  Helen Lake looked like Everest base camp!  Never seen so many people up there.  I did a day trip there on Sunday, ended up dropping one of the the chutes off Thumb rock down to Mud Creek, then over to Shastarama point and out the old ski bowl.  Definitely one of my favorite ski routes on the mountain.  Didn't see a single person once I dropped in, until I got back to the overcrowded parking lot.

A few pics from that weekend:

Everest, I mean Helen Lake base camp



Clouds swirling in and out around Thumb rock made for some awesome views, and crazy temperature swings.  I had to wait an hour for a visibility window to drop in.



Shastina north side looking fat!

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Mr_Burns
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Re: May 26-28, Mt.Shasta, Avalanche Gulch
« Reply #5 on: 06/05/15, 04:50 PM »

Jim-
Love your photos! Especially that last one of Shasta, that captures the whole weekend.

In the "Everest" photo, to the far left there are two tents up on the snow bank. One yellow, one green. That was us!

I thought we were getting a fairly early start when we woke up at 3. I looked up the mountain and the headlamps looked like I-405 through the Renton S-curves!
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