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NWAC Avalanche
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| |-+  June 2019 Backcountry Trip Reports
| | |-+  June 1-2, 2019; Mount Shasta Avalanche Gulch
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Author Topic: June 1-2, 2019; Mount Shasta Avalanche Gulch  (Read 479 times)

Posts: 19

June 1-2, 2019; Mount Shasta Avalanche Gulch
« on: 06/07/19, 07:43 PM »

Rounded up some friends for a climb of Mount Shasta via Avalanche Gulch. Left from the Bunny Flats trailhead around noon on Saturday and skinned up to Helen Lake to camp. On the way, there were several recent loose wet slabs to the west of the route below Casaval Ridge. We watched another slab avalanche right in front of us. A solo climber was descending across this slope and crossed all four avalanche paths and triggered a few long sloughs. I spent most of the hour telling everyone I saw what a moron this guy was. We suspect he had a tent on Casaval Ridge on the other side of the slope, but given the obvious instability of the snow and the size of the avalanches I cannot figure out why he wouldn’t just turn around and descend a safer way.

We camped at Helen Lake and watched thunderstorms all afternoon. We were chased to our tents in the early evening by thunder and monstrous hail. Woke up at 2 and left camp at 3:45. Booted up the slope above Helen Lake. The hail from the night before had blown into patches, making the climb somewhat inconsistent in terms of snow texture.

We left skis and backs at the top of Misery Hill and walked across the plateau and up to the summit block. Spent about 5 minutes taking pictures before deciding to gtfo around 11. Put skis on and away we went! Misery Hill to Thumb Rock was still fairly solid. The skiing got better once we hit the big bowl of Avalanche Gulch. Things still hadn’t really softened up top, so I tried to turn as often as I could on the windblown hail/graupel patches. At about 9000’, we hit perfect spring corn and had about 1500’ of fantastic skiing back to camp.

Snow below Helen Lake was warmer, wetter, and heavier. I caught an edge and took a nice tumble downslope. Ended up with a sprained ligament so no more skiing for me for a while. Hopefully will be back in action in July so I can keep my TAY streak going.

Also, there were a lot fewer skiers than I typically see in Washington. Is ski mountaineering not as cool in California?

* avalanche_Shasta_Jun2.jpg (837.72 KB, 1000x750 - viewed 379 times.)

* descent_Shasta_Jun2.jpg (949.73 KB, 1000x750 - viewed 380 times.)

* skis_Shasta_Jun2.jpg (917.58 KB, 1000x750 - viewed 380 times.)

Posts: 346

Re: June 1-2, 2019; Mount Shasta Avalanche Gulch
« Reply #1 on: 06/07/19, 11:54 PM »

As a Washington skier who intermittently visits CA to ski Shasta, Lassen, and the Eastern Sierra, I have always perceived the ski community in those parts to be strong, capable, competent, and welcoming - but significantly smaller, presumably due to being farther from urban areas.  Shasta is a skier's paradise which can be tricky to catch in good shape.  No surprise with 7.5K of vert on most routes.  Heal fast!
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