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Author Topic: 3-18-08 Castle Crag couloirs  (Read 7683 times)
danhelmstadter
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3-18-08 Castle Crag couloirs
« on: 03/19/08, 11:28 AM »

The Castle Crags are a cryptic cluster of granite domes and spires located several miles to the south and west of Mt. Shasta. The Crags top out over 6k, with a close by valley bottom of ~2k, while the granite crags themselves end at about 3.5k before fading to normal slopes. There is a State Park trail which one may access a section of the Crags from, however the lines I scoped from the interstate required a more interesting approach.

After parking my car close to the interstate, I needed to gained access to an old forest service road which would eventually take me within a close vicinity of the Crags.  There was a little shwacking and creek crossing in the first quarter mile, which I found a convenient log, then I soon found remnants of a very old and overgrown 4wd road. There was barely enough snow to don my skis and skins. The road was mostly easy going, a few minor stream crossings, and some on road shwacking through semi-dense new pine growth.

The shwacking around here is frustrating, but nothing compared to the maddening entangled labyrinths of more northerly latitudes - which easily stop the weak of will, and stand as a formidable guard to even the heartiest of determined travelers. However California does host its own appalling leafed sentries - pine and oak scrub forests (including poison oak) which may be thick and sharp.

I soon exited the old decrepit road to a small but defined stream bed which proved easy passage through the oak scrub forest. The stream bed was the only section of my trip which did not have snow. - It was melted out to flattened alders. I soon found snowline again, which was very punchy and holy, so I switched back to skins till the base of the granite crags.

I discovered that the entrance to the couloir was a little tricky and dangerous. I could gain it directly by traversing a 20' patch of exposed wet 55dg snow which lay on sheer granite - or down climb rock, cross a moated water channeled patch of snow, then scramble and traverse rock to the base. I chose the later, a little more work, but in my mind safer than traversing exposed avalanche prone snow.

The base of the couloir was fairly low angled, and bumpy with well aged avi debris. The couloir steepened as it got higher, and the snow smoothed to a pleasing corn texture, however it was ankle deep. Dramatic rock walls surrounding the couloir made for scenic climbing. I climbed and skied the first couloir, then climbed and skiied the second, which was a little higher and somewhat steeper, and had a 60+dg crux... The second couloiur was kind of cool because it twisted and turned in aspect. I chose to ski the sketchy exit slab on the way out, and it was not as wet as I had originally thought.

The deproach went smoothly except for the final creek crossing. I could not find a log, and there was way too much poison oak to go messing about on the creek-side so I waded through knee deep water to reach the far bank. A short hike from there to my camper.









* castlecrags.JPG (42.55 KB, 615x461 - viewed 1403 times.)

* crux_2nd_couloir.JPG (36.55 KB, 387x516 - viewed 1449 times.)
« Last Edit: 08/27/08, 08:36 PM by danhelmstadter » Logged
danhelmstadter
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Re: 3-18-08 Castle Crag couloirs
« Reply #1 on: 03/19/08, 11:28 AM »

...


* my_tracks_in_first_couloir.JPG (64.73 KB, 773x580 - viewed 1503 times.)
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skierguitarist
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Re: 3-18-08 Castle Crag couloirs
« Reply #2 on: 03/19/08, 12:52 PM »

WAY COOL!!!!!!!
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Pandora
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Re: 3-18-08 Castle Crag couloirs
« Reply #3 on: 03/19/08, 02:04 PM »

I recommend skiing powder in Washington, Dan.

Cheesy
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Cornfed
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Re: 3-18-08 Castle Crag couloirs
« Reply #4 on: 03/19/08, 08:40 PM »

Nice--I just climbed out there last fall--trailhead from the same State Park.  Beautiful place--nice 5.6 climb of 6 pitches in a perfect setting.  Never would have thought to ski there--especially with Shasta a mere 10 miles away!
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Telewoman
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Re: 3-18-08 Castle Crag couloirs
« Reply #5 on: 03/20/08, 08:43 AM »

Sweet...! Glad to see you made it over there. Smiley
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David_Coleman
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Re: 3-18-08 Castle Crag couloirs
« Reply #6 on: 03/20/08, 09:26 PM »

Dan - There's lots of powder in Washington like Pandora states, but the avi danger up here is way too high  Cool.  Nice work man.
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telemack
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Re: 3-18-08 Castle Crag couloirs
« Reply #7 on: 03/20/08, 10:04 PM »

I've rock-climbed there but never seen it with snow.  Another creative outing by Dan H.
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There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.
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skykilo
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Re: 3-18-08 Castle Crag couloirs
« Reply #8 on: 03/21/08, 02:57 AM »

Absolutely brilliant, Dan.  Way to overcome the siren song of that POS volcano. Wink
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