Ascent of Mount Shasta on 2017-06-03

Climber: Tobias Flach

Date:Saturday, June 3, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Shasta
    Elevation:14162 ft / 4316 m

Ascent Trip Report

Great trip with the Seattle Mountaineers.
After moving away from Seattle to the Bay Area I barely got any climbing done but lucked out on this one since it's fairly close-by. Drove up Thursday afternoon and stayed at a Motel in Shasta City. Met the other 7 of the party at the ranger station then drove up to Bunny Flat. We talked a bit to a ranger at the trailhead who suggested we leave our snowshoes behind since the path to our camp destination (Helen Lake) was fairly well-worn. We departed around 10am following the boot paths.

It's pretty straightforward to get to Helen Lake (essentially follow the easiest path uphill). There was some postholing on the way which was at times unpleasant, but nothing too bad. We arrived at camp around 2pm. It was fairly busy already but there was ample space for our tents and bivies - previous campers dug out some nice sites with good wind protection. We spent the rest of the afternoon melting snow and making dinner and decided to hit the blankets early (I think around 6pm). And just to reiterate other trip reports: There is no lake! So you definitely have to melt snow for water.

We set our alarms for 1am since there was a chance of thunderstorms after 11am in the forecast. But even though I went to bed early I got barely any sleep. Camp was awfully noisy until about 10pm (I had a neighbor walk in and set up tent around 8pm and then spend two more hours doing chores...). Anyway, I probably got an hour of sleep until the alarm rang. Got up and ready but didn't eat anything which in retrospect was a poor decision. I had trouble with staying energized all the way to the top, even GU gels were hard to chug. We left camp around 1:45am and followed the headlamps of climbers who left earlier than us as well as the glissade chute as the obvious way to the top of the Red Banks. One party member had to return to camp shortly after we left camp and I saw a surprising number of other climbers return as well (from parties that started earlier). The climb to the Red Banks is grueling. It doesn't level at any point and there are not good spots to take a proper rest break. Because of this we only took short breather breaks on our way up. I tried to eat a couple GU chews since I knew that my energy levels were dropping but my stomach just didn't want to take anything. I was relieved when I finally saw the crest and we reached the Red Banks. Once you're there it feels like a cake walk to the top. We stayed a bit at the Red Banks to rest and because it was well protected from the winds that started to pick up. The sun started rising as well producing some beautiful alpenglow and a mountain shadow! We slowly but steadily made our way up Misery Hill. I knew from trip reports that all "summits" in sight would be false summits for a while but the mind plays tricks and you still think that "the next one must be it". It was still much easier than getting up to the Red Banks though. Contrary to other trip reports, you can actually see the true summit from the Red Banks (right where you come up the gulch). If you look to the right of what appears to be the summit (it's actually Misery Hill) you can see a couple ragged rocks that look like someone is showing you the middle finger - that's the true summit!

We took another food break at the top of Misery Hill finally with the summit in sight. The rest is just icing. A couple hundred extra feet of elevation gain and you're done. We made it to the top around 7:15am, stayed for a bunch of pictures then back to camp. We couldn't glissade down from the Red Banks because the chutes were way too icy (some other people tried though with limited success). However there was some good glissading at the bottom parts of the gulch where snow was softer and less steep. We also glissaded half-way back from camp to the car. The rest of time we spent in a slushfest of snow - I felt bad for the folks who hiked up at that time: it was slushy and hot! Back at the car at 1:15pm. Burgers and Beers at Cooper's Bar and Grill. Decided to drive back home right after that but as expected only made it 20 miles - to the first rest area, to take a good nap.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:7362 ft / 2243 m
    Round-Trip Distance:11 mi / 17.7 km
    Route:Avalanche Gulch
    Trailhead:Bunny Flat TH  6800 ft / 2072 m
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Clear

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