nice one Brian, perfect east side conditions.
This post sure is getting long. It's pretty cool too though. I hope internet connections get faster.
Last Friday 6-18 I skied from the summit using the North Gate Trailhead. We climbed Hotlum Bolum from the trailhead, skinning after about 10 minutes of walking. We skied back to that point easily as well. leaving at 5:30 we got to the top around 1:30, taking our time as we could tell the snow was barely going to soften. Okay, not that we were gonna go much faster....6900' to over 14000'
Shasta had been pummled by high winds for days. Noaa called for no winds. USFS said 30mph up high. I ignored USFS, and Noaa pulled through for us. No wind.
Greg and I went up the black line, skinning to 12k along the Hotlum Bolum Ridge. It's a vague ridge, but it's visably there to stay off the glacier if you want to. There is one spot where you traverse left into the chute above the Hotlum Glacier, where there are probably some crevasses. The snowpack was frozen really solid and smooth, in fact so much that we felt comfortable skiing right down the Bolum Glacier. I assume the normal return Hotlum Bolum ski descent is along the route you climb. Or at least that's what I've done in the past.
First full view, we are psyched!
I only saw a few tracks in places, and no ski tracks. Figures, with the recent weather. On the way out we passed big group of at least 10 skiers setting up camp at treeline. I don't think the weather held for them though.
We slept a whole 2 hours before getting up. My usual program unfortunately, leaving after work. Going to the north side is another hour or two compared to hitting Bunny Flat. So we took a nap for 45 minutes at the start of the HB ridge. The snow was rock hard, and it was only 10:30 or so. This definately paid off, I felt a lot better afterwards.
Clouds moved in, but I felt pretty sure they weren't enveloping the mountain. They weren't floor to ceiling, but really just within about 1000' looking around everywhere. And kind of just side-swiping the mountain. I felt I could get back down in thick clouds at the time. Looking back, that would have really sucked, and been nearly impossible in a whiteout. It's summer already though. Whiteout? Nahhhh
We are ski cramponing for our life here, and started using them as soon as the slope angle tilted to 25 degrees or so. Bulletproof snow. There was no wind however, it had to soften at some point. It's late June!
After skinning the tiny glacier bit this route involves, which is the high east corner of it, we put on the ol camp ultralight boot crampons and walked up the chute climbers' left of the Hotlum Bolum Ridge. I hadn't noticed until descending that there is a twin parallel chute on the West side of the ridge that is longer, and wider.
Coming out of the chute to a flat bench, at about 13k. Here I went over left a little to check out the more dramatic part of the Bolum Glacier, beneath the triangle shaped rock headwall that helps define the north side of Mt. Shasta for me.
Just left of our HB route is a cool part of the Hotlum Glacier up high, below the rock headwall.
This shot is from 500' below the previous one. I think last time I went up the ridge climbing class 2-3 rock. Shasta must have had less snow at that time, it felt pretty obvious in this climb to follow snow around the corner. So I'm hopefully accurate calling the actual HB ridge is the rock just left of my black line here.
Whitney Glacier and Shastina's east facing chutes in the background.
There was enough snow to boot up the steep chutes on the west side of HB, and in fact we skied from the summit. Or at least as close as you do on the east side. Although rock hard and largely covered in small water-ice fins, we felt we climbed a way through that we could ski back down on descent "frozen granular". Nope. We could barely hold an edge, and got worked just like the last time I tried to ski the top 1300' with Roger in 2005.
On a side note, I skied down from the summit a chute over, directly above the Hotlum Headwall. I knew I would be traversing out of it soon, but found perfect windblown smooth winter snow. And it was gettting steeper and quite awsome. I made about 15 turns more than I should have, and came to my senses. The snow told me to go back actually, as it got icy. At that point I realized I missed my exit left. I thought about changing back to boot crampons, but felt it was safer to side-step back up on the chalky winter snow. Great. Sidestep back up 300' at 13,500' when I'm over-dressed for a descent. I felt it was totally worth it though. Pretty exciting.
Looking down at the East side ski descent above Brewer Creek Trailhead. We were up there from about 1:30 to 2pm and didn't see anyone. I thought there would be a zoo of tracks. Maybe there is now.
There are a few bumps on the summit. We are looking back north to where we need to go here, sitting on the actual summit. It looks higher, but it's just a few feet lower over there.
The black line is our climb. I skied down directly beneath the top and stopped at the choke and shade line. I had to sidestep back up and cross over to the Bolum Ridge to join Greg on the NW chutes above the Bolum Glacier. I feel like all my Shasta pictures fail to show the steepness of the top 2500'. On all routes, it gets pretty serious when the snow is firm. Add the ice I believe to be common on the north side, and it's no wonder people rarely ski over here. The lower half of the mountain is fantastic however, way less tracked and suncupped. Probably the smoothest snow you're going to find in California late in the season.
I'm sure I've lost you all by now with this post. If you're still reading, this is about 13k where we were so frustrated with the icy snow, we just wanted to keep going down. We probably would have found soft snow had we re-entered the north chute we climbed. It had a little east exposure in it and certainly no surface ice. Instead, the Bolum glacier just looked so skiable, we couldn't resist. I knew the steep roll-over in the middle was broken up in some way, so we skied above and around it. I've never seen the glacier in the summer, and didn't really know if there were crevasses up there. The snow was so hard though, we just avoided any bumps or dips. Greg is the little dot well below me to the left here on the bolum Glacier.
lower on the Bolum the snow started to get good.
Some climbers coming up at 3pm at around 11k. The last two times I skied down this runway on a straight B-line for the car. This time we skied left into the next gully, also the way we came up in the morning. Both are really fun. You get flying with all that low-angle white. No rocks or trees, and perfectly smooth. Out of view the slope steepens for another 1000' to treeline. If you just ski toured up to this mid-mountain spot, you would be psyched. There is at least 4000' of fun skiing below us, and we've just descended what seems like a huge mountain already.
So now are super psyched at about 3pm. We had a lonely, no wind summit day, skied down over super deep snow, saw cracks, and started to get the soft perfect 2" deep corn just beneath that slope wide crack on the Bolum Glacier. None of these website pictures in any Shasta trip report can really portray just how long of a run this is. I stop and grab a few pictures every 1000'. Or is it....I take a break every 1000' and might as well snap some pictures while I give my legs a minute to rest.
It looks dry here, but the snow was pretty solid to the trailhead. We skied easily to within a 10 minutes walk of the car.
USFS is still calling the snowpack 140% of normal. Here's a view of the north side from the highway. The Whitney Glacier is in the middle. Shastina was plastered well on both sides, looking like it normally does in early May.
Looking at Diller Canyon on the west side of Shastina. I still haven't done this one yet. Looks covered enough where it needs to be right now.
The west face, zoomed in from the highway. This looked really well covered.
Mt. Lassen looked good. It's been awhile for me.