backpacking
11 days ago

Absolutely amazing experience. Standard Avalanche Gulch route, rather late in the 2018 season (July 6th-7th) with conditions deteriorating quickly. In retrospect, worth doing earlier for more snow on the approach, which was instead a lot of scree.

Additional reason for doing earlier is the hazardous rock fall danger, which continues to increase throughout the climbing season with snow melt. In fact, rock traveling ‘warp-speed’ split my roommate and I (we were no more than 10’ apart) on the night climb ascent (3am start) from Helen Lake to the Red Banks. Made for an extremely unnerving remaining 1k’ up the Gulch and past the Heart. Apparently better to get later start (~4am) this late in the season if a strong climber with good conditioning re: rock fall + wind.

After the Red Banks (steeeep) chimney, and magical sunrise Shasta shadow to the south, Misery Hill was indeed a slog, all scree at this point.

Final push on summit plateau was inspiring, only ~250’ of elevation remaining to the summit. *Make sure to get updated forecast (storm potential and wind) and worth bringing an anemometer, as we were surprised with near 55 mph winds while summiting (8:15am). Ideally less than ~40mph at the top, as we barely felt comfortable getting to the register.

All in all an, an incredible introduction to mountaineering. We went unguided after much research and planning, but benefited from linking up with 2 other small groups. Fun Glissade on the way down. Total RT time from Helen up and back was ~8 hours, but included some leisurely breaks. Crampons and axe almost certainly required.

While others are a priority now, definitely would revisit Shasta in the future, potentially on more technical routes with some more experience. 9/10, only due to rockfall moment and the scree.