Climbing Mount Shasta

Climbing Mount Shasta

6/7 - 6/10 2001

Mt. Shasta is the second highest of the Cascade volcanoes, reaching 14,162 ft. (4,317 m.). Since it's relatively southern location, it offers several relatively easy routes to the summit. We took the easiest and most common one, Avalanche Gulch on the southwestern side of the mountain. Although it does not travel on glaciers, there is a lot of snow and due to about 35 deg. slopes at places and frozen morning snow, crampons and ice axe are a must. This route starts at Bunny Flat Trailhead, at 6,860 ft. The distance to the summit is supposedly about 6 miles, and reasonably strong hiker should be able to do this roundtrip in a day. However, to guarantee success, we opted, as many others, to backpack up to Lake Helen, at 10,443 ft., in one day, and summit and walk down the other day. With backpack, it should take 3-4 hrs. to get to Lake Helen, about 3.5 miles from Bunny Flat. It's probably 3-6 hours from Lake Helen to the summit, 2-3 hrs back to Lake Helen and 2 hrs with backpack down to the trailhead. Here is the map of the route.
This trip was long planned, but in the end developed rather spontaneously. The weather forecast for the weekend we selected was not very promising until Thursday morning. After several frantic e-mails and phone calls with friends Udo and Dagmar in San Francisco, me and Dina decided to go for it. It turned out to be a good decision, the weather was excellent on Fri. and Sat., and it deteriorated on Sun. We did not care about this, though, since we were already moving eastward through the Great Basin.

Trip plan

Thu. 6/7 - Left SLC at 8pm and drove and drove. Finally stopped about 60 miles past Reno, Nv., after 8 hours of driving, in a small and cozy USFS campground off Milford, Ca.

Fri. 6/8 - Drove off at 6am, arrived to Mt. Shasta at 9am, got the rest of the equipment, met with Udo and Dagmar and drove to Bunny Flat Trailhead. At ca. 1pm hiked out of here to Helen Lake, where we got at ca. 5pm. Made a camp on the snow, melted snow, cooked dinner, almost run out of the fuel. Finally got to bed at around 9pm, when it was starting to freeze.

Sat. 6/9 - Hiked up Mt. Shasta, got up at 4am into a freezing morning, hiked out at 5.30am. Reached top of Red Banks in ca. 3 hours, and summit at 11am (walking rather slowly). Hanged out at the summit for 30 min, walked down to Red Banks and from here glissaded over 2000 ft. vertical back to Lake Helen. Dried our behinds, packed up and left at ca. 4pm, arriving at the trailhead at ca. 6pm. Drove down to Mt. Shasta town, got a big dinner and a motel room to get a good rest before the drive home.

Sun. 6/10 - Drove home. Left Mt. Shasta at ca. 9am MST, arrived to Reno at 12.30pm MST, spent 1.5 hrs looking for and shopping at Trader Joe's. Left Reno at 2pm MST, arrived at Salt Lake at 9pm.


foto 1. Packing at the forest campground in the eastern Sierra
foto 2. View up to the hill above the campgound.
foto 3. View on the southern side of Mt. Shasta from a viewpoint on Hwy. 89.
foto 4. Toilet at the Bunny Flat trailhead.
foto 5. Udo and Dagmar getting ready for the hike out, Avalanche Gulch in the background.
foto 6. Avalanche Gulch from the trail right above Bunny Flat.
foto foto 7.-8. A rest stop about 2/3 of the way to Horse Camp
foto 9. Closing to Horse Camp, near the tree line.
foto 10. The hut at Horse Camp with Avalanche Gulch in the background.
foto 11. Spring at Horse Camp, with excellent water.
foto 12. View up the trail from Horse Camp, for a while, one has to walk on this rocky causeway.
foto 13. View from the causeway down towards Horse Camp.
foto 14. View up the causeway from the same spot.
foto 15. Climbing up the first steeper section above Horse Camp.
foto 16. View down from the same spot.
foto 17. Continued climb up a small gully.
foto 18. View to lower Casaval Ridge from the trail.
foto 19. View down towards Horse Camp from the first climb.
foto 20. View up the hill that climbs to 50/50 plateau.
foto 21. 50/50 plateau, half way between Horse Camp and Lake Helen. View up Avalanche Gulch.
foto 22. Resting at 50/50 plateau, looking down the gulch.
foto 23. Walking up the snow covered gully towards Lake Helen.
foto 24. View down from the same spot.
foto 25. The steepest section of the gully right below Lake Helen.
foto 26. View from the same spot down the gulch.
foto 27. Making a campspot at Lake Helen.
foto 28. The top of the mountain clouded up in the late afternoon.
foto 29. At the camp during the dinner preparation.
foto 30. Sunset panorama from Lake Helen south
foto 1. Starting the climb at Lake Helen, the campspot in the background.
foto 2. View up Avalanche Gulch from the same spot, loads of people were up already, and more were coming.
foto 3. Early morning view down Avalanche Gulch, below Lake Helen, in the middle Mt. Shasta town.
foto 4. View up Avalanche Gulch towards Red Banks about 1/2 hr. above Lake Helen.
foto 5. The sun already shines down in the valley at 6.10am, but it's freezing cold in the gulch.
foto 6. About half way up Avalanche Gulch, view up, with Red Banks chimneys nicely visible.
foto 7. View down Avalanche Gulch at 6.50am, the sun lights most of the valley.
foto 8. From right below The Heart, view up towards eastern Red Banks and Thumb Rock.
foto 9. Walking through the eastern Red Banks, the last chimney was in pretty good shape and easy to walk through.
foto 10. Walking above Red Banks, view south towards Sargents Ridge.
foto 11. View up from the same spot, towards the top of the slope above Red Banks.
foto 12. View down towards Red Banks from above.
foto 13. Walking up above Red Banks towards the base of Misery Hill.
foto 14. View up to Misery Hill from a small plateau about 500 m. above Red Banks.
foto 15. View down from the base of Misery Hill.
foto 16. First view of the large crevasse on the top of Whitney Glacier, west of Misery Hill.
foto 17. View down the trail from climb up Misery Hill.
foto 18. Panorama west from mid Misery Hill, Shastina on the right, Whitney Glacier in the middle.
foto 19. Summit view from the top of Misery Hill.
foto 20. View to Shastina and Whitney Glacier from top of Misery Hill.
foto 21. Summit pinnacle from the plateau.
foto 21. On the summit plateau, view down the trail.
foto foto foto 22-24. Shot of us on the summit.
foto 25. The summit from its northern side.
foto 26. Signing the guest book.
foto 27. View east, onto Wintun Glacier.
foto foto foto 28-30. Segmented panorama from the summit.
foto 31. Zoomed view north from the summit, Mt. McLaughlin in the distance.
foto 32. Zoomed view southwest, towards Mt. Shasta town.
foto 33. View down east to Wintun Glacier from the summit plateau.
foto 34. Zoomed view to the summit pinnacle from the top of Misery Hill.
foto 35. Zoomed view west to Whitney Glacier and Mt. Shasta town from Misery Hill.
foto 36. Zoomed view south, with Lassen Peak faint in the distance.
foto 37. View down Avalanche Gulch from the start of the glissade.
foto foto foto 38-40. Few glissading shots.
foto 41. Panorama of Avalanche Gulch about 1/2 mile above Lake Helen from the glissade down.
foto 42. Packing up the camp.
foto 43. View up Avalanche Gulch from the camp in the mid-afternoon.
foto 44. On the walk down to Horse Camp.
foto 45. Group photo at Horse Camp.
foto 1. Morning view to the mountain from the motel where we stayed.
foto 2. Goodbye shot at the motel.
foto 3. On I5 north near to Mt. Shasta town.
foto foto 4-5. Two views at Lassen Peak from Hwy. 89.
foto 6. Alpine meadow in the mountains above Susanville.
foto 7. View towards the hills about 30 miles east of Susanville, where we stayed Thu. night.
foto 8. Honey Lake, which the road copies outside of Susanville.

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