August is upon us and we’re scrambling to enjoy the last few weeks of summer here in the north state. If you have your mind on a climb in 2012, do it soon! Late summer brings a number of changes to Mt. Shasta. Warm summer temps melt the remaining snow on the south side climbing routes and we cease guiding on these routes. We finished up on Avalanche Gulch in mid July and the West Face went to the end of the month.
We recommend and are climbing on the north side glacier routes for the remainder of the season. These climbs are slightly more difficult (both technically and physically) than the regular south side climbs. Being glaciated and north facing, it can be icy and steeper late in the season.
We really enjoy the Hotlum-Bolam route accessed from the Northgate trailhead. This is a perfect introduction to glacier climbing and provides a scenic and enjoyable ascent on Shasta’s much less frequented north east flank. This climb features snow and ice up to 45 degrees, belayed sections, and a growing glacier and bergschrund; a perfect next step!
The other highlight is climbing on the Hotlum Glacier. This is a large and active glacier with a series of 3 spectacular ice falls to avoid or play on, depending on your objectives. If you want to expand your skills and experience or are training for bigger objectives, the Hotlum is a perfect destination for advancced skills and climbing.
This season, 2 of our guides; Tucker Cunningham and Drew Smith made an ascent of the Hotlum Headwall. This is a 300′ tall face of questionable rock perched at 13,000′ at the top of the glacier. This has seen only a handfull of ascents and they did it great form; see Tucker’s report here: Tucker Cunnngham’s Adventures and Drew’s photos here: Drew Smith MyPlan
These routes will be in great shape for the next month or so. Although it is possible to climb Mt. Shasta year round; we usually stop scheduling group climbs in mid September. As the fall progresses days are cold and short and the possibility of new snow and poor weather increases. Along with generally poor conditions on most routes, we don’t really recommend a climb until more favorable conditions prevail.
We hope you get out and enjoy the remaining summer in the mountains! We’ll be wrapping our regular season and anticipating what comes next here in NorCal!