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Go Climb a Glacier !

The tomato plants are thriving, the mountain lakes have reached perfect swimming temps, and the snows of Mt. Shasta have retreated from all but the north side glaciers. It’s been a hot summer after a below average winter and we have ceased guiding the traditional south side Avalanche Gulch route as well as the West Face climb. There are however still excellent options if you are hoping for a Mt. Shasta summit this season.

Approaching basecamp on the Hotlum-Bolam route Mt. Shasta

Approaching basecamp on the Hotlum-Bolam route Mt. Shasta.
photo: Garret Smith

Mt. Shasta is home to 7 glaciers including California’s largest. We find the northeast side Hotlum-Bolam and Hotlum-Wintun routes to offer excellent late season climbing and we lead trips for all levels of mountaineers on these climbs. This season currently has good conditions and will get icier and more challenging as we get later into August and September. Stay cool on a CA glacier this summer!

Senior Guide Eric Layton tying in for the Hotlum-Bolam

Senior Guide Eric Layton tying in for the Hotlum-Bolam
photo: Garret Smith

Mt. Shasta’s glacier climbs are a perfect introduction to climbing more technical routes as well as preparation for future climbs like Mt. Rainier and other Cascade peaks. We’ll climb steep snow and ice passing by the large bergschrund at the base of the ramp before the final steep pitches to the north summit. We climb both the Hotlum-Bolam and Hotlum-Wintun in 3 day summit climbs and 4 and 5 day Glacier Seminars.

Approaching the glacier on the Hotlum-Bolam Ridge Mt. Shasta

Approaching the glacier on the Hotlum-Bolam Ridge Mt. Shasta
photo: Garret Smith

The north side of Mt. Shasta is a very different experience than climbing the far more popular south side routes. Sometimes just reaching the Northgate trailhead is an adventure! We hike through whitebark pine forests and through volcanic landscapes to reach our basecamp perched on moraines at 9,500′. Glacier fed creeks flow close by and we enjoy views of the route straight up in front of our tent doors.

Hotlum-Bolam route Mt. Shasta

The view from camp
Hotlum-Bolam route Mt. Shasta

We’ve enjoyed great trips recently and expect to have good climbing for several more weeks on Mt. Shasta. Enjoy the long, mild summer days; they’re going fast and we’ll be feeling the first signs of fall in the air soon.

We will finish up our summit season in mid September this year. Although climbable year round, we find fall to have some of the most challenging and potentially dangerous route conditions on the mountain, it’s usually better to wait until next year. October brings perfect rock climbing (Rocktober!) and surfing to California, that’s where the SMG crew will be until the new snow starts to fly!

 

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