Mt. Shasta Climb Report and Current Conditions 5.27.15

Climbing season on Mt. Shasta just went into high gear. With a festive holiday and near perfect snow and weather, mountaineers who made the journey to Northern California were rewarded with Mt. Shasta in ideal late spring conditions.

West Face Mt. Shasta May 2015  ph: C. Krumholz

West Face Mt. Shasta May 2015 ph: C. Krumholz

The mountain received new snow last week and with an improving weather window, the conditions in the alpine zone were beautiful. A reliable boot pack facilitated the climbing and the refreshed snow surface made for epic glissading and skiing on all aspects.

Mt. Shasta shadow West Face  ph: C. Krumholz

Mt. Shasta shadow West Face ph: C. Krumholz

SMG had groups on the south, west, and north sides of Mt. Shasta and all the teams had climbers reach the summit. Avalanche Gulch was the choice for many, we counted over 70 tents at Lake Helen Saturday night. The West Face teams found ideal climbing and a full glissade from the top of the route all the way back to camp in Hidden Valley. Greg and Jonas led our ski mountaineering expedition to the Hotlum-Wintun and found classic Shasta skiing for 7,000′ of relief.

SMG Guide JC serves up dinner at high camp.

SMG Guide JC serves up dinner at high camp.

Although it was a little impacted in Avy Gulch the favorable conditions minimized hazards. We witnessed very little rock fall and all routes have great climbing and melt-freeze conditions. We anticipate the south side routes to have good conditions through June and probably longer and the north side routes to be good through August and beyond.

a 4,000' glissade down the West Face of Mt. shasta  ph: C. Krumholz

A 4,000′ glissade down the West Face of Mt. shasta ph: C. Krumholz

It’s always fun to see friends old and new and we love the inspiration! The postcard-perfect views were beautiful and the alpine conditions allowed us to sample a variety of temps and climbing techniques. It’s always such a joy to witness climbers have a great adventure, be pushed beyond their comfort zone, and achieve their goals. Over the years we’ve made many friends on Mt. Shasta, it’s the most enjoyable part of what we do, thanks for climbing with us!

Mt. Shasta summit team May 2015  ph: C. Krumholz

Mt. Shasta summit team May 2015 ph: C. Krumholz

Congratulations to all the climbers this week on Mt. Shasta. Now that we are moving into summer, we are settling into prime climbing season. Best conditions are here and now. See you on the mountain!


Upcoming Events

5/26 and 5/27 USFS Climbing Ranger Nick Meyers will be at REI Santa Rosa and REI Saratoga for Mt. Shasta climbing presentations.

June 6-7 American Liver Foundation Liver Life Challenge The Liver Life Challenge Mt. Shasta Climb, the American Liver Foundation’s annual mountaineering expedition to fight liver disease.

Look for exciting news from SMG, it’s going to be a great summer!


  1. Hey Chris,

    Nice blog and beautiful pictures!!!
    I had a quick question. I’m going to Mt. Shasta tomorrow, Friday 5/29. I’ll be hiking from Northgate Trailhead to Marine Base Camp and was wandering if I am going to need snowshoes for that? Do you have any idea?



    • Hi Pavla, we just climbed over on the Hotlum Glacier today. You will not need snowshoes to get to Military camp from Northgate. The trail is melted and the snow has consolidated. Have a great trip trip! -Chris

  2. Thanks so much, Chris. It’s a big help!
    Have a great weekend.


  3. Darrick says:

    Hi Chris,
    Awesome pics! It looks like there are going to be strong winds over the next few days. Do people still head up in those conditions?

    • Hi Darrick,
      Thanks for the message, we’re happy you enjoy the pics! We will make a summit attempt and head up as long as conditions allow. Strong winds can certainly effect the climb but we will make an attempt and see how it goes. The spring is often unsetteld and the weather changes very fast. It’s impossible to predict what will happen. Please let us know if you have any other questions at all. Cheers, -Chris

      • Darrick says:

        Thanks so much, Chris! That’s helpful. I really appreciate the follow-up.

        Thanks again,

  4. Jeff Kehm says:

    Wondering the snow level at Lake Helen? I assume a four season tent with snow spikes are required? We’re heading up in three weeks and knew it was a light snow year.

    • Jeff, our snow pack is near normal this year, especially above 8,000′ it is quite good. In three weeks you will likely hit snow around 9,000′. There will likely be options to camp on dry ground at Lake Helen, but you should be prepared to camp on snow. The bigger issue is winds, make sure your tent is well anchored, snow stakes are not effective unless used as deadmen. Good luck! -Chris

  5. Are camp sites at Main camp (clear creek route) melted out or still in snow?

    • I would expect the springs to be covered and patchy snow at treeline on Clear Creek. It will likely melt out in the next couple weeks. Good luck.

  6. jim warren says:

    Chis, Last year I did a one day climb of Avalanche Gulch at the beginning of June. This year, I have two calendar choices for Shasta: June 23 or June 30. Because of the excellent snow conditions this year, do you think that one week will make much of a difference?

    • Hi Jim, I don’t think a week will make much difference. The weather has been cool and wet this spring, so conditions should hold up well for the month of June. Good luck and let us know if you have any other questions at all. cheers, -Chris

  7. stefan tampe says:

    Planning on doing a quick alpine ascent Friday early morning from bunny flat…any input is appreciated. does the snow still reach bunny flat ? I did the same this year in January, was pretty cold and icy on top..:-)

    • Stefan, the snow level is currently 8,300′ or so. You will be on dry ground to Spring Hill. The weather should be quite a bit warmer this week than it was in January. Enjoy the climb. -Chris

      • stefan tampe says:

        Thanks Chris, appreciate the response, planning on using my spitboard, hope there is still enough coverage from the top, right ?

        • Made it to the top in about 7.5 hours..skiing was pretty nice…will be back next season, many thanks for all the help…

  8. Hi Chris! I am going to be on the north side of the mountain this weekend skiing. We are debating between the Hotlum-Wintun Ridge or the north side of Shastina. Do you know which is in better shape for a ski descent right now? Thanx

    • Hi Jason, I’m seeing ideal conditions on the n. side Shastina, it looks reaaaalllly good. Hotlum-Wintun is also skiing well right now but gets hammered by the sun and skier/snowboarder use. It’s hard to go wrong. Have good fun! -Chris

  9. Hi Chis,
    Do you have an opinion on which is better to ski this weekend: Hotlum Wintun ridge or Hotlum Bolam ridge?
    I am planning on skiing shasta with a couple friends this weekend, and the forecast looks hot. Thanks!

    • Hi Jin, there’s currently good skiing on both routes. Longer trail walking on the H-B but probably smoother skiing up high. Lower snow on H-W but more skier traffic and sunups below 10,000′. good luck, not too bad for a drought year! Yes, it’s hot this week, this may cook the H-W, the aspect is less favorable for the heat. Cheers, Chris

Speak Your Mind


Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.