Mt. Shasta Early Spring Update

It’s mid-April in Northern California and the sound of raindrops continue to be the theme for the winter and spring of ’16-’17. We have officially surpassed the mark for the wettest winter on record for the Northern Sierra section of CA, yay! The weather station at 7,600’ on Mt. Shasta is measuring close to 20’ of settled snow, this is truly remarkable and we are going to have excellent alpine conditions on Mt. Shasta this year.

Although it’s Spring per the calendar, there is still plenty of snow falling in Northern California. As the ski resorts are closing, our season is just ramping up and the backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering will be truly epic for the next several months.

Backcountry powder skiing Mt. Shasta

Backcountry powder skiing Mt. Shasta

Today (4.18.17) was yet another perfect day of backcountry skiing on Mt. Shasta. We received 4-5″ of cold snow on a soft supportive base with light winds which made for pretty sublime conditions.

West Face Mt. Shasta

West Face Mt. Shasta

Our season is off and running. The last couple weeks have brought amazing snow quality and beyond stoked guests. Several of our guides have been leading ski tours, splitboard seminars, and climbing classes as we wait for the jet stream to bring more seasonal weather and we are able to get onto the upper mountain.

Untracked smooth snow for miles on Mt. Shasta

Untracked smooth snow for miles on Mt. Shasta

Eric Layton, senior guide and splitboard guru just spent 3 days on the mountain and racked up some serious vertical of untouched and butter smooth spring powder. To say they were stoked would be an understatement and they were thrilled by the untouched canvas of volcano ski touring.

Fantastic skiing on Mt. Shasta

Fantastic skiing on Mt. Shasta

The Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center has completed their avalanche advisories for the season; that’s not to say that the hazard has diminished, and it’s just the opposite. We have received several more storm systems this week and if the forecast is correct it looks like this weekend could provide the first real spring like weather this year. Sunny skies and mild temps are on tap. With all the new snow, and rapidly warming temperatures, we are very concerned with the possibility of wet slide avalanches this weekend. We strongly recommend caution and to avoid runout zones and gullies, especially below Lake Helen. There is a high probability of south and east slopes to become unstable and for large, destructive wet slides to run a long distance. 

Ski Mountaineering training Mt. Shasta

Ski Mountaineering training Mt. Shasta

Once we have a few cycles of mild days and cold nights, the hazard will diminish and we expect a long and enjoyable season on Mt. Shasta. Our guided climbs and trips are beginning to fill and we recommend contacting us soon to secure your dates.

Upcoming Events:

Guide training with Dave Miller and Rich Meyer 4/21-23. We can’t wait to see our crew back with such epic conditions!

Mt. Shasta Ski Mountaineering Seminar 4/21-24 Senior Guide Dane Brinkley leads 4 days of advanced ski mountaineering with some excellent weather and conditions lined up

The Geology of Mt. Shasta Presentation by Dr. William Hirt Friday April 21 at 7:00pm Sisson Museum

Summit climbs and ski descents each weekend starting now!

Call or email for the latest. Happy Spring!


  1. The mountain looks awesome. Can’t wait to join you for Denali prep next week.

  2. Steve Lebaron says:

    Hello, three of us are looking at a long one-dayer via the Wintum-Hotlum route, hoping to avoid the crowds. Our only beta so far is Jeff Smoot’s “best Climbs/Cascade Volcanoes”. weather permiting, we’d be climbing on June 5th. we would appreciate any info. you can provide including the best and shortest approach. thank you very much. Steve

  3. Steve Lebaron says:

    Three/four of us are planning a long one dayer via the Wintum-Hotlum route, hoping to avoid the crowds around the 5th of june. Our only beta so far is Jeff Smoot’s book “Best Climbs/Cascade Volcanoes”. He recommends the Brewster Crk approachwith an 8 hr. climb to summt. do you concur and or have any other suggestion/recommendations? Thank you very much. Steve LeBaron

    • Hi Steve, early June can be ideal climbing and skiing on the Hotlum-Wintun route. The trailhead access from Brewer Creek may be limited with this season’s deep snowpack, we are 200% of normal this year. You will likely be able to drive within 3-5 miles of the trailhead. Take a gps waypoint and then climb the drainage from your parking spot without walking the final switchbacks to the trailhead.
      The easterly aspect will likely require and early descent for best conditions. I would plan at least 8 hours for the ascent, longer with any added approach, shorter if you have experience and are acclimated.
      Good luck and enjoy the trip!
      -Chris Carr

      • Steve Lebaron says:

        HI Chris and Jenn, and thank you for the earlier beta. As a consequence, we changed our plans and now now looking at late June. I’m wondering if the 3-5 mile walk to the Brewer trail head is still required. Do you have any info. re. current status of trail head access?

        • Hi Steve,
          It’s still 8+ miles to the Brewer Creek TH and more snow this week. Hard to say for certain but likely by late June you should be able to get there or within a couple miles. cheers, Chris

  4. Darrick says:


    I was thinking of possibly heading up this weekend, but I’ve seen some mixed things in the weather reports. For instance, mentions that Saturday will be clear but windy. Do you happen any ideas what the climbing conditions currently are and will be this weekend?


  5. Hi people!🤠 I’m planing go for the 4th of July week, do you think trail will be open to walk in the mountain. I’m worry for the snow..will be my first time in majestic mount.. thank you for the info.

    • Hi Sonia, there will be trails that are snow free on the lower mountain in July. You can walk to Sand Flat and Horse Camp and I would think Panther Meadows will still hold some snow. Enjoy your visit to Mt. Shasta.

  6. J.R. McLain says:

    How is Avalanche Gulch looking? I know the mountain is getting about 2 feet of fresh snow right now. We plan to climb the 23rd-25th of June.
    Thanks, J.R.

    • Hi J.R., Avalanche Gulch is looking great. We had a storm Sunday 6/10 but it is clearing out and now windy. We expect excellent climbing this month and all summer long. Climb safe and enjoy! -Chris

  7. Heading to the West Face with Fred Hutch Team this Friday.
    How is the route looking? Weather?

    • Hi Chris, the weather looks great and the route is in excellent condition. We had a group summit yesterday and we found great climbing on the West Face. Thanks for climbing with the Hutch team, we look forward to seeing you soon! Cheers, Chris Carr

  8. Planning a trip to summit and ski Mt. Shasta with some friends who are experienced skiers. Cannot find any information online about conditions, weather, snowpack on the mountain. Any recommendations? Any chance it is worth going on July 22nd with my friends or will it be too carved out, iced out and generally in bad condition to go at that time? Thank you so much in advance! Would love to get as much information as possible, perhaps you can recommend me to a source i.e. email, phone number of someone/organization that is knowledgeable.



    • Hi Sam, in late July the conditions for skiing will be generally poor, but still possible. There may be good turns between 11-13,000′. The lower mountain will be heavily sun cupped and debris filled with ice, sastrugi, etc. You will be walking on dry ground to approximately 10,000′. Wether it’s worth it is up to you, fun can be found but it will come with a price. We are on the mountain regularly and are knowledgeable about current conditions, feel free to call or email. Cheers, Chris

  9. Tina Denison says:

    I’m planning a hiking and camping trip on Aug 11th and 12th.The plan is to camp at Helen lake. Will we need crampons after horse camp? Last year in May I did a day hike to Horse camp. The rental store advised that we did not need crampons. I wanted to hike further but could not because they were needed to go beyond that point. The Shasta cam does not give me information on that area. Do you know of a better resource? Should we camp st horse camp and just hike to Helen Lake?

    • J.R. McLain says:

      I think camping at Helen Lake is fantastic. The views are amazing. Make sure you get up around 1am and check out the stars. The lack of light pollution makes for starts like you’ve never seen. As far as snow goes, in late June, there was copious amounts of snow from Bunny Flats to the top. I would imagine it’s melted out to Horse Camp, but you should expect snow above horse camp. I didn’t use crampons until after Helen Lake, so you shouldn’t need them if you’re only going to Helen Lake. Good luck, and have fun!

    • I’m heading up early next week so I’ll post a conditions update here when I get back. Local resources to check with are SMG, The Fifth Season and Shasta Ranger Station (google for phone #s).

  10. Dirt trail ends ~9500 so you’ll be on snow for the last 800-900 feet up to Helen lake. It’s probably doable in boots but you’ll be sliding around a lot – freezing level is 14k so the snow up to Helen lake doesn’t freeze overnight. Microspikes would be better and crampons best of all but I was still having to kick steps on the steeper sections well before sunrise today. Check the weather forecast and be safe – a big thunderstorm yesterday started around 12:30pm and lasted most of the afternoon. Today’s forecast is similar but nothing as of 1pm. A tent at Helen lake would be a scary place to sit through a thunderstorm like the one yesterday. Good luck.

Speak Your Mind


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