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FAQ

Why Shasta Mountain Guides™?

Shasta Mountain Guides™ is the oldest and only local Mt. Shasta guide service.  For nearly 40 years we have been leading the highest quality summit climbs and seminars on the mountain. We achieve this through smaller climb teams with the lowest guide:climber ratio on the mountain. We specialize in Mt. Shasta and the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, no detail is too small. Our guides are the highest trained professionals and we make your safety and goals our first priority.

When is the best time of year to climb Mt. Shasta?

As a Cascade Volcano in Northern California, Mt. Shasta receives over 500″ of snow annually and extended periods of high pressure in spring  and summer. This is optimal for safe and efficient mountaineering and we generally recommend April-September for best conditions.

Winter weather can be quite fierce and severe with potential avalanche hazard above tree line making a climb of anything other than a ridge potentially dangerous. Autumn brings short, cold days and nearly all of the climbing routes are in very poor condition.

More than 2 days before a trip it is impossible for us to predict what the weather will be like on a given day. Weather can and does change rapidly. Day and night time temperatures vary depending on time of year and elevation. Come prepared with everything on the clothing and equipment list, yes, even the down jacket in July!

What is the best route to climb Mt. Shasta?

Prime conditions on the south and west side is from April – July. Avalanche Gulch and the West Face are best for new climbers and those looking for the greatest opportunity to reach the summit. North and east side routes are best June – September and may be more technical than the south side climbs. The Hotlum-Bolam and Hotlum-Wintun are steeper, glaciated terrain which will add to the challenge. This is a great option for experienced climbers or those wanting additional skills and more remote routes.

How do I register for a trip?

Registration is simple. Click the link on the climb or seminar you are interested in and you can complete our online reservation system “The FlyBook”. You can always call and make your reservation as well as have all of your questions answered. If we are out of the office, it is likely because we are on the mountain, so be sure to leave a message and we will return your call promptly.

We require a 50% non-refundable deposit per person at the time reservations are made. You will then be sent confirmation material and climb details. Your balance is due 7 days prior to trip departure.

What is Shasta Mountain Guides’ cancellation policy?

Please carefully consider the trip dates you select. The deposit is non refundable; cancellations received at least 30 days prior to departure will receive a refund minus deposit.  No refund will be issued 0 to 30 days prior to departure, or in the event of no-shows.

All cancellation requests must be made in advance. You may also transfer your trip to another scheduled date up to 14 days before the original trip date, there is a $95 change fee for this. Prior notification and fee payment is needed to process all trip transfers.

We seldom, if ever, cancel a trip, but if we find it necessary to do so, we will refund all deposits and fees.

How Difficult is the Mt. Shasta Summit Climb

Mountaineering by nature is an extremely demanding activity. We carry loaded packs to basecamp over rock, snow, scree, and ice. The climbing is long and sustained on steep, exposed slopes. The altitude, weather, and terrain demand proper preparation.

All of our trips are physically strenuous; however, many people from diverse age groups and physical abilities climb to the summit every year. To get the most out of your climb, we recommend that you start an exercise regimen several months prior to your trip.

A routine that simulates the activity (walking up rugged terrain with a loaded pack) will provide the best training. Aerobic activity and muscle strengthening along with flexibility and core strength is advised as well. A balance between endurance, strength, and aerobic exercise is ideal.

If possible, we recommend that you incorporate outdoor training into your program. For example, begin with hiking up moderate trails. Slowly and conservatively add weight to a back pack as you increase your hiking pace and move on to more difficult trails.

The key to an efficient climb on Mt. Shasta lies in a climber’s ability to maintain a slow and steady pace. Normally, our guides strive to keep groups moving for 1-1.5 hours between breaks. We recommend that you work towards maintaining 1-1.5 hr. hiking intervals with a weighted pack on your training hikes.

The best training to climb is to simulate the activity, hiking uphill with a backpack on. If trails are not assessable to you we recommend using a gym, running stairs, cycling, and trail running. Work toward an hour of uninterrupted aerobic activity and increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. Always consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

How heavy will my backpack be?

Expect to carry a 40-45 lb pack (including group gear) on the approach to base camp. You will add shared group gear (5-8 pounds) to your personal gear. On climb day, your pack will weigh approximately 12-15 lbs. Porters are available at an additional cost ($150 per porter per day). Please contact the office to make arrangements.

What is included in the cost of my climb?

Shasta Mountain Guides provides main meals: breakfasts and dinners, tents, stoves, cooking equipment, ropes and harnesses, and all passes and permits. All of our summit climbs include snow school in preparation for the ascent.

What will I provide?

Trip members provide their own personal gear; clothing, backpack, sleeping bag, mountaineering boots, ice axes, crampons, helmet. All of the technical gear can be rented here locally at The Fifth Season 530-926-3606. We recommend reserving any rental gear well in advance to ensure that you have the proper equipment. Shasta Mountain Guides does not provide transportation to or from any of our trips or outings.

What kind of snack food should I bring?

Shasta Mountain Guides provides main meals; breakfasts and dinners. You will bring climbing food for summit day and additional days on our longer courses. We suggest a variety of food that you know you enjoy. Often at altitude our appetites decrease so it is important that your food is palatable. A selection of protein, carbs, fats, salts, and sweets should be considered.

Try to vary your snacks to accommodate your high altitude lack of appetite. Bagels, cheese, jerky, gorp, chocolate, nuts, Clif Bars and energy gels are all good choices.

What kind of gear should I bring?

When you register for a class or climb you will receive a comprehensive list of necessary clothing and equipment. Every item on the list is required so please pack accordingly. If you have specific questions reguarding clothing or equipment please contact our office. Proper equipment ensures your best chance for summit success as well as your comfort.

How big will our group be?

For safety and group comfort we utilize a maximum 4:1 climber to guide ratio. The more technical trips and routes we use a 3:1 ratio. Our group size limit includes 2 guides and 8 climbers. This is the largest the group will be according to USFS Wilderness Area group size limitations. Often our groups are smaller than this and we may have an even lower ratio.

If someone in my group is unable to summit, will I lose my chance to summit?

Mountaineering is a team-oriented sport that encompasses much more than simply climbing to the summit of an objective peak. With Shasta Mountain Guides you will meet new people, learn new skills, enjoy aesthetic views and delicious mountain cuisine, and make a summit attempt.

We understand that reaching the summit is of the highest priority for most climbers, and our guides make every attempt to do so safely; however, due to unpredictable changes in weather and route conditions a summit is never guaranteed.

In the event that a team member needs to turn around, one guide will accompany that climber down so the rest of the team can climb on. Often, we have multiple groups and guides on the mountain. Our guides work closely with one another to maximize climber’s opportunity to reach the summit. It is rare that we have to turn an entire team around; your guides will brief the group prior to the summit climb.

How do I get to Mt. Shasta?

Mt. Shasta lies in Siskiyou County in far northern California. We are 50 miles from the Oregon/California border and are situated close to Interstate 5. The mountain is visible from a distance of over 100 miles from the south.

Redding, CA and the Medford, OR are the closest airports, both offer car rental. The Sacramento International airport is 3 hours south and San Francisco International airport is 4.5 hours.

We recommend that you arrive at least one day before your trip, and make hotel arrangements for the night after your trip.

What kinds of accommodations are available in Mt. Shasta?

A variety of accommodations is available in Mt. Shasta, from campgrounds to deluxe hotels and chalets. The Mount Shasta Chamber of Commerce can provide additional area information. 800-926-4865. The Cold Creek Inn offers simple, clean and comfortable accommodations as well as a 15% discount to Shasta Mountain Guides climbers. 800-292-9421.

How much should I tip my guides?

Tips are not expected, but are always appreciated. Our guides take pride in their profession, and work hard to provide safe and fun adventures on Mt. Shasta. The amount of gratuity depends on your level of satisfaction with your guides and the trip, consider as you would in a restaurant.

What kind of food do you serve?

Shasta Mountain Guides cares about the health of our clients, our guides and the environment. Maintaining optimal physical and mental health at altitude and in cold weather is a climber’s best defense against injury and illness, and ensures the success of a climb.

Therefore, we are committed to providing healthy organic meals that reflect a high standard of alpine cuisine. At the same time, we are dedicated to limiting the amount of waste our groups create on the mountain.

Nearly all of our menu ingredients are purchased in bulk form to limit unnecessary product packing waste, and 90% of the menu ingredients are organic.

The vast majority of our meals are vegetarian and at the same time have been carefully planned to include protein. If you know that you require large amounts of protein please consider bringing extra jerky or canned meat to supplement your meals.

Our guides are happy to accommodate dietary restriction. If this applies to you please make special arrangements with the office when you register for a trip.

Climbing Ethics

We feel honored to work and play on Mt. Shasta, and are proud to share our passion for backcountry skiing and mountaineering with others. At the same time, we are aware of the potential impact commercial guiding may have on the fragile alpine environment.

Therefore, we are committed to preserving the areas we use through education, and by modeling low-impact backcountry travel techniques.

All of our staff and guides are Leave No Trace certified and follow these principals diligently. We pack out all our garbage, including human waste, pack out bags are provided by the Forest Service Climbing Rangers. We at Shasta Mountain Guides are founding members of the Stewardship Fund of Far Northern California as well.

Can I schedule a customized itinerary or private trip?

We are happy to accommodate private and custom trips with advance notice. Please note that additional costs are required. If you are interested in arranging a private solo or private group climb please contact our office and we will do our best to accommodate you.