msg960170header.jpg

Mt. Shasta Conditions Report and Winter Update

To say that we have received a lot of snow this season is a vast understatement. January alone is 197% of normal so far. California has been absolutely clobbered; Shasta, Tahoe, and Mammoth all received epic amounts of snow which has guaranteed a great ski season and full reservoirs. The snowpack on Mt. Shasta at 7,600′ is measuring close to 10′ and yes, another storm is headed our way this week.

Mt. Shasta West Face January 2017

Mt. Shasta West Face January 2017

A series of potent and wet storms came in with fluctuating snow levels. Fortunately, it all fell as snow above 7,500′ and it’s safe to assume that the upper slopes of Mt. Shasta received over 8′ of snowfall this week. After the warm system on Wednesday, the temps dropped and we received another 2 feet of colder snow to deliver excellent powder skiing conditions.

Mt. Shasta backcountry skiing

Mt. Shasta backcountry skiing

We finally had a break in the weather and fantastic high pressure sunny skies for the weekend as Mt. Shasta is holding excellent skiing from the chairlifts at The Mt. Shasta Ski Park to the earned turns in the Mt. Shasta Backcountry. It has been beautiful with all the winter weather and sky-high ski stoke here in far northern California.

Mt. Shasta backcountry skiers

Mt. Shasta backcountry skiers

A deep winter snowpack and regular storms not only benefit the powder skier, but these storms will ensure that the climbing, ski mountaineering, and backpacking trips will have excellent conditions. Without question, Mt. Shasta will be primed for outdoor recreation all year long.

Mt. Shasta West Face and Casaval Ridge 2017

Mt. Shasta West Face and Casaval Ridge 2017

With the abundant snow conditions and growing interest in backcountry skiing; our guides have been busy teaching Avalanche Courses and leading ski tours this winter. Dane Brinkley has been showing guests the charm and unique terrain from the Beyond the Boundaries program hosted with the Mt. Shasta Ski Park. Nick Caselli is our resident split-board guide and ready to share his expertise with snowboarders getting into the backcountry.

Earning a long run on Mt. Shasta

Earning a long run on Mt. Shasta

Backcountry Skiing Mt. Shasta, CA

Backcountry Skiing Mt. Shasta, CA

We’ve been working in partnership with our local Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center this season and are hosting the free monthly Avalanche Awareness presentations at our downtown shop. It’s been a full turnout this year and it’s great to see so many enthusiastic for learning. February 3rd is the next date. Nick Meyers is the Lead Avalanche Forecaster and Climbing Ranger on Mt. Shasta and works tirelessly to educate the public, thanks Nick! I always enjoy the opportunity to tour with Nick and observe him in action. Not a bad office:

Nick Meyers

Nick Meyers Lead Avalanche Forecaster

We are entering into one of the most exciting weeks of our winter season. Not only is there another storm coming with 1-2′ of snow expected, but there is a great weekend of activities planned for the backcountry enthusiast.

Mt. Shasta Ascension Race

Mt. Shasta Ascension Race

Mt. Shasta Snowball!

Mt. Shasta Snowball!

Saturday there will be the annual Mt. Shasta Ascension Backcountry Ski Race, free demo day at the Mt. Shasta Ski Park, and Shasta Mountain Guides is offering a free Intro to Backcountry Ski tour. To top it off, Saturday night is the highly anticipated 15th Annual Mt. Shasta Snowball. I’m tired just writing all that, hope to see you here, it’s going to be a blast!

The winter is still early and we have a solid base to guarantee an excellent season. As guides we are a local resource available to answer your specific questions and are happy to share our daily observations. Please be safe out there and always remember to check the daily avalanche advisory:

Mt. Shasta Avalanche Advisory.

Have fun and see you on the mountain!

Mt. Shasta Backcountry Report

It’s November and late fall and early winter can be extremely variable on a Cascade Volcano. At least for us, it has been remarkable in the high quality conditions for ski and splitboard touring. Mt. Shasta received nearly 400% of precipitation (about 12″ of water) for October and with some November storms, our pack is currently measuring 4-6′ above treeline.

Broadway ski tour Mt. Shasta, CA

Broadway ski tour Mt. Shasta, CA

November ushered in our first true powder days of the new season. Ryan Ghelfi, SMG guide and professional runner inspired a dawn patrol ski tour that delivered an all-time powder day on Mt. Shasta. The early storms were warm and created a dense, smooth base. The final storms were much colder with snow levels down to 5,000′ and dropped 16″ of pow, still undisturbed by the wind. We scored!

Green Butte ridge Mt. Shasta, CA

Ryan scores first powder tuns of the new season

We both were amazed at the quality of the snow. The overall depth is still relatively shallow but the dense structure made for mid-winter conditions.

Mt. Shasta backcountrty powder skiing

Mt. Shasta backcountry powder skiing

Our last precip event was last night (11/11) and otherwise it has been a mild and sunny weather pattern. The fair weather and dense snow has created seriously smooth corn conditions between 8-11,000′ and excellent skiing. Although this changes rapidly.

November powder skiing Mt. Shasta, CA

November powder skiing Mt. Shasta, CA

The mild temps have receded the snow level and it’s necessary to walk about 10-15 minutes before being able to skin-up. The approach to treeline and back down is shallow; caution advised to minimize damage to equipment and self. However, the rewards are worth the effort and above 8,200′ is excellent. We have a smooth, consolidated snow pack and with proper timing and aspect awesome skiing and riding conditions can be found.

Taking snow depth measurements while touring to Lake Helen

Taking snow depth measurements while touring to Lake Helen

I’ve seen a surprising number of visiting skiers and climbers and it’s fun to welcome everyone to our area. It has been amazingly beautiful with fall colors, the low sun creates a glowing effect with the snowcapped Mt. Shasta standing majestically over town, and truly epic sun and clouds lately. We are so grateful to live here and share this experience with friends.

It looks like we’ll see some more precipitation next week and long term forecasts are calling for wet ending to November. Once we have 4-5′ of snow at Bunny Flat we will start leading ski tours. We are super excited about the jump start to our season and hope that this is a bountiful winter for all.

Early morning ski tour Green Butte Mt. Shasta, CA

Early morning ski tour Green Butte Mt. Shasta, CA

How much snow did Mt. Shasta receive?

Enough to enjoy the best, earliest, mid winter powder day we’ve ever experienced!

Mt. Shasta Avalanche Gulch 10.18.16

Mt. Shasta Avalanche Gulch 10.18.16

Enough to cover the bare volcanic slopes with a mid winter snow surface. The recent Pineapple Express/Atmospheric River delivered between 4-6″ of water and above 8,500′ or so that all fell as snow and it is glorious!

Ski Avalanche Gulch Mt. Shasta 10.18.16

Ski Avalanche Gulch Mt. Shasta 10.18.16

With confidance in the snow pack and ideal structure (dense to light) the skin up and the ski down were excellent with no concern of hitting obstacles and buried boulders, amazing for mid October!

Mt. Shasta Avalanche Gulch 10.18.16

Mt. Shasta Avalanche Gulch 10.18.16

My highpoint was Lake Helen 10,400′ and snow depths measured between 5-7′ with an uneven distribution. There were plenty of wide open slopes that offered full coverage and a supportive base (ski pen was only 5-15cm) but also areas that were scoured by the ever present winds. Snow coverage below treeline was significantly less and may not last through the upcoming warm temps (70* by Friday)

Mt. Shasta Avalanche Gulch 8,000'

Mt. Shasta Avalanche Gulch 8,000′

I was actually quite shocked at the depth and quality of the snow. This was the earliest I’ve ever skied with such excelllent conditions but I’m not making any predictions on what the rest of the winter will bring. We’ll just take it day by day and enjoy the rare early season powder introduction and hope the winter continues with this trend.

Stay tuned for more updates and details from us here at SMG. We are thrilled at the prospect of early season skiing and buliding our snowpack and filling our reservoirs with an abundant winter! Be safe and enjoy the backcountry, Happy Halloween!

Mt. Shasta summer photos and update

It’s suddenly August and the summer has been scorching! Mt. Shasta has been the place to beat the heat with alpine climbing, hiking, backpacking, and cooling off in high mountain lakes and rivers. We have had an amazing season and we want to update on current conditions and share some great photos from our guests and guides.

Rocking the summit Joey, Marcus and JC

Rocking the summit Joey, Marcus and JC

Currently the north side is holding the best conditions. The home of California’s largest glaciers, this aspect is the perfect destination for a mid-late summer climb. As the summer progresses the snow melts and the surface becomes sun-cupped, textured, and icy; increasing the challenge and hazards. Due to melting snow and increased rock fall we have ceased guiding the south side (Avalanche Gulch, West Face Gully) climbing routes.

Climbing Hotlum-Bolam Ridge Mt. Shasta

Climbing Hotlum-Bolam Ridge Mt. Shasta  photo Adam Z.

Now that the season is slowing down we have time to reflect on what an incredible year 2016 has been. We started with a bountiful winter and spring that delivered a deep snowpack to Mt. Shasta and created the best climbing conditions we’ve seen in years.

Mt. Shasta, CA summer powder skiing

Mt. Shasta, CA summer powder skiing  photo: Peter G.

This was enhanced by a summer snow storm that delivered a couple feet of new snow in June and extended the season a few weeks for good skiing and climbing.

Mt. Shasta, CA summit plateau

Mt. Shasta, CA summit plateau  photo Cobi K.

One of the highlights of our work is the amazing people we get to meet and share adventures with. The fact that we get to do this on Mt. Shasta, a Cascade gem and peak admired across the globe is the icing on the cake. Thanks to all of our guests this year and our crew of the “best guides on the planet.”

Stoked on Shasta!

Stoked on Shasta!  photo Mike W.

We still have about a month remaining and will be climbing on the Hotlum Glacier and Hotlum-Bolam Ridge. These glacier climbs are a great introduction to more technical climbing and will hold good conditions through September.

Guides camp on the river, planning the next mission

Riverside basecamp planning the next mission

As mentioned above our highlight is our people, both guests and guides. Thanks to our crew for an amazing season thus far, you all absoluteley rock it safely, professionally, and in good style. Here’s looking forward to the final trips of 2016 and personal adventures ahead!

Breast Cancer Fund Climb Update

Check out the story map of the Breast Cancer Funds climb of the West Face so far this morning. All climbers are between 11-12,000 ft and continuing up. Mild temperatures and light winds are making for a great morning of climbing.

BCF Map Journal

Climb Against the Odds Mt Shasta 2016

Climb teams are assembling at Bunny Flat this morning to begin the Breast Cancer Fund’s Climb Against the Odds – Mt. Shasta 2016. 17 climbers, survivors, and supporters who’s lives have been affected by the disease will attempt to summit Mt. Shasta via the West Face route.

These amazing men and women have trained and fundraised over the past year to help further the mission of the Breast Cancer Fund to identify and eliminate the environmental and preventable causes of Breast Cancer. We are grateful to each and every one of them for their commitment and generosity. You can follow the progress of the teams as they make their way to base camp today(June 21st) and up the mountain tomorrow (June 22nd) on the map posted here courtesy of Firewhat. Firewhat integrates Delorme and Spot satellite tracking devices with Esri ArcGIS Server to create a customizable live map view of teams in the field.

Follow the teams here

For more information please visit Firewhat

And for more details as the climb progresses visit the Breast Cancer Fund blog Prevention Starts Here

Good luck, climb safe, and have a great adventure. Thanks for watching!

Mt. Shasta Climbing Route Photos and Report

Mt. Shasta has been the place to be this week. As the weather forecast showed signs of improving, there was a buzz around the near pefect climbing and skiing conditions on the southern Cascade volcano. Newly opened trailheads were allowing access and a long holiday weekend brought the snow craved masses to our tiny northern California town.

Avalanche Gulch awaits photo: C. Krumholz

Avalanche Gulch awaits photo: C. Krumholz

And for good reason, Mt. Shasta was glorious. The amount of joy and stoke was immeasurable by the looks of the smiling, sun burned faces on the mountain. We’re still glowing from a great weekend and now fully primed for a full summer of climbs, backpacking trips, and seminars.

Red Banks climb team Mt. Shasta photo: C. Krumholz

Red Banks climb team Mt. Shasta photo: C. Krumholz

At SMG our entire staff was out either for work or for play and found each aspect to offer classic Mt. Shasta spring adventures. On Sunday teams climbed the West Face, Casaval Ridge, and Avalanche Gulch. Monday teams climbed via Avalanche Gulch and the Hotlum-Wintun Ridge.

West Face Mt. Shasta perfect conditions

West Face Mt. Shasta perfect conditions

No matter where your chosen line, there was nothing but ideal snow for crampons and smooth snow for skis and snowboards. Guides all remarked how absolutely perfect the climbing currently is on all routes on Mt. Shasta, the best it’s been in years.

Alpine climbing Avalanche Gulch photo: M. Whitman

Alpine climbing Avalanche Gulch photo: M. Whitman

This week is bringing hot temps and conditions will start to change. The skiing is still holding good above 9,000′ but with warm temps the lower mountain is getting sun cupped and textured. Casaval Ridge is still decent but the cat-walk is melting fast and the traverse sections are showing rocks as well.

Climbing the catwalk Casaval Ridge photo: A. Zok

Climbing the catwalk Casaval Ridge photo: A. Zok

There is always lots of anticipation around the opening of alternate trailheads. Currently you can drive to within 1.5 miles of the Brewer Creek trailhead. We ventured over for a visit to climb and ski one of Mt. Shasta’s classic ski lines, the Hotlum-Wintun ridge. It’s hard to argue this status when looking down the immense northeast face and rearly 8,000′ of relief.

Hot Tune ski Mt. Shasta, CA

Hot Tune ski Mt. Shasta, CA

 

Thumb Rock sunrise photo: Cobi Krumholz

Thumb Rock sunrise photo: Cobi Krumholz

We’re pretty excited to have a “normal” season once again. With an abundant snow pack, mild weather, and summer vacation on the horizon, grand adventure awaits!

Avalanche Gulch and West Face will be great through July and maybe longer and the north side glaciers will climb well into September this year.

Congratulations to all the climbers recently, it’s been a super fun start to the season and we’re stoked for summer on the mountain!

Mt. Shasta Spring Update

Spring on Mt. Shasta is an exciting prospect and each day brings something new; an updated weather forecast, cool tempertures, sun, wind, maybe even some new snow. Such is spring in the Cascades. Our weather in California can be stable and consistant but in early spring of an El Niño year, anything is possible.

Mt. Shasta Hidden Valley basecamp

Mt. Shasta Hidden Valley basecamp and West Face route

One of the challenges of mountaineering is to manage our goals and attitude to reflect the current reality. It’s easy as climbers to focus on the end result, did you stand on the summit or not? But the adventure of alpinism absolutely lies in the process. And if we ignore the beauty and struggles of the entire expedition and judge our success on whether or not we reach the summit, then we’ve missed the whole point.

all smiles in Avalanche Gulch Mt. Shasta

all smiles in Avalanche Gulch Mt. Shasta

With the variable weather and unseasonably cold temps, reaching the summit has been especially challenging this month (May 2016) on Mt. Shasta. We’ve carved small windows of opportunity from the weather forecast, adjusted our climb schedule to maximize climbing chances, bundled under layers of fleece and down and huddled from the blowing wind. The truth is, not everyone reaches the summit; goals fall short and objectives un-met. It’s easy to feel disappointed but we want to remember that whatever our high point, just by choosing to climb and taking that first step, we’ve already accomplished so much pushing beyond our comfort zone. Congratulations to all climbers, whatever your high point is.

Alpine start Mt. Shasta, CA

Alpine start Mt. Shasta, CA

Early spring and summer on Mt. Shasta is one of our favorite times of the year. With cool evenings, mild days and occasional storms smoothing out the snow surface. We joke of our recreational stress syndrome (R.S.S.) and manage the affliction with a cold beer on the tailgate or camp chair after a full day. Morning ski tours followed by afternoon bike rides. Do you pack the climbing gear or load the kayaks, mountain or road bike, glacier hike or trail run? So many decisions…

S. Fork Sacramento River Clean Up. SMG guides pulled out a ton of garbage and junk from this pristine watershed

S. Fork Sacramento River Clean Up. SMG guides pulled out a ton of garbage and junk from this pristine watershed

We at SMG are locals, we live in Mt. Shasta, this is our home and our guides are like family. This past week on a perfect spring day, we had a group of guides volunteer their time to help with an annual project that SMG supports; a garbage clean up of public lands. Special thanks to Adam, Razor, Aysha, T.L., and Chris who filled 2 large trucks with garbage, appliances, and junk from the South Fork of the Sacramento River drainage. Bravo!

Currently there is 2-3 feet of snow at Bunny Flat, this and the Northgate trailhead are the only trailheads accessible. Clear Creek is 2-3 miles and Brewer Creek is between 5-6 miles to reach the trailhead.

Our calendar is rapidly filling, please be in touch if you have any questions or wish to join a Mt. Shasta summit climb. Good luck, be safe, and enjoy Mt. Shasta!

Mt. Shasta climb report: Casaval Ridge

The SMG climbing season is off to a great start. Our first team of the season found alpine climbing success last week on one of Mt. Shasta’s most coveted lines, Casaval Ridge. This route report is from Senior Guide Patrick Chu, who along with Ryan Sorenson and Cobi Krumholz led 6 climbers to the summit. Special thanks to Adrian Fehr for the beautiful photos from the climb.
Special report from Patrick Chu:
Casaval Ridge is an early season favorite for climbers seeking a challenging and aesthetic alternative to the more well-traveled routes on Mt Shasta. Splitting the west and south faces of the mountain, Casaval Ridge is visible from miles away with its grand jagged gendarmes and steep dropoffs.
Casaval ridge from basecamp Mt. Shasta. ph: Adrian Fehr

Casaval ridge from basecamp Mt. Shasta. ph: Adrian Fehr

The climb is characterized by sustained steep climbing and traversing on exposed slopes, broken by a few “crux” sections requiring short pitches. The route is best climbed when the mountain has bountiful snow levels and stable avalanche conditions. Fortunately, we couldn’t have asked for better conditions during our three-day climb April 15-17, 2016
Casaval Ridge Mt. Shasta

Casaval Ridge Mt. Shasta

A team of seven climbers and three guides departed from Bunny Flat on April 15th under stellar, blue bird conditions. A short three-hour approach put us at our basecamp at 9,600′. Perched at the top of Giddy Giddy Gulch, the basecamp for Casaval Ridge provides excellent views of Avalanche Gulch, Casaval Ridge, Sargents Ridge as well as the Castle Crags to the south and Trinity Alps to the west. After setting up camp, reviewing climbing techniques, and enjoying a delicious cous-cous dinner, we were in bed early for a 3AM start.
Sunset from Casaval Ridge Mt. Shasta ph: Adrian Fehr

Sunset from Casaval Ridge Mt. Shasta ph: Adrian Fehr

Firm snow conditions underfoot and clear skies made for fast travel in the night. We turned off our headlamps a few times at breaks to enjoy incredible views of stars, planets, and the occasional satellite shooting across the Milky Way.
Climbers nearing 12,000' Mt. Shasta ph: P. Chu

Climbers nearing 12,800′ Mt. Shasta ph: P. Chu

The sun began to rise when we were nearing 11,500′ providing warmth, better visibility, and a boost to our morale knowing we were making excellent progress up the route. The upper mountain had been affected by recent wind and snow which made the climbing difficult. We opted to move slightly towards the west face which provided an opportunity for some interesting climbing and route finding around the rime towers that stand before the 13,000′ plateau.
Casaval Ridge Mt. Shasta ph: Adrian Fehr

Casaval Ridge Mt. Shasta ph: Adrian Fehr

The rest of the climb to the summit was relatively simple and straightforward, though at 13,000′ climbers often feel the draining effects of the thin air and effort of the climb. Our pace slowed, but our determination remained strong and we stood on the summit at 14,179′ after 8 hours of climbing from basecamp.
Mt. Shasta summit cone ph: Adrian Fehr

Mt. Shasta summit cone ph: Adrian Fehr

We made our way back to camp where we celebrated a great climb with high fives, lots of water, and a well-deserved nap; The stoke was high despite a long and demanding summit climb as people stretched out and relaxed knowing that the hard work was behind us. This trip confirmed for me that Casaval Ridge is a must do for experienced climbers on Mt Shasta. The position, exposure, and sustained pitch of the route make it a worthy adventure for the intermediate to expert mountaineer alike.
Perfect climbing on Mt. Shasta ph: Adrian Fehr

Perfect climbing on Mt. Shasta ph: Adrian Fehr

Thanks to the team and the guides for a safe, fun, and successful climb!
The 2016 season is on and we have a full calendar of climbs, ski descents, and glacier seminars. See you on Mt. Shasta!

Mt. Shasta spring update and conditions report

It’s early spring on Mt. Shasta and this can mean many things. The sun may shine above a bank of clouds or we may be engulfed in a sea of fog. The weather may be mild and skiing sublime, or a winter-like storm with snow falling to town level. This is exactly what we have this week on Mt. Shasta, every day bringing changing weather and a variety of conditions.

Skiing Casaval Ridge Mt. Shasta, CA

Styles Larsen skiing Casaval Ridge Mt. Shasta, CA April 2016

We’ve seen mild temps with high freezing and snow levels, the skiing and climbing have been variable with good conditions found in the right places. That will change as a cold front approaches and looks to drop 6-12″ of new snow by Thursday 4/14. In other words, a spring powder day and chance to savor winter’s chilly winds and fresh snow. The front will quickly pass and be replaced by high pressure and above average temps by the weekend 4/16.

Sean Malee skis Powder Bowl, Mt. Shasta April 2016

Sean Malee skis Powder Bowl, Mt. Shasta April 2016

This is a fairly typical spring pattern with mild weather interrupted by short storms and moderate amounts of precipitation. Our first summit trip is planned on Casaval Ridge 4/15-17. With all the snow this year, this route is once again in excellent condition. Casaval requires a deep snowpack for best climbing and Mt. Shasta is well above average. We were scouting and skiing the lower route this week and found good snow and fun conditions.

Casaval Ridge Mt. Shasta, CA

Casaval Ridge Mt. Shasta, CA

This year’s snowpack is ideal for all the climbing and skiing routes on Mt. Shasta. Each will have it’s optimal window of best conditions with a long season anticipated. We’re gearing up and can’t wait to see our crew back for the upcoming climbing season. Our guide staff is what makes the experience with Shasta Mountain Guides unique. They are  genuinely committed to helping you achieve your goal while having a good time doing it.

Basecamp Hidden Valley Mt. Shasta, CA

Senior staff Rich Meyer, Eric Layton, Pat Bush at Hidden Valley Mt. Shasta, CA

As locals, we cherish not only the mountain but the surrounding area and are blessed with all manner of raw natural beauty. Wherever your interest lies for outdoor recreation, the Mt. Shasta area is abundant with quality experiences for all levels of adventure. We invite you to Far Northern California; Mt. Shasta will surprise you with accessible terrain for all.

Come visit our shop and store front at 230 N. Mt. Shasta Blvd. We’re adding products and will be hosting full time open hours this spring and summer. See you on Mt. Shasta!