Mt. Shasta This Weekend!

The big news is the pineapple express aka atmospheric river headed our way. Two back to back plumes of moisture will bring several inches of water to Northern California. Snow levels start high but could be below town by Sunday morning.  The trailhead at Bunny Flat will see snow and we’ll be measuring multiple feet by the time we’re done; and there’s more next week, stay tuned…

Good time to launch our first course of 2016 with our AIARE Level I Avalanche Seminar starting tomorrow, Friday January 29. David Reichel and Dane Brinkley will be leading the training and sharing their skills and experience.

Nick Meyers lead Avalanche Forecaster performs stability tests on Mt. Shasta

Nick Meyers Lead Forecaster at the Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center performs snow stability tests on Mt. Shasta

Along with all this winter weather magic is another weekend full of fun activities on the Mountain. Saturday January 30th Mt. Shasta Nordic will host the free Snowschool Workshop. 12-4:00pm at the Nordic Center. As guide partners with Winter Wildland’s Alliance, this will be a great way to introduce our youth to the backcountry.

The Mt. Shasta Ski Park is celebrating 30 years on Saturday with a full day of fun events lined up. Live music, fireworks, and powder skiing Saturday, should be a blast! Congrats to the Ski Park for providing 30 years of fun to Mt. Shasta locals and visitors, it’s a true community asset!

Untracked in the Mt. Shasta Backcountry

Untracked in the Mt. Shasta Backcountry

It’s been a wonderful winter thus far in Northern California, the skiing has been consistantly fun and fresh and the growing depths of our snowpack is ensuring an awesome climbing and ski mountaineering season on Mt. Shasta. Check in if you’re headed this way, we love sharing what we do!

SMG/The Fifth Season Backcountry Ski Report 1.1.15

Happy New Year! January 1, 2015 finds high pressure and cooler, breezy conditions on Mt. Shasta. The storms have cleared and left behind chilly temps (for California) and cold winds on the Mountain.

After a couple weeks of much needed powder skiing, we are back to a variable snow surface where backcountry riders will find a wide array of snow surfaces to slide on. The avalanche hazard is low and the snow is mostly smooth, but expect more challenging conditions in the backcounty due to the cold temps and wind. It’s possible will find soft snow in deposited areas or warmed from the sun on steep south east aspects; you’ll also find crusts, windboard, wind drifts, and even some ice in places. The coverage is good and touring generally enjoyable.

New Year's Eve on Grey Butte

New Year’s Eve on Grey Butte

We are enjoying the sunny winter days but would like to see the storm track swing back our way. The clear skies allow many options, it’s a good time to explore different objectives; seeking the experience with friends and family over the thrill of powder skiing and riding. We’ve checked some of the regular winter stashes, it’s still early and we’re hoping for more low elevation snow, but it’s no less fun to be out with friends on skis.

South peak in early season conditions

Middle peak in early season conditions

The cold, clear nights have been creating areas with significant surface hoar growth. We have not observed this on the Mt. Shasta (likely from the wind) but lower elevation, northerly aspects, and places near water sources (lakes, creeks, etc) will most certainly see surface hoar development. It will be interesting to keep track of this layer once we start to receive new snow. Buried surface hoar is the number 1 cause of skier triggred avalanches in the backcountry.

Surface hoar crystals are angular and have a feathery appearance

Surface hoar crystals are angular and have a feathery appearance

If you’re not familar with surface hoar and what to look for in the backcountry, we are hosting our first AIARE Level I Avalanche Senminar January 17-19 and have a few spaces available. Do your friends and partners a favor and be prepared for winter bc travel.

The Mt. Shasta Ski Park is open and the conditions are pretty good. This is a great ski hill for the whole family, with easy access to Grey Butte, a super fun backcountry option. The local Nordic Center is also open with about 20 km of groomed trails.

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Upcoming Events

January 2nd Free Avalanche Awareness

January 3rd Companion rescue and beacon training

January 10th Mt. Shasta Backcountry Film Festival

January 24th Ascension Backcountry Uphill Race

January 24th Snowball!

Spring conditions this week on Mt. Shasta

What a season…With fluctuations in the snow levels, we have been seeing rain up to 8,500′ dropping to 6,000′. By Monday morning temps had dropped and we had over a foot of new, cold snow above treeline. Add some steady winds from the north and we had avalanche concern for steeper south aspects on the upper mountain. The concern was confirmed when we skied up to a group who had triggered an avalanche that partially buried 4 of the 5 snow sliders in upper Anaconda Gulch on 3.10. Close call, heads up out there, we have had several storm systems with little time for the snow pack to adjust to the recent loads.

Climbing Casaval Ridge

Climbing Casaval Ridge

With careful route planning excellent snow conditions can be found.

Mt. Shasta backcountry conditions perfect!

Mt. Shasta backcountry conditions perfect!

Regular storms and light winds has delivered excellent ski conditions on the mountain. We are looking at several days of high pressure and warming temps, we may see 70 in town by this weekend. With that in mind we will likely see many Shastafarians enjoying the near perfect conditions, a welcome sight after a dry winter.

Snowboarding past avalanche debris in Avalanche Gulch

Snowboarding past avalanche debris in Avalanche Gulch

We’re stoked about the recent snow, we are still below average however. This may be a good year to be on Shasta earlier than later in the season. Unless of course, March and April return with wet weather and added snow. It’s never too late for winter conditions on the mountain.

We have our last AIARE Avalanche Course starting Friday. Upcoming guide training and summit season coming soon. Keep up the snow dance!

Mt. Shasta Winter Report

Snowcopalypse, Powmageddon, Blizzard of 2012, whatever you call it, we are buried deep in Mt. Shasta! We welcomed the end of the Mayan calendar and there are now some enlightened skiers in Northern California. From the Sierra to Cascades, the snow came in deep and fast. We like to think of it as the insta-snowpack. Starting in early December, a near record breaking storm delivered over 10 feet of snow to the upper mountain elevations. A perfect pattern to saturate the ground and provide a thick plaster layer that will adhere to the mountain through July. Then starting on December 20th, we received a series of storms bringing an additional 5-7 feet of snow. These systems had lower snow levels and blanketed the Mt. Shasta Ski Park and town with an impressive amount of precip for so early in the season. The storms continued right through the holidays and we had a very white Christmas indeed. Within a short time, we went from bare ground to full winter coverage and excellent conditions, is it too early to say Epic ?

Mt. Shasta Christmas Eve 2012

Mt. Shasta Christmas Eve 2012

This is great news for us outdoor recreationists. Not only has the skiing and snowboarding been off the hook deep powder for the last week, but this snow guarantees we will have an enjoyable climbing and ski season with snowpack values over 150% of normal at this time. Very, very cool!

We are in full winter operations at SMG (translation: skiing every day!). There are many great ways to get involved. The sport of backcountry skiing and boarding is booming and the Mt. Shasta area is ground zero for getting into the backcountry. For the complete first timer, check out our Introduction to Backcountry Skiing day tour, or the Ski Park’s Beyond the Boundaries, led by our Senior Guide Dane Brinkley. If you have some experience, our Serendipity Day Tour will get you to the goods and by now you know that you need an Avalanche Course, we are AIARE Course Providers and offer a super high quality Level I and II on and around Mt. Shasta.

Mt. Shasta Backcountry Skiing

Mt. Shasta Backcountry Skiing

The winter recreation on Mt. Shasta is unparalleled. The quiet and potentially raw beauty of a snow covered Mt. Shasta is beyond words, we invite you to experience it for yourself. With the winter elements, comes additional hazard we have to recognize and manage in order to have a successful outing. Check the Mt. Shasta Avalanche Forecast, call us, learn the skills properly, and always be vigilant when in the backcountry.

Coyote Butte Avalanche

Coyote Butte Avalanche

With all the recent snow, we did see some significant recent avalanche activity. This is the greatest indication of current hazard, so please choose your terrain carefully and make conservative decisions until things settle down. We are out daily, call for details.

Coyote Butte 6,600′ NE R4/D3 natural avalanche 12.23.12

The Everett Highway and Castle Lake Road are currently closed from the abundant snowfall. We will update as conditions change and County Road crews get things open again. In the meantime, we are being creative in our tours. This roadside attraction rarely has enough snow, but when it does, the turns are a unique treat. Powder skiing on Black Butte!

Black Butte Powder!

Black Butte Powder!