Mt. Shasta Report March 2017

It’s March and we’re in the midst of a banner season on Mt. Shasta and California. In most years an atmospheric river or two is all we need to ensure a decent snowpack; this year we’re up to nine and counting. Mt. Shasta has just entered into the top ten wettest winters on record and the news of California’s drought ending winter is indeed something to celebrate.

Mt. Shasta March 2017

Mt. Shasta March 2017

For snow riders this came in the form of back to back powder days and over the head snow that revitalized the spirit of California’s skiers and snowboarders. We’ll be talking about this one for awhile, both the quality of snow conditions and amount of shoveling this year!

Backcountry snowboarding Mt. Shasta, CA

Backcountry snowboarding Mt. Shasta, CA

The Cascade Range which Mt. Shasta flanks the southern end is dependant upon our winter snowpack for optimal spring and summer climbing. The winter of 2017 finds us over 150% of normal so far and we’re not done yet. Translation; this will be an excellent year to explore Mt. Shasta on skis, crampons, boots, or boards.

Ski touring Avalanche Gulch Mt. Shasta

Ski touring Avalanche Gulch Mt. Shasta

It’s a guarantee that we will have a deep consolidated snowpack and will enjoy exceptional climbing and skiing for the entire summer. This winter has been a welcome relief for many craving snow and stormy weather.

This short video attempts to capture one of our highlights of winter travel; being on Mt. Shasta after a clearing storm. It is truly breathtaking and a beautiful landscape. We invite you to visit and experience your own adventure on North America’s most sacred peak.

The climbing season is quickly approaching and it’s time to kick your training and preparation into high gear. Are you interested in climbing Mt. Shasta? This is the year and the time is now! Let us help you have the experience of a lifetime!

Casaval Ridge Mt.Shasta, CA ph: F. Coots

Casaval Ridge Mt.Shasta, CA ph: F. Coots

There are a couple trips coming up that will be excellent with this year’s deep snowpack. Our 4 day Ski Mountaineering Seminar has lofty goals of making a ski descent of both Mt. Shasta and Shastina. It’s going to be awesome! The ever classic Casaval Ridge ascent will be in prime shape this season, we have dates confirmed for this alpine route. April and May will be best for both the ridges and ski descents.

It’s going to be a long season on Mt. Shasta and we anticipate most routes will be optimal all summer long. Get in touch and let us share the beauty and thrill of a Mt. Shasta adventure!

-Chris C.

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!

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 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!

Mt. Shasta post monsoon report and storm update

It was a wet and wild week in the north state; rain poured, snow raged and accumulated in impressive amounts. We received 8-10″ of rain and likely over 10′ of new snow above 7,000′ on Mt. Shasta. When I sunk my 8′ snow probe into the pack I was not able to reach the old layer at 9,000′.

Ski touring Broadway, Mt. Shasta, CA

Ski touring Broadway, Mt. Shasta, CA

Currently we’re measuring 175″ at 7,600′; that’s almost 15 FEET of snow on lower Mt. Shasta! Yes, the spring and summer will be spectacular! Snow levels jumped around but generally were above 5,000′ for much of the storm cycles. The weather station reported periods of snowfall of 3″ per hour which is intense snow accumulation.

This is what skiing looked like during the storm Saturday when every turn on the 8,000′ Gray Butte produced blinding face shots. The Swedes drove 2,000 miles on a powder pilgramage and scored on Mt. Shasta. Thanks Joakim for the video and stoke, great to ski with you all!

It’s easy to be excited as climbers and skiers but in the bigger picture we are truly grateful. Shasta Lake, just down the road from us and California’s largest reservoir reached 79 percent capacity — and 108 percent of its historic average — on Monday. With a couple more storms and a healthy spring runoff it may actually be full as we approach summer, something that hasn’t happened in 4 years and a big thumbs up for the fish, farmers, and fire fighters.

Skiing uphill is fun!

Skiing uphill is fun!

The latest series of storms has cleared and the mountain started to poke out from behind the curtains of clouds. Amazingly, the snow consolidated and we enjoyed excellent ski conditions up to about 9,000′ before wind and poor visibility sent us back down to the trees. It looks like today (3/15) will be the first clear weather and mild temps before the next wave of precipitation approachs this weekend. Blue skies and mild temps on tap for the rest of the week.

As always check the Mt. Shasta Avalanche Advisory and get ready for a prolonged ski season on Mt. Shasta!

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Upcoming 

April 22-25 Ski Mountaineering Seminar

Mt. Shasta Winter Backcountry Report

Winter 2016 has delivered on the hope of an abundant snowpack on Mt. Shasta. Storms were consistant in December and January and basically shut off in February with record warm days. Currently our snowpack is 90% of normal and 130% of normal for water, measuring about 116″ at 7,600′. With the outlook of a very wet March, this will only guarantee the prospect of an epic spring and summer on Mt. Shasta. Climbers and skiers are rejoicing!

Mt. Shasta 2016 ph: J.W.

Mt. Shasta 2016 ph: J.W.

The storm track looks to return and the hype is building to a proclamation of massive amounts of water headed to nearly all of California. The QPF totals keep increasing and as of now, the current prediction is anywhere from 6-12″ of water. This can translate to well over 10′ of snow across the Sierra crest and the southern Volcanoes. All we can say is Bring it On!

Backcountry skiing Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Backcountry skiing Shasta-Trinity National Forest

While we wait, we prep our bodies and gear and reflect on what a great winter it has been thus far. The powder has been enjoyed at all the old local zones once again. The spell of high pressure created enjoyable days on the mountain, seeking corn snow and even summits for the enthusiastic. Tall snow banks greet visitors at most trailheads and we anticipate snow to linger well into the summer months.

Backcountry skiing Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Backcountry skiing Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Ski touring is perfect training for the upcoming mountaineering season on Mt. Shasta. Climbing the Cascade Volcanoes is greatly enhanced with a deep snowpack and we’re eager for what will be an excellent summit season on the mountain.

Climbing Avalanche Gulch Mt. Shasta, CA

Climbing Avalanche Gulch Mt. Shasta, CA

We’re excited for what the next week will bring. The storm total mania has us hoping for the upper limit of the forecast and plotting powder days to come. With storms of this magnitude, be sure to check weather updates and warnings and of course the daily avalanche advisory from the Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center. Be safe in the backcountry and we’ll see you on the mountain!

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Upcoming Events:

March 5th: Film showing of Dream Line to benefit Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center

March 8: REI Berkeley Mt. Shasta climbing presentation by Chris Carr

March 9: REI San Francisco Mt. Shasta climbing presentation by Chris Carr