Mt. Shasta Climb Report and Current Conditions 5.27.15

Climbing season on Mt. Shasta just went into high gear. With a festive holiday and near perfect snow and weather, mountaineers who made the journey to Northern California were rewarded with Mt. Shasta in ideal late spring conditions.

West Face Mt. Shasta May 2015  ph: C. Krumholz

West Face Mt. Shasta May 2015 ph: C. Krumholz

The mountain received new snow last week and with an improving weather window, the conditions in the alpine zone were beautiful. A reliable boot pack facilitated the climbing and the refreshed snow surface made for epic glissading and skiing on all aspects.

Mt. Shasta shadow West Face  ph: C. Krumholz

Mt. Shasta shadow West Face ph: C. Krumholz

SMG had groups on the south, west, and north sides of Mt. Shasta and all the teams had climbers reach the summit. Avalanche Gulch was the choice for many, we counted over 70 tents at Lake Helen Saturday night. The West Face teams found ideal climbing and a full glissade from the top of the route all the way back to camp in Hidden Valley. Greg and Jonas led our ski mountaineering expedition to the Hotlum-Wintun and found classic Shasta skiing for 7,000′ of relief.

SMG Guide JC serves up dinner at high camp.

SMG Guide JC serves up dinner at high camp.

Although it was a little impacted in Avy Gulch the favorable conditions minimized hazards. We witnessed very little rock fall and all routes have great climbing and melt-freeze conditions. We anticipate the south side routes to have good conditions through June and probably longer and the north side routes to be good through August and beyond.

a 4,000' glissade down the West Face of Mt. shasta  ph: C. Krumholz

A 4,000′ glissade down the West Face of Mt. shasta ph: C. Krumholz

It’s always fun to see friends old and new and we love the inspiration! The postcard-perfect views were beautiful and the alpine conditions allowed us to sample a variety of temps and climbing techniques. It’s always such a joy to witness climbers have a great adventure, be pushed beyond their comfort zone, and achieve their goals. Over the years we’ve made many friends on Mt. Shasta, it’s the most enjoyable part of what we do, thanks for climbing with us!

Mt. Shasta summit team May 2015  ph: C. Krumholz

Mt. Shasta summit team May 2015 ph: C. Krumholz

Congratulations to all the climbers this week on Mt. Shasta. Now that we are moving into summer, we are settling into prime climbing season. Best conditions are here and now. See you on the mountain!


Upcoming Events

5/26 and 5/27 USFS Climbing Ranger Nick Meyers will be at REI Santa Rosa and REI Saratoga for Mt. Shasta climbing presentations.

June 6-7 American Liver Foundation Liver Life Challenge The Liver Life Challenge Mt. Shasta Climb, the American Liver Foundation’s annual mountaineering expedition to fight liver disease.

Look for exciting news from SMG, it’s going to be a great summer!

Mt. Shasta Climb Report 5.18.15

At our climb debrief Sunday afternoon, the guides came off the mountain raving about the great conditions on Mt. Shasta. You know it must be good when they reach the summit on Sunday and turn around early Monday morning to head right back up on their day off. The recent weather pattern has been a fairly “normal” spring. At any moment it could be snowing, sunny, windy, hot, cold, or complete whiteout. It changes frequently and when the sunny card turns up it can be magnificant!

Basecamp Mt. Shasta  ph: Mike Whitman

Good times at Basecamp Mt. Shasta ph: Mike Whitman

This is what we experienced this past weekend. At 3:00am Sunday morning, the snow and wind howled and our climb teams forged on by headlamp, hoping for a more favorable weather pattern with the rising sun.

SMG ski group climbs through the Red Banks Mt. Shasta

SMG ski group climbs through the Red Banks Mt. Shasta  ph: David Marchi

Hard work and persistance paid off by 7:00am when the clouds parted and allowed climbers and skiers to reach the summit in winter like conditions. As Senior Guide Eric Layton says The summit was not a give me over the weekend. The cold temps, high winds and around 4-6″ of new snow kept us in constant motion all the way to the top, only to be greeted by the warmth of the sun and a view that always inspires. Really good skiing out there right now too!!”


With more new snow this week, the climbing and skiing continue to be excellent on most routes on Mt. Shasta. As of now all trailheads are open and the upcoming Memorial Weekend looks to be a busy one here.

Mt. Shasta Summit May 17, 2015  ph: Mike Whitman

Mt. Shasta Summit May 17, 2015 ph: Mike Whitman

Mountain weather continues to be unsettled this week. Weather systems tend to be short lived this time of year, but can still pose significant challenges. Our guides are mountain professionals and watch the conditions closely while in the field. We can often plan our climb around potential weather windows and still have great success in poor or unfavorable conditions.

We are always so impressed with our guests and their desire to climb Mt. Shasta. We were thrilled to climb with Vy and Andrew this week from the Send It Foundation.

Vy and Andrew Sending It on Mt. Shasta

Vy and Andrew Sending It on Mt. Shasta  ph: Lauren Seymore


Congratulations to all our climbers this week, it was a true test and we experienced all of what Mt. Shasta can offer. Joe summed it up pefectly “…that was one of the best experiences of my entire life” Yup, we have to agree!

See you on the mountain!

Mt. Shasta current conditions report

Spring on northern California’s Mt. Shasta can bring just about anything. Sunny high pressure or cold winter snow, mild days or blowing winds; we love it all! Cool mornings, longer days and unlimited recreation! Now is your chance to climb Mt. Shasta.

High camp Avalanche Gulch

High camp Avalanche Gulch

Climbing Mt. Shasta is always a challenge and adventure and reaching the summit can be a great achievement. Students from the Drew School in San Francisco experienced this when they chose to spend their spring break on a mountaineering seminar here on Mt. Shasta. Mr. Colby and 8 high school seniors spent 4 days learning the ropes before a successful April summit, congratulations team!

With this year’s low snowpack, we have made several summit climbs and groups have reached the top in early spring conditions. Currently there is a low pressure system bringing new snow to the mountain and clouds and wind to the area. Our first guide training begins this weekend and we look forward to the return of our professional staff.

SMG's medical advisor Dr. Sean Malee enjoys the Spring conditions

SMG’s medical advisor Dr. Sean Malee enjoys the Spring conditions

Spring is one of our favorite seasons on the mountain. Backcountry skiing and alpine mountaineering are prime. It’s also time to bring out the bikes, boats, climbing racks, hiking boots, fishing rods, camp chairs, and mellow vibes for high season in far Northern California!

As we’ve discussed, this year we have a below average snow pack. With that in mind we expect best conditions for summit climbs to be May-June on south side routes and June-August for north side routes. NOAA is calling for several inches of new snow this week, this will make for some fun skiing and transitional snow for climbing. With enough new snow, we may see an increase in avalanche hazard, be vigilant and conservative with mountaineering hazards.

As always, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions at all, we are happy to help you plan your adventure.

Thank You! Mt. Shasta climbers, guides, and friends

September 16 was the final day of our 2013 climb and ski season on Mt. Shasta. Brandon Seymore led the strong team of  Shannon and David to the summit in full alpine conditions. Solid blue ice required multiple pitches of steep climbing and the route was full of added challenges. The final push up the summit cone the team endured hurricane winds and cold temps. Congratulations on a great effort! A fine way to cap the Mt. Shasta climbing season finishing on a high note!

Ice climbing on the Hotlum-Bolam

Ice climbing on the Hotlum-Bolam  photo: D. Webster

The south side of Mt. Shasta currently is completely barren of snow; save for a few small patches tucked into shady corners, the mountain is as dry as it gets. The north side glaciers, though sporting California’s only true permanent snow, are scree covered, sun cupped, and solid ice above 11,000′. Add to that a NOAA forecast of a wet cold front approaching the area with new snow expected this weekend and you have a recipe for difficult climbing conditions. We will schedule guided climbs once better conditions allow.

Basecamp on Shasta's northside

Mt. Shasta northside in fall  photo: M. Shamsee

2013 was Shasta Mountain Guides’ 32nd season of operation. As with previous years, our climber’s safety, enjoyment, and success is achieved through the diligent effort of our guide staff. This year’s crew is one of strongest, most dedicated group of fun and unique individuals we’ve ever seen. We can not express our gratitude enough. Thank you Rich, Dave, Dane, Kerr, Brian, Pierson, Pat, Jason, Patrick, Wilson, Joe C., Tucker, Greg, Andrew, Ryan G., Eric, Natalie, Ryan M., KP, David, Brandon, Jonas, Justin, Adam, and Joe Z.

Shasta Basecamp

Things we love: Alpine sunsets around Basecamp  ph: M. Shamsee

To those who climbed, skied, and hiked with us this year; Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to share this grand adventure with you. Mt. Shasta is a special place and we are grateful to share our local knowledge and passion for the mountain with you. Please, please share your pictures and comments on our Facebook Page and other social media, we love to hear from our guests!

Greg Cunningham summit plateau

Greg Cunningham summit plateau  photo: M. Shamsee

Fall in Mt. Shasta can be dazzling with cooling temps, changing colors on the trees, and the ever present prospect of snow coating the upper elevations. The skis are waxed and ready for the changing season, but there is still lots of time before we’ll be making laps on Green Butte. Until then, we’ll be on the rocks, in the alpine, and at the beach. Happy fall, see you when the snow flies!

If you are looking for a new adventure this fall season, a few of our senior SMG guides are leading trips to international destinations. We work in partnership with International Alpine Guides to offer other select peaks and trips.

Mexico Volcanoes

Mexico Volcanoes

Dave Miller, our fully certified Technical Director will be climbing the Mexico Volcanoes starting October 26. Nine days of high altitude mountaineering with a highpoint of Pico de Orizaba at 18,491′

Fresh off his recent summer in the Alps, Dave is excited to head back to Mexico.


Chile Volcano Ski

Chile Volcano Ski

Rich Meyer, adventure ski seeker, departs soon for his second foray to Chile’s northern Patagonia region in search of volcano skiing, great food, local hot springs, and corn snow in September. Looking for the best spring skiing in the fall, join Rich in the Lakes District for this unique adventure


Mt. Shasta Conditions update

We have been spoiled with fantastic spring weather and conditions this season and sure enough Mother Nature reminded us that we can still expect winter storms, wind, and even snow at any time on Mt. Shasta. Our climbers and guides demonstrated true grit in some challenging conditions in the last couple weeks; persistance and hard work have paid off with some incredible memories, vistas, and hard won summits.

Above the clouds on Misery Hill

Above the clouds on Misery Hill

The climbing and skiing on Mt. Shasta has been nothing less than spectacular. The mountain was given a refresh with close to a foot of new snow last week. Smooth, consolidated climbing surfaces makes for great crampon conditions and epic skiing on many aspects. I had the opportunity to show some friends the unique and beautiful Konwakiton Glacier Ski descent, a hidden Shasta gem on the east side of the mountain. Great to ski with you CF and AT!

Mt. Shasta Konwakiton Glacier Ski Descent

Mt. Shasta Konwakiton Glacier Ski Descent

The women at She Jumps joined us in a climb with Summit For Someone. 7 hard charging ladies made it to the summit with Polly and Jen. Windy with variable snow added to the challenge, but everyone dug deep and made it to the top in great style, congrats team!

She Jumps on Mt. Shasta

She Jumps on Mt. Shasta

SMG High Camp

SMG High Camp

Over the years we have made many improvements in the menu that we serve on the mountain. Sourcing organic climbing meals with meat and vegetarian options has been our goal. It’s been successful based on the comments we’re getting from folks this year:

“Off the charts good!”

“Food was second to none!”

“I don’t eat that good at home”

It has been so much fun this spring and early summer with the ideal climbing and ski conditions. We’ve enjoyed excellent company and motivated climbers and guests. It looks like we are getting into an early summer weather pattern, mild days and cool nights are making this week and weekend look very good for a summit climb. Good luck in your next adventure!

Mt. Shasta Summit!

Mt. Shasta Summit!