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 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 Guide Report: 12 Straight Days in Avalanche Gulch

Here is another in our series of special guide posts and trip reports. This comes from Greg Cunningham, a senior guide and dedicated skier. Greg spends the winter as a ski patroller at Kirkwood Mountain Resort and heads to Mt. Shasta as soon as the resort closes for the spring and summer volcano season.

Greg Cunningham Mt. Shasta summit plateau

Greg Cunningham Mt. Shasta summit plateau

We often say that what makes SMG special is our amazingly talented and skilled guide staff. We are honored to have such a capable crew who are passionate about the outdoors and sharing that experience with our guests. Thanks Greg and our entire guide family!




12 Straight Days in Avalanche Gulch

The 2015 guiding season with Shasta Mountain Guides got started in a hurry. After another meager winter in Tahoe, I was eager to get back up to Mt. Shasta and coax what I could out of the remaining ski season. My first ski trip was scheduled for April 25-27, and conditions were looking good; high pressure, warm days, and cool nights promised classic Shasta corn. Driving north from Kirkwood, I didn’t yet realize that my first three day would turn into a 12 day marathon of four consecutive ski trips, stellar clients, great friends, and 40,000 vertical feet of some of the best spring skiing anywhere.

Orly skiing up the lunar landscape of the Lower Gulch

Orly skiing up the lunar landscape of the Lower Gulch

Trip number one brought clear skies, perfect conditions, and two great guests. Luke and Orly showed up psyched and ready to go. We wasted no time getting after it, and spent the first two days skiing dreamy Shasta corn, acclimatizing, and dialing in our climbing skills for summit day. On summit day, conditions were absolutely ideal, and after recruiting Jacob from guide training to help out, we got Luke to the summit, skied two great ski lines and got a rare guided ski descent of the Trinity Chutes in great condition.

Kyle carefully climbing into the center Trinity Chute

Kyle carefully climbing into the center Trinity Chute

The second trip of the streak was a personal trip with friends from Kirkwood, and as I returned to Horsecamp the next day, I felt like I had never left. We were even able to use the same tent platforms that we had sculpted in the snow on the previous trip. This trip was a bit more casual than the first, but there was no shortage of motivated skiers, classic lines and great snow. I left my friends on Thursday evening and skied out to Bunny Flat, knowing that I would run into them tomorrow as I headed back in with my next group.

Skiing out of the Trinities

Skiing out of the Trinities

The third trip of the corn shredding extravaganza brought Phil and Andrew for Andrew’s birthday celebration, and probably the best conditions of the spring thus far. We quickly became friends, and since I had spent the previous six days skiing in Avalanche Gulch, we wasted no time finding the good skiing. The truth is, at this point in the weather cycle, the good skiing was everywhere, and it was hard to go wrong.  We skied great lines off of Casaval Ridge and in the Lower Gulch, and then lounged in the afternoon sun, as we rested up for our summit day.  On summit day, we started at 4am under a full moon that completely illuminated the Mountain, so much so that we didn’t need to use our headlamps. Climbing conditions were excellent, and we summited and skied 6,000′ continuous vert of Mt Shasta magic.

Dan and I on the summit on the fourth and final trip

Dan and I on the summit on the fourth and final trip

My fourth and final consecutive trip brought Dan out from Manhattan in search of a summit and a ski descent all the way back down.  We spent the first two days skiing, exploring all that Avalanche Gulch has to offer, and practicing our climbing skills for what was forecasted to be a somewhat rugged summit day. Our summit day was cold and a stiff north wind was blowing. Besides one other party, we were apparently the only ones on the upper mountain.  The snow was in excellent condition for cramponing, and we made good progress and summited right at noontime. The cold temps and north winds weren’t very conducive to soft skiing. Luckily, Dan grew up skiing in New England and is no stranger to skiing hard snow. We negotiated the upper mountain smoothly and efficiently, and to our relief, found softening snow for the last couple thousand feet of our run.  Although conditions were challenging at times, Dan was psyched and the trip was a total success.

And so concluded an epic start to the 2015 season.  4 ski trips back to back, summits on every trip, day after day of endless corn skiing, and 12 days and 40,000 vertical feet of human powered skiing. Mount Shasta has an entire range worth of skiing on one mountain, and although we skied only in Avalanche Gulch for the entire time, we were always skiing different lines and never getting bored.  Avalanche Gulch is still holding good snow, but my attention is now turning towards the other sides of the mountain in hopes of riding out the ski season as long as possible. Reports from the West Face are of good coverage and great, smooth snow, and it’s about time to start heading out to explore the North and East sides of the mountain.  I have a feeling I’ll be skiing for another month or more, and I can’t wait to share some more turns with new guests and old friends alike.

Mt. Shasta Summer Update

July brings classic summer weather to Mt. Shasta; days are warm and winds mild with relief from the heat found on the upper mountain and glaciers. We wrapped up the south side season and are no longer leading trips on Avalanche Gulch or the West Face. After the drought winter of 2014, we were pleasantly surprised to have really good climbing on the mountain.


Mt. Shasta summit!

Although we are done on the regular routes, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy a Mt. Shasta climb or seminar. For the summit enthusiast, the east side Clear Creek route offers a non-technical ascent with minimal objective hazard. Don’t underestimate the effort, non-technical doesn’t mean easy! This is the longest route to the summit and involves rock and scree travel.

For a greater technical challenge and excellent preparation for bigger peaks, the north side of Mt. Shasta is a perfect choice. With California’s largest glaciers, this is a great way to beat the heat while climbing a challenging and spectacular route.

SMG guide Joe Crawford leads the Hotlum-Bolam

SMG guide Joe Crawford leads the Hotlum-Bolam

The north side routes are more technical (steeper and icier) and will require great effort to reach the summit. This is recommended for climbers with previous experience or as part of our Glacier I Seminar. There are patches of ice showing on the glaciers and climbing will require good planning and travel technicques.

With the low snow pack and warm summer temps, the climbing season will be a little shortened on Mt. Shasta this year. We expect good conditions through August on the north side and Clear Creek can be climbed as long as the weather holds up, likely through Labor Day and beyond.

BCF climbers cross the summit plateau

BCF climbers cross the summit plateau

It has been as amazingly successful season so far, we can not thank our climbers enough for allowing us the opportunity to share this experience with you. We’re looking forward to the remaining climbs on Mt. Shasta, and especially excited of the early reports of a big winter on the way! It’s never to early to be dreaming of winter storms!

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!