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

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!

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!