Climb Mt. Shasta REI Store Presentations

Attention San Francisco/Bay Area and  Sacramento area climbers. SMG Directors Chris and Jenn Carr will be at numerous REI stores for an informative and inspiring photo presentation and discussion. With combined over 200 summits, Chris and Jenn will answer your questions and help you prepare for a successful summit climb.

In this digital presentation, we will discuss the major routes on this majestic peak, including Avalanche Gulch, Casaval Ridge, Sargeant’s Ridge, Hotlum Glacier, the West Face, and more. We’ll share our expertise on mountaineering gear and technique, best times to climb, U.S. Forest Service regulations, mountain weather, and snow conditions. Learn what it takes to make a safe and successful summit climb from someone who has climbed, skied, and guided on the mountain for 30 years.

Tuesday, March 27 REI Marina

Wednesday, March 28 REI San Carlos

Thursday, March 29 REI Dublin

Tuesday, April 10th REI Roseville

Wednesday, April 11th REI Sacramento

Thursday, April 12th REI Folsom

Tuesday, April 24th REI Saratoga

Wednesday, April 25th REI San Francisco

Thursday April 26th REI Berkeley



Climbing Mt. Shasta – Selecting a route

In Michael Zanger (SMG Founder) and Andy Selter’s guidebook: The Mt. Shasta Book 17 routes to the summit of Mt. Shasta are included; each with unique variations and specific seasons. Of these, we at Shasta Mountain Guides regularly lead climbs up about 6 of them and routinely climb, ski, and explore the rest. Nearly all of the routes can be climbed on a custom trip if it’s not regularly scheduled.


Shasta Summit!


Choosing an appropriate climb to suit your goals, skills, and conditions will help ensure a safe and more enjoyable experience. Here we will discuss the popular routes, the skills and preparation necessary, the ideal months for each climb, as well as a few photos to hopefully get you fired up!

Climbing gear

Mt. Shasta essentials




Climbing Mt. Shasta is a sustained physical, mental, and technical effort. It is a very reasonable objective for those who are in good physical condition, training specifically for the climb, and are motivated for a big challenge.

As a 14,179′ Cascade Volcano (2nd highest, and largest by volume) Mt. Shasta is best climbed with snow cover to minimize hazard and provide most optimal and efficient conditions. Although we will climb with crampons, ice axe, and even rope up on summit day; the technical challenges are moderate on most routes. The biggest challenge is physical; summit day is generally a 14-16 hour effort and with proper training and preparation a very attainable goal.



Avalanche Gulch

Climbing past the Heart in Avalanche Gulch


Avalanche Gulch  Also known as The John Muir Route this is the most direct route up the mountain, and for that reason the most popular. “The Gulch” is best climbed with plenty of snow; generally May-July, although earlier and later are possible. This route is best for all levels of climbers from novice to advanced. Access is via the Bunny Flat trail-head at 6,950′. Fresh water spring at Horse Camp at treeline with good camping here and at 50/50. We offer this climb in itineraries from 2-4 days. Our 3 day Expedition Style Summit Climb is our most popular climb and a great introduction to alpine climbing and mountaineering.

West Face climbing route

The West Face route from Hidden Valley base camp

The West Face Mt. Shasta’s southwest side holds a high mountain cirque and one of Shasta’s most beautiful base camp’s; Hidden Valley at 9,200′. This is a great alternative to the regular Avalanche Gulch route with the same technical challenge and far fewer climbers. This climb provides a more Wilderness experience and our base-camp in Hidden Valley is a fantastic location to make our summit bid. The route’s difficulties are moderate and it serves up an aesthetic and stunning experience for all levels of climbers. Conditions for a summit attempt are best May-July or later in a good snow year. This is also the route we often select for a ski or snowboard descent ; the fall line drops nearly 4,000′ uninterrupted feet from the top of the West Face ~ truly awesome!

Sunrise on the Hotlm-Bolam

Sunrise on the Hotlum-Bolam

Hotlum-Bolam Ridge – Northeast Side Mt. Shasta’s north side is an alpine playground! 8 Glaciers, including California’s largest –  the Whitney Glacier – adorn it’s flanks. The Hotlum-Bolam route is a perfect choice for climbers looking for an intermediate level climb and intro to glacier climbing. Due to it’s northerly aspect, the season is later; June-September. Our base camp is perched atop a glacial moraine at 9,400′ and has fresh snow melt flowing through camp with the climbing route directly overhead. The conditions are slightly more challenging than those on the south and west side; yet still a moderate technical difficulty for those in good physical condition. This is an excellent climb for new climbers as part of our 4 day Glacier I Seminar. We also offer 3 day summit climbs for those wanting a new challenge and scenic and remote climb on Mt. Shasta.

Casaval Ridge

Casaval Ridge in winter

Casaval Ridge This is Mt. Shasta’s winter and early season climb of choice. Stunning, exposed, and steep; this is a route for climbers with previous experience wanting a greater challenge. Casaval Ridge is an undeniably beautiful and challenging alpine climb; a route that divides Shasta’s south side with dramatic rock towers and steep snow pitches. This route requires ample snow is is best climbed in winter and spring.

Glacier Training on the Hotlum

Glacier Training on the Hotlum



Hotlum Glacier The Hotlum is, in our consideration, Mt. Shasta’s most visually interesting glacier. A series of ice falls and seracs follow the glacier’s movement. This is a perfect training ground for climbers with bigger aspirations to Mt. Rainier and Denali. We climb and train on the Hotlum as part of our Glacier II and III Seminars. The Hotlum is accessed via the Brewer Creek trailhead and is best July-September.

The Mt. Shasta climb is a great challenge with the potential for great rewards.  Dramatic scenery, rugged terrain, new experiences, and memories to last a lifetime.  Ready for a new adventure!




BCF West Face/Hidden Valley Photo Essay

The amazing and talented Sequoia Pettengell and Cathy Ann Taylor have been team photographers for the annual Climb Against the Odds.  I would like to share a few of their beautiful selections from this year’s climb.  You can see the whole slideshow at the BCF Flickr site

West Face climbing route

West Face route from basecamp in Hidden Valley


Summer time and Hidden Valley Basecamp is still buried in snow! The climbing route beckons the team in excellent conditions.




Hidden Valley alpenglow

Rich Meyer, Eric Layton, and Pat Bush


SMG guides are some of the best in the industry.   We are fortunate to have such capable individuals who make your trip a most memorable experience.






West Face by headlamp


All of our summit climbs begin by headlamp for the Alpine Start!








Dane Brinkley leads his team on the West Face


Dane’s team nears 11,000′









The summit plateau is a broad bench at 14,000′ before gaining the final summit pinnacle

Climbers cross the summit plateau


The climb challenges are transformed to summit smiles.  Congrats to all the climbers!

all smiles

Katy is all smiles as she reaches the summit!


Prayer Flags of hope and inspiration fly from the summit of Mt. Shasta

Mt. Shasta summit
Mt. Shasta summit!

post climb gnosh session!


Many people came together to make this climb a success. Local volunteer porters and businesses rallied to add essential climb details.  The Fifth Season has been catering an amazing post climb breakfast at Horse Camp.  This is quickly becoming a highlight of the trip. Thank you all!



We at SMG once again thank all who participated in this year’s climb.  It was a memorable event that we are honored to be a part of.   Climbing and weather conditions couldn’t have been better and we are inspired by your stories and strength!

Climb Report 6.24

Phenomenal!  Best describes the current mountain conditions.  Just down from an amazing climb with this year’s BCF Climb Against the Odds.  34 climbers made the journey and 22 reached the summit on a postcard perfect day.  The crew at SMG sends out a huge Thank You and congratulations to this year’s team for your dedication and hard work, it was an honor to climb with you all.

Mt. Shasta summit plateau

The final stretch to the summit

We found a variety of conditions from difficult post-holing on the lower mountain, to smooth and firm cramponing, to a mini lenticular forming that had us concerned until it dissipated and left a perfect summer weather window.

We had teams reach the summit on both Avalanche Gulch and the West Face this week and the climbing couldn’t be better.  Here’s Senior Guide Dane Brinkley leading his rope team as they top out on the West Face at 13,000′

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For many climbers, Misery Hill is the final challenge before the 14,179′ summit.  Here’s a great clip of the effort during pretty optimal conditions.   I don’t understand how it gets it’s name!

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The climbing season is in full swing, see you on the mountain!