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

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

 

Mt. Shasta and the art of skiing corn

Winter in Northern California can be hard to define. It could serve up a severe winter storm with cold, blustery deep snow; or you may be slipping into flip flops under bright sunshine after enjoying a pleasant ski tour. Both can be equally enjoyable and one of the highlights of living and playing in and around Mt. Shasta.

We are currently in our mid winter break and seeing dry conditions and above average temps. Although we’re enjoying the spring like weather, it’s hard not to question when we will see a return to winter and regular storm systems. In 2011, the last big el nino year, we had 18 consecutive days of mild, dry conditions. This current pattern is not unusual and there is serious talk of a very wet and wild March. So best to enjoy the sun, tune up your gear, and get ready for the next wave bound for California.

It’s been a pretty festive winter and lots of stoked skiers and boarders again in California. Mt. Shasta has been putting on a quite a show this year and local photographer and dedicated dawn patrol skier Mike Hupp has been mesmorizing us with his stunning photography.

Mike Hupp Dawn Patrol Imags

Mike Hupp Dawn Patrol Imags

We live for the winter storm advisories but if the sun decides to come out and the thermometer climbs up, we’ll take advantage of the break and explore the backcountry looking for corn snow rather than powder. We love powder and here is a great video of what ski mountaineering on Mt. Shasta looks like. Huge props to local student and future SMG guide Owen Stroud.

YouTube Preview Image

It can be said that corn skiing ranks a close second to pure powder as skier’s favorite. It’s hard to argue about powder’s superiority but like many things lusted after; its opportunities are more limited and temporary on a 14,000’ Cascade volcano. What Mt. Shasta may lack in consistent powder days, we certainly make up for with what’s been described as “the best corn on the planet…”

Sean Malee surfs the magic carpet of perfect Mt. Shasta corn snow

Sean Malee surfs the magic carpet of perfect Mt. Shasta corn snow

If you’re unfamiliar; corn snow is the product of a high water content, melt-freeze cycled, snowpack. As the pack metamorphosizes, it consolidates into a singular, cohesive unit that freezes hard at night and the top 2-3 inches melts during the day to create a magic carpet surface that is pure fun to ski and board. Corn snow is often combined with a lower (not eliminated) avalanche hazard and milder temps. Couple this with cold drinks stashed in the snowberm at the trailhead and a pair of the above mentioned flip flops and that adds up to a pretty fine day in the backcountry.

Backcountry skiing Mt. Shasta, CA

Backcountry skiing Mt. Shasta, CA

With an El Nino like we are experiencing, there is no question there will be many prime corn skiing days this season on Mt. Shasta. We are currently well above normal for both snowpack and water content, so we’re confidant the climbing and skiing will be in the optimal range this year.

There is still plenty of winter remaining and if forecasts are true we could get back to wet weather possibly by next week. There will be a fun event March 5th as a film showing of Dream Line to support the Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center. Swedish Filmaker Bjarne Salen has recently relocated to Mt. Shasta and judging by his Instagram he is getting after it and enjoying his new backyard playground. Welcome Bjarne, we look forward to seeing the film!

Have a great holiday weekend and stay safe in the backcountry!

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 upcoming events and news

Mt. Shasta has been on the receiving end of non stop storm cycles and the latest report from the NWS is continued winter weather for the next 4 weeks! The local excitement and powder frenzy has been off the charts and we are all thrilled to be making up for the last several years of drought. Currently there is over 100″ of snow at the Ski Bowl weather station and 72″ at the Mt. Shasta Ski Park.

Our current water total for 2016 is 171% of normal and snowpack about 134% The effects of the El Nino weather pattern are just starting to appear. Although the last storm was warmer with higher snow levels, this ultimately is great for our snowpack and water content. The warmer snow will consolidate potential weak layers and will help our spring and summer climbing season with epic conditions. The next storm arrives today (1/19) and will deliver abother 6-12″ of new snow and lower snow levels. If you’ve been waiting to visit Mt. Shasta, this will be the year with such a robust snow pack.

Mt. Shasta Snowball

Mt. Shasta Snowball

All of this favorable winter weather is perfect for the upcoming week as the Friends of the Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center host the annual Snow Ball  and Mt. Shasta Ascension Race. This is one of the best parties of the year and with all of the good vibes it will certainly be a high energy event. We invite you up for some great skiing and good times with friends.

A new addition to this year’s event is a demo day and free intro to backcountry ski tour hosted by The Fifth Season and Shasta Mountain Guides. This year, The Fifth Season, our local gear store, invested in an all new fleet of the highest quality touring equipment for rent and demo. DPS, Volkl, Blizzard, Haagen, G3, K2, will all be available to try before you buy. We will be leading a free ski tour open to the first 12 to sign up. Call or email for details.

With all the weather this year, now is the time to take the avalanche seminar you’ve been wanting to complete. A prerequisite for backcountry skiers, snowboarders, ice climbers, and winter enthusiasts to travel informed in the backcountry. We are holding an AIARE Level I Seminar January 29-31. Led by David Reichel and Dane Brinkley, this will undoubtedly be ideal conditions to learn about safe winter travel in avalanche terrain.

It looks like there will be little break in the storms in the near future. Keep an eye on the weather and check the daily avalanche forecast. Stay safe out there and enjoy the backcountry, these are the good ‘ol days we’ll be talking about!

SMG Trip Report Denali Prep April 2015

A favorite early season trip is our Denali Prep Course. Mt. Shasta is a long way from Denali (Mt. McKinley) but we’ve been offering this trip for several reasons: 1. Mt. Shasta is a perfect training ground for bigger objectives and winter storms can be as fierce and cold as anywhere. Whether your first climb or 50th, Mt. Shasta will whip you into shape while delivering some valuable mountain lessons. 2. Many of our guides also lead trips to climb North America’s tallest peak and what a great opportunity to learn expedition skills from those actually doing it.

This year’s trip was ideal Alaska training conditions and we had SMG Senior Guide Patrick Chu leading the climb. Patrick heads north from Mt. Shasta to guide a couple climbs on Mt. Rainier before heading to Talkeetna and guiding a climb up Mt. McKinley. Assisting Patrick was Jacob Swartz; Alaska native, SMG Lead Guide, and Squaw Valley big mountain instructor. Along with a winter storm forecast, all the pieces were in place for a great learning experience.

This season will be turning the keyboard over to some of our guides who will offer a first hand report of some special trips and expeditions on Mt. Shasta. After 5 days of snow, wind, and single digit temps here’s Patrick’s narrative of the trip.

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As I rummaged through my equipment bins I found myself pulling out sunglasses, light down layers, and spring gloves. Although it was 60 degrees, I was packing for a Denali Prep climb on Mt Shasta. It had been a little while since I had guided on Shasta and in my mind I envisioned 5 days of blue skies, corn snow, and maybe even a pair of flip flops. I was wrong! By the time I arrived in town it had become apparent that the coldest storm of the entire winter was creeping towards the mountain packing feet of new snow, high winds, and bitter cold temps. Suddenly my backpack was stuffed to the brim with goggles, mittens, puffy pants, and whatever else might provide some protection and warmth to battle the storm.
The calm before the storm

The calm before the storm

Day 1: A group of deidicated climbers departed from Bunny Flat under stellar spring conditions on Friday 4/3, taking turns towing a sled full of group gear to simulate the mandatory sled hauling that occurs on Denali. We built a simple camp at Horse Camp and spent the rest of the afternoon learning about our technical equipment, knots, and how to prussik up and down a fixed rope.
Day 2: We started the day off with an in-depth snow school which included numerous movement skills, self arrest, and safe glissading. We then learned rope travel techniques and took an acclimatization hike to the top of Giddy Giddy Gulch to both practice our rope management skills and to simulate carrying loads to a higher camp on Denali. At the top of Giddy Giddy we practiced rappelling and fixed line use. The fingers of cold air at the front of the storm began to chill us in the early afternoon and a light snow started to fall. The team decided it was time to descend to camp and we spent the rest of the afternoon learning about snow protection and pitched climbing.
Paul practices safe glissading technique under Jacob's watchful eye.

Paul practices safe glissading technique under Jacob’s watchful eye.

Day 3 : Time to move higher! The team packed up at Horse Camp in semi whiteout and snowy conditions to move to Camp 2 at 9,000 feet. The weather forecast was calling for 33″ of fresh snow, 65mph winds, and single digit temps at 11,000; perfect Denali training. We roped up into two glacier teams and began moving towards our next camp placing wands to mark our route of travel in case we had to descend in whiteout conditions. Our sole purpose for the day was to learn how to build a bomb-proof camp that would weather the incoming storm. After arriving at high camp we slaved for hours, cutting blocks of snice (snowy ice) and building walls to solidify our camp. After camp was built we spent the rest of the day eating, drinking, and fine tuning our new battle ready castle.
The team, roped up for glacier travel, moves higher up Mt Shasta.

The team, roped up for glacier travel, moves higher up Mt Shasta.

Working hard to build solid snow walls to protect our camp from the wind.

Working hard to build solid snow walls to protect our camp from the wind.

Day 4: The storm moved in with a vengeance in the early hours of the morning. Temperatures plummeted into the single digits and the wind began howling through our camp. We still had plenty of material to cover and spent the day cycling out of the tents to learn and practice anchor building, running belays, and crevasse rescue. Jacob saw all the fresh snow as an opportunity to lead a seminar on avalanche awareness and to demonstrate a step by step avalanche beacon recovery. This day was the perfect opportunity to truly taste of what Denali weather can be like. We regrouped in the cook tent often throughout the day to warm up, sip hot drinks, and recap on course material. Everyone was ready to sleep in the early evening and we hunkered down for what was sure to be a cold and stormy night. I had to reluctantly crawl out of my sleeping bag twice in the middle of the night to shovel out my tent which was quickly becoming buried by all of the wind transported snow.

Jacob and Steve take a round practicing crevasse rescue during the worst of the storm.

Jacob and Steve take a round practicing crevasse rescue during the worst of the storm.

Day 5: With a slight reprieve in the wind by morning, we made haste and packed up camp after breakfast and a mountain navigation lesson. The team roped up and navigated their way down the mountain following the wands we had placed on our way up. With all the new snow the trip out was quite an adventure. It ended up taking us almost three hours of wallowing through deep, fresh powder to reach Bunny Flat (about as much time as it took us to get up!).
While it may not have been the sunny, warm, and forgiving conditions that spring and summer on Mt Shasta can offer, last weekend’s Denali Prep gave us the best possible conditions to train and prepare for what The Great One can throw at climbers attempting to reach its lofty, corniced summit. Only through teamwork, mental fortitude, and plain old hard work will one have a fighting chance of standing on the summit of North America. I feel quite fortunate for such opportunities to experience mother nature’s raw (and frigid) power and I’d like to personally thank the team for an awesome and humbling experience on Mt Shasta.
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Within a few hours of the team battling their way off the mountain, the storm cleared and left several feet of new snow. Patrick and Jacob dried out, warmed up, and along with several other SMG guides headed back out to truly enjoy the powder on skis!
Remnanats of camp after the storm while Dane breaks trail above

Remnanats of camp after the storm while Dane breaks trail above

Look for future trip reports and guest blogs from our staff. We’re super excited about the upcoming season and look forward to the opportunity to share it with you.

SMG/The Fifth Season Mt. Shasta Backcountry Ski Report 12.22.14

This season we’ll be posting regular ski and snow conditions reports from the Mt. Shasta backcountry. Partnering with local skiers, The Fifth Season, and the Mt. Shasta Ski Park, we’re here to share our knowledge with a healthy heaping of stoke and the hope that winter continues to deliver to California.

Mt. Shasta December 2014 backcountry skiing

Mt. Shasta December 2014 backcountry skiing

After a week of some of the best early season powder skiing we’ve had in years we’re still glowing over our good fortune. The Mt. Shasta snow pack is in great shape with this being one of the 10 wettest Decembers on record. We currently have about 8′ of snow at treeline, a little more above, and a little less below. The road to Bunny Flat is plowed and sanded with about 4-5′ of snow at the trailhead.

Mt. Shasta December 2014 backcountry snowboarding

Mt. Shasta December 2014 backcountry snowboarding

Early Monday morning (12/22) the clouds finally lifted along with the temps to reveal a snow encrusted Mt. Shasta. The last storm cycle finished with rising temps and snow levels but still skied better than expected. We did observe rain runnels to about 8,200′ and natural avalanche starting from Sargents Ridge and depositing snow into the Old Ski Bowl. This likely occurred Sunday as the snow levels rose to almost 8,500′ and significant weight was added to the pack.

Avalanche in the Old Ski Bowl December 22, 2014

Avalanche in the Old Ski Bowl December 22, 2014

The current transitional state of the snow pack will greatly improve with the cooling temps and another round of precipitation coming with Santa on Christmas Eve. It may be our collective prayers, but it’s looking like the possibilty for a White Christmas will hopefully make all of our winter dreams come true. It’s still too early to be too optimistic, but we are excited to have a base and hopefully to be within the sites of the jetstream this year. So far, it’s been cooperating!

For climbers, we’re still leery of the upper elevations and being exposed to Mt. Shasta’s extensive avalanche paths. Winds are constantly shifting on the mountain and start zones are being loaded/deposited regularly. Use extreme caution above treeline and be aware of rapidly changing conditions.

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and safe backcountry adventures this year!

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Upcoming:

Saturday January 24th. Mt. Shasta Ascension Randonee Race. A fun/competitive uphill ski race at the Mt. Shasta Ski Park. That evening trade your race suit for party gear and head out to the SnowBall! The annual party/fundraiser for the Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center.  A great weekend in Mt. Shasta

Spring conditions this week on Mt. Shasta

What a season…With fluctuations in the snow levels, we have been seeing rain up to 8,500′ dropping to 6,000′. By Monday morning temps had dropped and we had over a foot of new, cold snow above treeline. Add some steady winds from the north and we had avalanche concern for steeper south aspects on the upper mountain. The concern was confirmed when we skied up to a group who had triggered an avalanche that partially buried 4 of the 5 snow sliders in upper Anaconda Gulch on 3.10. Close call, heads up out there, we have had several storm systems with little time for the snow pack to adjust to the recent loads.

Climbing Casaval Ridge

Climbing Casaval Ridge

With careful route planning excellent snow conditions can be found.

Mt. Shasta backcountry conditions perfect!

Mt. Shasta backcountry conditions perfect!

Regular storms and light winds has delivered excellent ski conditions on the mountain. We are looking at several days of high pressure and warming temps, we may see 70 in town by this weekend. With that in mind we will likely see many Shastafarians enjoying the near perfect conditions, a welcome sight after a dry winter.

Snowboarding past avalanche debris in Avalanche Gulch

Snowboarding past avalanche debris in Avalanche Gulch

We’re stoked about the recent snow, we are still below average however. This may be a good year to be on Shasta earlier than later in the season. Unless of course, March and April return with wet weather and added snow. It’s never too late for winter conditions on the mountain.

We have our last AIARE Avalanche Course starting Friday. Upcoming guide training and summit season coming soon. Keep up the snow dance!