Mt Shasta via the Hotlum-Bolam Ridge

5 Jun 1999 - by Michael Gordon

Dave edges Judy's Ford Explorer off the highway and into the rest stop; home for the night. Never more quickly have I left the seat of a vehicle and settled into slumber. We grab our sleeping bags and walk no further than fifty feet from the vehicle where we find refuge in a shallow ditch next to a pistachio grove. I thought I had groveled before groveling takes on a whole new meaning when you grovel with the pros.

How I actually slept in the dirt at this roadside stop somewhere north of Bakersfield I'll never know, considering especially the proportions and proximity of the doggie doo illuminated by morning's light just centimeters from my sleeping bag, not to mention the rumble and roar of eighteen-wheelers throughout the night.

On June 5, 1999, Dave German, Michael Gordon, Jon Miller, and Judy Rittenhouse (Southern California Mountaineers Association members) (SCMA) summited Mt. Shasta via the Hotlum-Bolam Ridge. There was plenty of ice, wind, and cold. By summit register appearances, it seems we may have been the first to summit from the north side this year. The North Gate road had just opened up a week or two previous, and a group of PCS'ers had failed to summit just before us as reported by their scribe to this list. Excluding the hordes and masses seen on or near the summit (coming up from the Av. Gulch route), we saw only four people on this trip.

While the climb itself was rather uneventful, it wasn't altogether without its moments of excitement or humor:

Our descent back to the car from high camp is uneventful; Judy and Dave enjoy a ski descent on snow of varying iciness, while I enjoy linking up several-hundred foot long standing glissades on snow of perfect angle and firmness.

Our ten-hour drive home sees us stopping at the Central Valley's universally distinguished and highly sought John Chuck Ecerra roadside bouldering rest stop. Dave German puts up the first ascent (in sneakers, no less) of the Kiosk Traverse (V3) while NOAA weather reports broadcast from the cheesy speaker in one of the faces on the traverse. A fantastic line! Each of us take turns on the highly coveted, not often repeated Spigot Mantle (V2), which is as pumpy as its name implies. We could stay here all day (the excitement of this mecca and the number of problems approaching that of the Mt. Shasta Ranger Station) but home beckons. With the big orange orb setting in the rearview mirror, we roll south on a lonely Highway 5, all the while dreaming up future trips to the numerous bouldering destinations that dot roadsides throughout this great state. We all sleep happy this night.


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