Mt Shasta, a summer day hike

2 Aug 2000 - by George Sinclair

After going up to the mountains the last three weekends in a row I felt that I was sufficiently acclimatized to attempt a one day ascent of Mt. Shasta. Although I had been on numerous trips to Mt. Shasta over the years, I had never actually been all the way to the summit. I was weathered-off the mountain on every attempt I made. The fact that most all of these attempts were made in the winter may have something to do with getting such poor weather. I remember one PCS trip to Shasta that I was on, where the group was pinned-down by high winds for two or three days at the pass between Shastina and Shasta. On another trip two out of three tents were destroyed by high winds. Attempting to climb the mountain in such weather is almost impossible as the strong winds knock you over. However, on this recent attempt the weather gods were kind.

I started my climb from Bunny Flat at 4:30 am. From my starting point it is 7,000 feet to the summit of Shasta. By the time I got to Horse Camp it was light enough to see without a flashlight. I encountered nobody until I reached Helen Lake. Between Helen Lake and the Red Banks above, there must've been about 50 people working their way up the mountain. The sun was still behind the east side of the mountain as I worked my way up and around The Heart. With the absence of direct sunlight, the snow remained hard. Crampons would've come in handy here. Unfortunately I neglected to bring mine. Nevertheless I pressed on through the steepest section of the climb, passed through the Red Banks, and soon reached the level area just below Misery Hill. After leaving my gear at this level area, I grabbed my camera and headed for the summit, which was only a short ways further. I finally reached the summit at about 12:30 pm.

The descent was quick and exciting as I glissaded down several thousand feet of Mt. Shasta in about 30 minutes. About one thousand feet below Helen Lake the snow runs out and the glissading comes to an end. As I hiked the remaining few miles back to the car, I was amazed by the number of climbers heading up the mountain heavily loaded with tons of gear, including heavy plastic boots, pickets, helmets, etc. I wonder how much gear John Muir had with him when he climbed the mountain back in the 1800's. I returned to my car at Bunny Flat at about 4:00 pm.


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