This summer has been great for high alpine splitboarding. For weeks following my South Side descent I have been glued to ShastaAvalancheCenter and NOAA, praying for good weather (wind free), and been disappointed. Finally, the past week we saw bluebird skies and moderate winds. Things were looking good to go for Brewer Creek and the stoke was high for my friends Vito and Clay. On Friday July 6th we hopped in the car around 8pm and set off to the trail head.
And when we woke up the next morning....Things were looking good.
So, we set off along the trail, anxious for snow to skin on.
After about an hour or so of dry hiking, finally, it was time to skin.
And skin we did. Up through some decent sized suncup's and some rotten runnels. But it didn't take too long to get up to 10500'. When we got there we found a killer camp site.
After grubbing down a few snacks and pounding some water and Nathan Catalyst, our bored carcasses were in need for some lines. Above us was a the Hotlum Glacier and from camp, we could really see the blue Seracs glistening at us. We thought lets go take a closer look, and we did.
After slogging through some fairly rotten snow, we arrived at our destination. Just as I was thinking about crossing the shrund my pole and Vito's pole shot straight though the snow into no mans land. We figured that we had skinned far enough by this point. It was time to ride.
Clay dropping down to camp
Followed by Vito
Me, on my way back to camp
After our late afternoon sesh, We melted some 10 liters of water, ate dinner and hopped into our tents as the winds started to pick up and annoy the hell out of us. I ate some Mint Chocolate Milano's, and organized my pack for the next morning. All the while staring out of the tent and praying for the winds to die down. I crashed out pretty early, knowing that my alpine start would come way too soon.
I slept pretty well considering the strong gusts that were blowing all night. As soon as my alarm went off, I grabbed my breakfast, (consisting of a banana, two more cookies, some strawberries and two Berry Smoothie PowerBars) dropped my Mr. Chomps under my bindings and set off up to about 11800' where I waited for my buds, and transitioned to boot pack mode.
The sunrise was awesome, as usual on an alpine start on Shasta's East Face.
Once my bro's caught up, it was time to pack it. The snow was pretty solid as far as positive foot placements were concerned. Which made for a relatively quick ascent to the Wintun Ridge where we crossed over onto the Glacier proper.
Vito and I boot'n it on up.
On this approach, it doesn't matter how quickly you climb, because the "tread mill" effect is so strong here. The longer you climb for the further the distance away the peak seems.
So we took a few breaks....
and kept on truckin up the couloir.
Not too long after beginning our climb of the near 40* couloir, we were at the summit, and stoked out of our minds. We were the only splitboarders on the summit, and we knew that we had the Wintun Glacier all to ourselves. The stoke was high.
Obligatory hero pose.
After signing into the register, and talking with some new friends we transformed out A-frame mode and into shred mode. I was stoked to be up again, but I was frothing to get down.
So much that, as soon as Vito ratcheted his bindings down, I was out and dropping the blind roller into the couloir. It was amazing snow. Super soft, ultra high speed corn. Like pin your ears back at full speed corn. Once through the couloir and onto the glacier proper it was time to point it.
Vito got some sweet picks of Clay traversing onto the Wintun.
But that was it as far as shots of the glacier are concerned. It was just to fun and too fast to stop. After 5 hours of climbing, we dropped 4000+' in less than five minutes.
We had to unstrap to sneak over onto the HW snowfield where our tent was, but that gave us some more turns.
Quickly, we packed up and dropped further down for another 1500+'
But all great things unfortunatly come to and end. And it was time to hike back out to the car. We had come to the end of our shred for the trip, and we were stoked, each of us grinning ear to ear, pounding fists and yelling BROTHER! like Hulk Hogan.
On the way out we stopped to appreciate the massif that is Shasta, and stare at our lines.
Back on the trail, with boards transformed, we had slayed Megatron, and it was time to dream about what killer experience we would have next.
Joined: Fri Feb 05, 2010 11:33 am Posts: 184 Location: Auburn, CA
Nice work guys! You continue to kill it. I have to say I'm super jealous of how you were able to approach that line. I could only get Monday the 9th off and attempted the HW route car to car. SF to summit to SF in roughly 30 hours was the somewhat overly ambitious goal.
I drove up from SF Sunday night after work and picked up Seb at the movie theatre in Redding where he was waiting for me after a weekend of camping at Shasta Lake (he highly recommends Magic Mike btw). We reached the trailhead around 11 and after getting our ready for the next day settled in for roughly 4 hours of sleep.
Too much work has prevented me from getting any real exercise sine Y-Couloir last month so even though I was really excited about getting up in the high country again I was a little apprehensive about what my body was gonna think about going from sea level to 14k in less than 24 hours. Seb was feeling similarly out of shape but we set out at around 5am hoping slow and steady would do the trick. About 50' in Seb mentions something about a cramp in his right leg, then says, "huh it's not going away. Ah, fuck it I'm sure it'll be fine." Neither of gives it much thought for the next several thousand vert.
The sun rises awful early this time of year which made for a nice show of colors off to the east as we climbed past treeline and hit the snow. The treadmill that you mentioned ended being our undoing as the elevation and the vertical gain started double teaming us and our pace fell off considerably somewhere in the middle of that endless featureless expanse as the skinning became more challenging. As the morning wore on Seb started to slow up and we realized we weren't gonna make the summit at our current pace. Since I was still feeling frisky we decided to split up so I could make a solo summit push.
It was about 10:45 when we made that call and I pushed it pretty hard for the next 2 hours 15 minutes. I gained another 2.5k but still couldn't quite get it done. I ended up stopping 300' feet shy of the summit (in the summit "couloir" by the second big rock formation that is on your left as you are climbing). It was 1:00pm at this point but the decision to turn around was driven less by snow conditions (there was a light wind that was keeping the corn from melting too much) but more by timing and fatigue as I had to drive all the back to the SF that night and work 12 hours the next day. I was pretty knackered at this point so getting those last few hundred feet done was probably gonna take me another 30 minutes at least. Let's just say that I don't quite have 7k legs at this point. No shame there I guess.
Seb ended up around 1,800' below about where you start the traverse out above the Wintun. Not bad at all considering the leg he was hiking on (more on this later).
Anyway, despite what the climbing advisory says the corn out there is absolutely phenomenal above the Wintun glacier (skier's right of the ridge). Even without summitting I got to rip around 3.5k feet of 35-40* steep fall line velvety goodness. From there it was a nasty long slog out to the car with a few bonus turns followed by a seemingly interminable bootpack along the endless dusty switchbacks of the summer trail.
Once we hit the summer trail I started booking it back to the trailhead to use the porta potty's there so I wouldn't have to pack out any more of my own poo (I get it, but man is that annoying). After around 15 minutes passed and still no Seb I started to get worried. I was just considering heading up the trail to look when I hear some intermittent yelping. It turns out his leg deteriorating and was getting more and more painful with each step. We're not sure the exact diagnosis but it looked like some kind of achilles strain when we finally got the boot off and looked at it. Pretty gnarly day to do with a leg in that kind of shape. Tough dude.
All in all it was epic if not a complete success. I'll be back for one more go this summer and I fully intend on riding from the summit. I might have to get more than one day off work to get it done though.
Thanks guys. Yeah it is a killer mountain. I have done the peak from the car before and that is awesome, but it is truly awe inspiring camping on the mountain. It's not such a rush and the mountain truly deserves our full attention, because there is so much going on, that in a summit in a day push can be missed, because we're so determined on the goal. Silver I'm game to get it out again there with you this season. I have climbed the peak 4 times this year and it just never gets old. It is such an energy portal, and unless you've been there it's impossible to comprehend.
John Muir once said of the mountain, "...far better than climbing Mt Shasta is going around its warm fertile base, enjoying its bounties like a bee circling a bank of flowers...As you sweep around so grand a center the mountain itself seems to turn...One glacier after another comes into view, and the outlines of the mountain are ever changing."
I think he would agree that the summit itself is quite a lofty goal to tick off, but it's the experience of being on the mountain and appreciating everything your senses can handle. It seems that is the true reason to be with Shasta. There is so much on that big massif, much more than just the peak. Way more terrain to shred and dream of shredding than one can do in a life time, or a million lifetimes.