The Eastside/Shasta splitfest never really materialized, but I was still keen on getting my legs under me again. Schedules kept not lining up and the date that I could get a couple of folks to agree on kept getting pushed further and further back.
Finally I got a date set and was joined by Mark (mgamma) and Chris (aleebee156). I've ridden a bunch this winter in-bounds with Mark, but this would be his very first split trip Talk about your trial by fire - Ring of Fire! I was needless to say a bit worried about him being a total noob, but at least knowing he could handle a board meant I was comfortable having him along for most of the way and I could turn him around part way if he wasn't ready. I hadn't ridden with Chris yet, but I knew through an email list he'd been out a bunch this year.
Friday morning, July 13th, Mark and I waited the rush hour out and pointed the wheels northward. Chris was joining us from the Sierra foothills, with the plan to meet in Shasta in the mid-afternoon so Mark and Chris could rent some crampons.
Three hours later, around a bend and ahhhhhhhh.... I'll never get tired of that first good glimpse of Shasta.
Headed into town, picked up the gear and Chris and headed out to Brewer Creek. Love the drive in on Pilgrim Pass Rd, with the trees standing at ATTENT-SHUN!! headed onto Military Pass Rd.
It wasn't long till we got a good look at our line from Military Pass Rd.
Made it to the trailhead, paid our permit fees, packed up and ready to go. The crew...
Headed up from the trailhead around 5:30pm. Here's Mark making his way.
Making our way up to snowline, which was about 8500ft last weekend.
Made it to camp. In retrospect, there was a much better camp about a grand higher than us, but we were losing light as the sun headed over the ridge and this was as good a place as any - with skinable snow a few steps away.
Pitched camp, ate up and settled in for a short night's sleep. Sleep was comfortable - a little TOO comfortable as I was very warm in my 30deg bag even though the forecast called for high 30's at this elevation. At the 4am wakeup ring, I knew why...It never dropped below the mid 40's. Uh-oh, its gonna get HOT!!
We ate and got ready quickly, took the mandatory fecal target practice and we were on our way - or so we thought around 5am. Slight delay, as Mark had not adjusted his bindings to his boots, even though I had helped him set up his board a few days earlier
Oh well 10 minutes later and we were under way. The snow was already softening, a signal for things to come. I channeled some of that angst and took the lead in setting the pace. Pretty soon we had the boards off and crossing the first of many scree patches. The snow was soft enough that we didn't "need" crampons, but was quickly steep enough to help with some added traction. Chris and I saw that Mark was struggling to keep up on his first skin, so we waited up for him and I handed over my crampons to him. A few coaching tips from each of us, combined with the Mr. Chomps and he was learning quick and keeping pace with Chris and I .
Pretty soon we were treated to a beautiful red sunrise. I wish I had a pic of the upper mountain when the sun crested the horizon, but my 10yo Elfph decided to crap out right then and there. Mark got a few more pics, but hopefully Chris will chime in with the rest of the pictures.
We took a break around 11,000 feet...love the view. Pretty soon it was broiling
It was shortly after here that I was slipping, and Chris was starting to, so we swapped to boot crampons. I certainly was using a lot more energy than Chris with Chomps, but we were relatively on time and on pace. I'm sure with a little harder snow and the Mr. Chomps we could have skinned much farther, but it was an early switch to crampons as the sun steadily climbed into the sky.
Around 12,000 feet, firmly on the H-W ridge, Mark called it as he was losing steam fast. He found a leisurely rock and settled in for a while before des cent back to camp. Chris and I kept the pace and Chris took the lead. Here we are as two specks from Mark's vantage point
It may not look it from that vantage point, but the normal crossover the ridge onto the Wintun glacier had completely melted out and Chris and I erred in deciding to climb higher before crossing over. I ventured over the scree into the mini-coulior and found rotten snow, punching to my thighs with every step. It still looked better than downclimbing to the headwall scree so I climbed up the couloir. Chris had seen me struggling and climbed much higher up the H-W to the top of the coulior - which looked a LOT easier from my vantange. I crossed over the scree about 75 feet under Chris and punched up more rotten snow to Chris.
Finally we were on the Wintun, but that little excursion had eaten a LOT of time. It was now past noon and we still had over a thousand vert to go while it kept getting hotter and hotter. By the time we reached the top of the Wintun, we were postholing with every step. I was seriously wishing I had brought my verts, as the snow was that soft
Chris had no sooner rounded the corner on the rocks just below the summit that all of a sudden he comes screaming down on his board and stopped by me. "Dude, I just puked and I don't feel so good." Ok...time to go down As close as we were 100-150 feet below the summit, it was the right thing to do. We had both just run out of water and the sweat was pouring off of me in buckets. I still felt "ok" but my energy was waning and our window had passed.
Changed over and away we goooooo...The Wintun was much smoother than the H-W ridge and the first 2,000 feet was divine slop - just don't stop and get knocked over by your wet slough. The Winterstick ST felt so much better in setup now and had now issues with the ride down. I'm glad I swapped over to Sparks to get my positioning right. But since I've now lost ~20lbs and counting, the board is feeling awful stiff. I picked up a Solution this summer based on my experience with the Flagship and Hovercraft and I can honestly say I'm not sure how much more I'll ride the ST, especially if I keep losing the lbs.
We crossed over the scree again and headed down the H-W. The lower we went the more we had to stop and pick our way through the garbage lid crater sized suncups. A few unstraps to cross discontinuous snow and we were within sight of camp. Ironically, the final 500 vert pitch was very fun and I joked to Chris we should have just lapped that all day, LOL.
Mark had already started breaking camp and after a short rest, Chris and I helped him and we were packed and headed down the hill. Found the summer trail pretty easily and the endless switchbacks back to the car.
We didn't make the summit, oh soooooo close, but it was a helluva good climb with good partners. We officially hooked Mark and he's amped for next season. He did DAMN GOOD for his first tour
Here's our line up (red) down (green)
Only person not amped was my wife....since there's no real cell signal on that side of the mountain and we were more than a few hours later than I told her we'd be down - and I told her I'd check in from the summit - she was a tad hysterical when I finally got in touch with her. I'm not the type of person to not check in when I say I will, so I guess I understand. Guess its time to look into one of those Spot locators, even just to check in OK..