While we have been out in Mt Shasta, Reed and I have been sleeping at the Bunny Flat trailhead to make it that much easier to get after it in the morning. And although it is very beautiful (and sometimes humorous), there is pretty much a steady stream of cars coming and going due to the many different times climbers start their day. Ice axes and snowboards clank on the ground at any hour and wake the resting skier, so proper positioning when parking the vehicle is mandatory.
Today we were skiing with the owner of Shasta Mountain Guides, Chris Carr. Chris and his wife Jen have owned the company for the past 5 years, but Chris has many more years of guiding on the mountain under his belt. Climbing the mountain is very popular and his outfit guides around 1000 enthusiasts up the hill each season. On this and past trips, I have met many of his guides and they have all been very helpful and easy going, much like many of the people in the town of Mt Shasta itself. The climb can be very arduous for Californians coming from the Bay area (and sea level), and going all the way to the 14,162′ summit and down in two days can really take it out of some people.
We got an early start today and had a few things in mind to ski, but really the plans were left open to do whatever we wanted. Some strong winds were producing some clouds near Thumb Rock in the morning, and we weren’t sure what the weather had in store for us. As we made our way up the hill, I noticed that many of the skiers and snowboarders had whippets, and even homemade ones at that. It is interesting how certain types of equipment are very popular in specific areas. IHMO, I would say that although I personally like using the Black Diamond made self-arrest pole, you don’t see them used by Jacksonians very much, so it was good to see them used by many out here.
We moved quickly when we had to, and rested when we could get out of the wind. Reed was allowed to lead the final few steps to the summit since it was his first time, and we snapped a few summit shots for the archives. It was surprisingly not too windy (or crowded) on top, and we sat down for a long time, while many of Chris’s friends we had passed on the way up slowly arrived. Now many summit experiences can be surreal and memorable, but this one in particular will stand out for the rest of my life. See…one young female snowboarder in the group, Shannamar, had a dream of getting her picture taken on the summit with a bikini on. About 10 of us bros looked at each other at amazement and I honorably offered assistance to help her put it on without getting too cold and revealing any private parts to the world and the wind. We all quickly pulled out our cameras to capture the moment. Shannamar was in her element at this moment and I admired her greatly for following through with her dream.
After our long break on the summit, we decided it was time to ski and mobbed off the top in a group, with a few of us opting to ski from just off the top. The winds wreak havoc up here and the rimy snow conditions are extremely challenging for the first hundred or so feet. We skied another line in the Trinity chutes and ripped huge GS turns on the open slopes down to Lake Helen. I was glad I had my big Verdicts for stability. Some of our crew was a little slower and like any good guide, Chris waited for them to catch up.
I have emailed and talked with Chris on the phone a few times in the past, so it was nice to finally ski with him today. On my last trip to Mt Shasta, I saw an inexperienced climber wearing his crampons on backwards, and on this one I saw some taped on some boots with cloth medical tape. These practices can be very dangerous, so if you don’t have the proper gear or experience, get with Shasta Mountain Guides to get you to the top and back safely. If our experience today with Chris is any indication of what to expect, I can assure you the trip will be one to remember.