Mount Shasta: Adventures in Misadventure

* Note: In the course of this trip, though I took many pictures, but my phone met a fate akin to death. For great writing, and wonderful images of the route, please check out Sierra Descents!

It's important to note that Mount Shasta is a stratovolcano of unparalleled dimension.

Rising 14,164 feet above sea level, Shasta is the unrivaled monarch of the State of Jefferson (read NorCal), and though she isn't the tallest American Cascade, she trumps her higher counterpart, Mt. Rainier (14,410 ft.) in terms of sheer volume alone.

Well into my quest to climb California's fifteen peaks over 14,000 feet, I felt that it was time to make the pilgrimage northward to tick off this impressive fourteener.

Knowing that Shasta is a big mountain, it makes sense that the reaching the summit is an equally big climb. From the parking area on Everitt Memorial Highway the easiest route to Shasta's summit up Avalanche Gulch, gains 7,300 feet in a mere 5.5 miles.


Also knowing that such a trip involves a long drive, ice, noteworthy incline, high-altitude, and Shasta’s famously fickle weather; I had been waiting to arrange the proper gear, waiting for the proper season, and waiting for the proper weather window.

I had aimed to make the trip over Memorial Day weekend, but having a few things pop up, my work schedule was set back, as was my training schedule.


Over the weekend of June 4th a great weather window materialized and though I couldn’t find a partner, I decided to go for it.

I packed everything up in the week and set out to make a run on Saturday starting at midnight, hoping to do it in a day, get a motel Sat night, and drive home Sunday.

As the 4th drew closer I got more and more excited: I wanted this mountain.

More than my basic pursuit of the California 14er list, I found myself unusually keen on climbing Shasta.


The first time I laid eyes on Shasta was during a family vacation to Oregon when I was a teenager. Having headed north along the scenic California's coast, now tired, my family headed home along the central corridor of Interstate 5.

Driving through Klamath Falls Oregon, we espied Shasta's wintry head for the first time, while we were still some 60 miles away.

For the next 3 hours of our drive, we craned our necks in the car, rarely taking our eyes off Shasta's commanding slopes.

In those hours, long before the mountaineer in me had been formed, I found myself wondering what it would feel like to set my feet on Shasta's white snows, walk beneath her red ridges, and perhaps, even tiptoe towards her celestial summit.

With both worry and hope, I set off for the 10 hour drive, parked my car among many at Bunny Flat and padded off into the dark night, unaware that I had already made a costly mistake.



* Note: In the course of this trip, though I took many pictures, but my phone met a fate akin to death. For great writing, and wonderful images of the route, please check out Sierra Descents!

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