| The Trinity Chutes
The Trinity Chutes
So a couple of weeks ago I decided to join the exodus from CB, throwing all my worldly possessions in a 4x5 storage unit and leaving without a goodbye. Enough with the elitism, rednecks, and ski town ethnocentrics. The place is beautiful, but it just wasn't worth the price to me anymore. After a dozen years in the valley I needed a change of venue. A good friend of mine has been working as a climbing ranger on Mount Shasta for several years now, and we often exchanged the virtues of either or. I decided it was finally time to take his offer, and although I can't say I will never look back, I have been having a great time with some new friends out here.
Mount Shasta, from Castle Crags
Mount Shasta is one of the largest strato volcanoes in the Cascades. Driving in from the south through the Lassen National Forrest it dominated the view fifty miles off like a giant pearl. The snow was still so white, and still looked great for riding!
From Bunny Flats, 6,900 ft, Nick, Hannie, Forrest, and I skinned up the standard route into Avalanche Gulch for a high camp at lake Hellen, 10,400 ft, spending the rest of the afternoon cowering from the sun at the ranger's tent, slathering on the sunscreen and improvising for shade. The long and spectacular sunset over the Eddy and Trinity Range was worth the stay. I bivied out on the snow, watching the full moon rise over the ridge.
The Shasta Shadow
We started out from camp about six, with axes and crampons on a well established booter catching several guided parties. In the previous week there had been several injuries to climbers due to the constantly shedding rime ice and rockfall from the loose volcanic conglomerate of the Red Banks lining the rim of Avalanche Gulch. We stayed to the right side to stay out of the most likely path. The ridge was farther than it looked, another 2,000 ft from camp at least. Then short hill, then misery hill, and finally the long flat football field to the summit pinnacles. The pungent smell of sulpher lingered at the base of the summit pitch, and everything was heavily crusted over with rime ice.
I spent a lot of time chatting it up with folks along the way. Forrest had already left for a call down the mountain when I finally reached the top, and Nick and Hannie decided to ski around the east side back to the football field. I signed the register, took some pictures for a group from Iran, and clipped in on the spot to pick my way down the rough rime ice through a slot off the summit.
We rode back across the football field and down skiers right on Misery Hill to the top of the Trinity Chutes. I was warned about the notoriously icy conditions in these chutes, so we were surprised to find them in nearly perfect condition for shredding. A few inches of nice corn, that got better with every turn. They went at about 45 degrees. A sustained drop that went on and on.
We packed up at the lake, and continued down for more great turns down the Gulch to the Bunny Flats. 7,300 ft of riding!
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