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Mt Shasta, Avy Gulch Trail conditions

14ers in California and Washington state or any other peak in the USA
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Mt Shasta, Avy Gulch Trail conditions

Postby boudreaux » Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:06 pm

I was talking to the rangers at Mt Shasta today and they told me the rockfall on the Avy Gulch route is considerable and very dangerous. They suggested I do the Clear Creek route on the east side of the mountain. I was just wondering if the rangers are exaggerating somewhat, I mean how bad could it really be, right? Has anyone been up there in Sept and seen the rockfall. Just need a little info to make some decisions with. Thanks
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Re: Mt Shasta, Avy Gulch Trail conditions

Postby thebeave7 » Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:32 pm

The few times I've been to Shasta its been mostly snow covered, so take the advice with a grain of salt. But when it melts out Avy Gulch is a giant boulder field all the way through the Red Banks. That coupled with the large amounts of traffic make for some nasty rock fall potential. If you can do one of the other routes then that would be better. If you want more precise conditions head over to the California Forum on Summitpost.org as there are a few members there from the Shasta area that might be able to chime in.

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Re: Mt Shasta, Avy Gulch Trail conditions

Postby ed20320 » Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:03 am

I've been there twice and don't see why it would be a problem. the trail get a little narrow above the heart, but i didn't experience any rock fall. if you were planning on doing the ridge on either side of the gulch, i could see that.

I guess i should also point out that i climbed the mountain in May (both times)

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Re: Mt Shasta, Avy Gulch Trail conditions

Postby Scott P » Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:08 am

I've been there late season (mid-August) and understand that the south side is pretty tedious and that it's mostly a scree slog late season.

We climbed the north side which is in condition late season. I'd consider climbing the north side of the mountain.

Is there any reason why you are set on the Avalanche Gulch route? If not, there are many other routes available.
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Re: Mt Shasta, Avy Gulch Trail conditions

Postby peter303 » Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:11 am

I did the gulch snow-free in August some years ago.
Its very annoying scree for at least a mile - like Bross or Columbia.
There is a little class 3 part when you go through the overhang above the gulch. Then its a walk up after that.

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Re: Mt Shasta, Avy Gulch Trail conditions

Postby kaiman » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:22 am

I climbed Mount Shasta from the North via Hotlam-Bolam Ridge/Glaciers during the first week of August and was also told by a Park Ranger I called to get info on several routes that the rock fall on Avalanche Gulch was pretty bad below the Red Banks. I wondered the same thing, until I saw it for myself. I don't have a picture but as we were driving south of Weed towards Shasta City you can see the route and I could see the stains in the snow from rock fall tumbling down into Avalanche Gulch so I don't think it's an exaggeration.

It doesn't surprise me that there is so much rockfall there. All of the Cascades I've climbed have some of the loosest rock I've ever seen. It almost makes the San Juan's and Elk Range look solid! :wink:

If the Clear Creek route is not to your liking you could try to find some reports on the Hotlam-Bolam route, although I suspect it is pretty icy by now. It was beginning to ice up a bit when I was there especially the headwall above the Hotlam Glacier just below the summit ridge and was pretty badly sun-cupped in spots. Still manageable though. If I have time today I will post a couple pics.

Like others have said check out SummitPost for info on CA or visit the Cascade Climbers site and someone should be able to give you some recent beta.

kaiman
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Re: Mt Shasta, Avy Gulch Trail conditions

Postby boudreaux » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:51 am

Thanks guys for all the info, I will post something on Cascade to see what they think, but I will most probably do Shasta from Clear Creek TH. Are the routes on the northside good for a solo attempt and have lots of crevasses to contend with? Although I have done some work with hard snow, I have never been on ice and not really sure if I want to do something like that solo.

Not really, but it was the first one I looked at. With all the info I have been getting from here and other sites, I have concluded it is better to climb this in the spring, early summer, but Sept is the only month I can do it, so it should be one hell of a day next week!
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Re: Mt Shasta, Avy Gulch Trail conditions

Postby kaiman » Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:04 am

boudreaux wrote:Thanks guys for all the info, I will post something on Cascade to see what they think, but I will most probably do Shasta from Clear Creek TH. Are the routes on the northside good for a solo attempt and have lots of crevasses to contend with? Although I have done some work with hard snow, I have never been on ice and not really sure if I want to do something like that solo.


Oh, I didn't realize you were doing this as a solo climb... In that case, probably the only route on the north side that you would want to consider doing solo is the Hotlam-Bolam Ridge route. Except for early in the spring, both the Hotlam and Bolam Glacier direct routes are crevassed and should only be attempted with a party that is proficient in crevasse rescue and is roped.

The Hotlam-Bolam route avoids most of the crevasse danger and can be done solo. The biggest danger is during the descent when people have been known to glissade into the bergschrund, however, when we were there, the cracks were very obvious and easy to stay away from. This is really a classic mixed snow and rock route with lots of snow climbing some easy Class 3 scrambling near the top.

Here are a couple pictures of the route to give you some idea:

IMG_5350-2.jpg
IMG_5350-2.jpg (278.86 KiB) Viewed 378 times


IMG_5340-2.jpg
IMG_5340-2.jpg (318.19 KiB) Viewed 378 times


Happy Trails!

kaiman
"I want to keep the mountains clean of racism, religion and politics. In the mountains this should play no role."

- Joe Stettner

"Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end."

- Edward Whymper

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