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Bluebird Weekend on the West Face of Mt. Shasta

05/07/2019 7:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

“North of Casaval Ridge is a beautiful, long gully that begins in HIdden Valley at 9,200 feet and ends nearly 4,000 feet later at the broad snowfield at the base of Misery Hill.” (Selters and Zanger, The Mt. Shasta Book, 3rd ed.)

Many believe that the West Face is the prettiest route on Mt. Shasta. I know eight MAA climbers who won’t argue with that. In 2018, this trip was cancelled due to a late-season storm. This year, the weather was perfect and the snowpack was deep.

We departed Bunny Flat before 9am on Friday, May 3rd. The hike to Horse Camp followed an astonishing 300 foot-wide debris path from a “100-year” avalanche in February. We cached our snow shoes at Horse Camp and traversed to Hidden Valley.

On Saturday, an alpine start under a new moon created a navigational challenge. We needed to occasionally turn off our headlamps to visually navigate by the faint light of the Milky Way. The icy crust of the West Face (35 to 40 degrees) was ideal for a moderate, non-technical climb with crampons and mountaineering axes. The first climbers reached the top of the West Face (13,100’) at 8am. After a long break, we trudged up Misery Hill, walked to the fumaroles, and climbed the picturesque summit block.

The descent featured 3,000’ glissade led by Aaron “buns of steel” Bailey.  Icy patches provided plenty of opportunities for self arrest. It was a highlight of the trip. After well-deserved night of sleep, we hiked out on Sunday morning.

Team: John Scruggs (EL), Natasha Wyatt, Aaron Bailey, Sissy Petropoulou, Leslie Thomas, Nick Myllenbeck, Phil Lowenthal, Dan Kubaczyk

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