Six Reasons To Ski Mount Shasta This Spring
Spring skiing thousands of feet of perfect corn snow after a successful climb and summit of Mt. Shasta. Photo: Ali Agee
It's not easy to pick only six reasons to ski this magnificent giant, but we managed to narrow it down. Hint: All six reasons start with an "S".
We’ve all been there: It’s pitch dark and the alarm goes off. Calling off the climb, hitting snooze and sleeping til noon can feel like the obvious choice. But, when the mountains are calling, you gotta answer the call! Breaking through the first dark hours of the day is tough, but as soon as the sun begins to rise you’ll understand the reward: Sunrise high in the Cascades can’t be beat! Sun hitting the mountains from high on a volcano is an exhilarating experience that never gets old.
Mount Shasta is the largest stratovolcano in the Cascade Mountain Range (by volume) and at 14,179’, it is second in height only to Mount Rainier. In California, it is the 5th highest peak and it boasts more than 9,700’ of prominence! Whether you do it in one day or three, you’ll cover over 7,000’ of elevation from the bottom to the top!
Avalanche Gulch is just one of many stellar routes to climb and ski on Mount Shasta. Photo: Ali Agee
SKILLS & ABILITIES
Climbing a big mountain like Shasta requires a variety of skills and abilities. Climbing steep, firm snow, managing big mountain weather, avoiding overhead hazards like falling ice and rock, dealing with altitude and skiing down incredible corn snow all take experience to master and make the experience incredibly rewarding!
Specific skills needed to climb and ski Mount Shasta include:
Fitness: Mount Shasta is a massive physical challenge. It requires efficiency with climbing technique, excellent endurance, and the ability to ski with a heavy pack. Ensuring that you are in excellent physical shape will be key to your success on the mountain, and the reward of the summit will be well worth the training effort you put into it.
Sharps: Whether you choose a program where you’re already solid with your ice axe and crampon abilities, or a program where we teach you how to use them, these skills are also crucial to your mountain climbing success. Ice axes and crampons are fundamental to both efficiency and safety on big mountain climbs like Shasta.
Leave No Trace: Want to be a good steward of the land? Throughout our climb of Mount Shasta, we will learn how to care for the environment and minimize our impacts.
Altitude: Going from zero to hero is sometimes used in a positive way and sometimes a negative. Going from 7,000’-14,000’ in a short period of time is a big change and people respond differently based on genetics, fitness, hydration and more. Learning how altitude affects you is critical for understanding how you will perform on Shasta and other high altitude climbs and ski descents across the globe. Shasta is a great place to explore your body’s response to altitude and our guides will be happy to help you understand this process!
Snow Camping: A skill indeed! Never done it before? Snow camping is a huge amount of fun and our guides are experts at teaching techniques to do it in the most comfortable way possible!
Climbing up the Hotlum-Wintun route on a lovely spring day. Excited for the long ski descent to come! Photo: Ali Agee
Corn snow! Corn skiing can be as satisfying as skiing fresh powder, and Shasta is renowned for its incredible expanses of incredible corn. Imagine a ski descent, sustained for thousands of feet, with views for hundreds of miles, on perfect, groomer-like corn! It’s a ski mountaineer’s dream!
Our guides will time the ski descent to find the perfect corn surface before it softens to mush and ruins the descent.
Shasta has always been shrouded in mysticism, and tales of a Lemurian city underneath Mount Shasta add intrigue to this ski mountaineering gem. Whether you choose to climb with a crystal to balance the root chakra, or ignore the Lemurian legends and summit without, the pinnacle of Mount Shasta is a breathtaking place and an incredible adventure!
When is the best time to climb or ski Mt. Shasta? As soon as possible!
Last year in 2021, the Shasta skiing and mountaineering season ended months earlier than “normal” due to a lack of snow. This year is shaping up to be yet another low snow year. We’ve got trips starting in April.
Get it while the getting is good!
Timing our climb and ski of Mt. Shasta just right meant skiing perfect corn snow the whole way back down to the trailhead! Photo: Ali Agee