Mt Shasta Guide Training

Mt Shasta Guide Training

Guides on Mt Shasta training for the Shasta Guiding season

Key players in the Blackbird Mountain Guides Mt Shasta Guides team.  Photo: Zeb Blais.

Mt Shasta Guide Training

2024-04-02  |  Avalanche Gulch & Old Ski Bowl

Mt Shasta can be a hazardous mountain and guiding Mt Shasta involves a broad set of skills.  Before guides even leave camp, we're covering pacing and mountaineering efficiency, camp craft and safety skills.  Above camp, guides need to assess hazards like avalanche, rockfall, icefall and steep, firm slopes, while monitoring weather and route conditions.

Shasta mountain guides at Bunny Flats

The Blackbird Mountain Guides team at Bunny Flat on Mt Shasta.  Photo: Zeb Blais.

We assembled our core guide team on Mt Shasta this week to dive into training specific to guiding Mt Shasta and other big mountain climbs.  We covered zones, program flows, techniques and technical skills relevant to guiding our favorite routes on Mt Shasta, the Eastern Sierra, and beyond.

One thing we all noticed immediately was the amount of snow on the mountain.  Despite less snowfall this year than last, there was much more snow STUCK on the mountain than there was last year!  A historically high snowfall year in many parts of California, Mt Shasta was surprisingly devoid of snow at upper elevations last year due to the cold and windy nature of the winter.

Lassen Peak illuminated in the early morning sun on the drive to Mt Shasta.  Photo: Zeb Blais.

Mt Shasta with the Trinity Chutes, Avalanche Gulch and West Face Routes stuffed with snow

Mt Shasta stuffed with snow on the 2nd day of April 2024.  Photo: Zeb Blais.

This year is different: from the trailhead at Bunny Flat to the summit, Mt Shasta is spackled with snow!  The Trinity Chutes are absolutely filled, and the West Face has no bare spots showing - a rarity at any time of year.  Lassen Peak to the South is looking majestic with a thick coat of paint this year as well.

Our training began with an approach to camp and camp craft skills.  The new snow was heavy and wet from a few days of sun after the most recent storm dropped over a foot of snow on the mountain.  The skinning was pretty easy, with ski penetration only about 10-15cm. 


A comfortable camp kitchen on Mt Shasta.  Photo: Zeb Blais.

After setting camp, we skinned up towards Powder Bowl for short roping and technical training.  The snow was quite soft, but we were able to tackle some great skills that we use frequently on Mt Shasta, including Short Roping, Snow Anchors, belays used in Mountaineering and Ski Mountaineering on Mt Shasta and other big mountains like Mt Baker, Mt Rainier and Mont Blanc. 

The Blackbird Mountain Guides team demonstrating and practicing short roping techniques on Mt Shasta.  Photo: Zeb Blais.

Short roping training during Mt Shasta Guides training.  Photo: Zeb Blais.

Discussing transitions and short roping techniques during guide training on Mt Shasta.  Photo: Zeb Blais.

Andrew Krause demonstrating a standing Axe Belay during Shasta Guide Training.  Photo: Zeb Blais.


Andrew doing a braced ski belay on Mt Shasta Guide training.  Photo: Zeb Blais.

When we had our fill of technical systems, it was time to head back to camp for some dinner and sunset views.  It was clear a storm was headed in and the clouds were gathering on the summit of Mt Shasta.

Dinner time! Melting drinking water and cooking is a big part of a guide's job on Mt Shasta.  Photo: Zeb Blais.

Clouds beginning to gather on the summit of Mt Shasta during Shasta Guide training.  Photo: Zeb Blais.

Day 2 of Shasta Mountain Guide training was fully socked in.  Clouds and fog obscured our views.  While limited visibility wouldn't stop us from summitting Mt Shasta, the winds were forecasted to be in the high 90s at 12,000'.  Instead of getting sand-blasated by wind and snow, we opted to refine our pedegogy around skills we teach during our Mt Shasta ski mountaineering and alpine climbing programs.

From mountaineering fundamentals like the Rest Step to cramponing and ice axe skills, we covered teaching skills on our Mt Shasta skiing and climbing programs.  These skills are simple, but absolutely fundamental to a successful climb on big mountains like Mt Shasta, and teaching them takes skill and practice.  

guides backcountry skiing out to the bunny flat trailhead during a storm on Mt Shasta

The Shasta Guide team backcountry skiing back to the trailhead after Guide training.  Another storm incoming!! Photo: Zeb Blais.

We wrapped up the day covering crevasse rescue.  Crevasse Rescue is a skill that requires a lot of baseline knowledge to execute successfully and teaching a simple and concise progression is essential. We covered various scenarios from a roped-climber fall to an unroped skier fall and the best systems to use for each scenario.

After Crevasse Rescue, our brains were full and we were ready to head into town for a delicious lunch at one of our favorite local spots, Pipeline.  Mt Shasta is a lovely experience, from the mountain to the town and the surrounding area.  It really is a magical place!


Interested in Climbing or Skiing Mount Shasta? 

Drop us a line!   Email us at or call 530-414-7778.  We love sharing experiences on Mt Shasta with our guests.  If you've got fitness, we can teach you all the skills you need to climb or ski the mountain!

Check out our Mt Shasta Guided Ski Descents Here.

Check out our Mt Shasta Guided Summit Climbs Here.


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