With much joy, I have eventually summitted Mount Shasta, completing my quest to summit the five highest peaks (Mount Rainier, Mount Shasta, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, Mount Baker) of the Cascade Volcanoes! Adding to the excitement, this marked my second successful one-day push to the summit of a 14er. My previous endeavor, also in the golden state of California, led me to the awe-inspiring heights of Mount Whitney.
For quite some time, Mount Shasta had been a prominent marker on my travel map. However, its remote location and inconvenience of transportation kept this mesmerizing destination at bay. Fortunately, a recent road trip with friends transformed the 9-hour drive from Seattle to Mount Shasta into a delightful and memorable adventure. In retrospect, I discovered that Medford, a convenient connecting point for fligths, could have been an excellent alternative - offering typically $200 round trip fares if booked well in advance. But predicting the weather is always a gamble, and our journey presented the added bonus of a leisurely lunch and shopping break in Oregon. Looking back, the drive was much fun.
Mother’s Day weekend drew crowds to the mountain, with cars overflowing the parking lot and lining the road for hundreds of yards. We reached our destination around 10PM, stealing a brief nap before embarking on our journey from the trailhead before 3AM. The moon had yet to grace, leaving the stars to illuminate. With the dazzling cosmos overhead, we set our sights on the Avalanche Gulch route and began our ascent.
This ascent proved to be a unique experience. Within a short time, we had left the tree line behind, revealing the entire mountain before us. Shrouded in darkness and devoid of moonlight, the mountain’s imposing silhouette served as a mysterious backdrop to our route. We spotted several glimmers of headlamps ahead, which soon vanished into the sky, indistinguishable from the distant stars.
As we pressed on, we could feel the once-melted snow had refrozen beneath our feet, creating a layer of ice that made the ascent challenging without crampons. At around 4 AM, the moon finally emerged, swiftly illuminating our surroundings. With two more hours of steadfast effort, the sun eventually crept over the cliffs. The powerful solar radiation rapidly melted the frozen world around us, transforming our surroundings into a glistening wonderland.
Reaching the summit of Mount Shasta was relatively less formidable when comparing with the other vocalnoes. The true challenge did not lie in overcoming any treacherous terrains but more in adapting to combat the significant elevation gain during a one-day push. There was no obvious crater shape at the top of the mountain, but the sulphur springs still reminded you the latent power that dwells within this colossal mountain.
Descent, however, presented a wholly different story – one that could only be aptly described as a struggle. As the snow melted, it became wet and sticky, making the entire 7000ft elevation drop soggy and clingy.
Riding through the red bank was a spectable. The hues and formations of the rocks were a sight to behold, a rarity not found amongst the peaks in PNW. Skiers obviously had a much rougher time than us snowboarders due to the snow condition. But eventually everyone returned safe and sound.
Attached a summiting route for reference, along with some pictures of myself. And one thing to add was that I inadvertently left the camera’s format set to JPEG instead of RAW, causing trouble denoising the pictures, especially those shot during the night.