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emanuelrohss

Hotlum-Bolam Ridge on Shasta

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Hi there Cascade climbers, 

I'm a beginner mountaineer and alpine climber from California. 

Me and my partner are considering attempting the Hotlum-Bolam Ridge route on Shasta, in about a month, 3rd week of April. Any advice would be much appreciated. Is it too early in the season to ascend the North aspect? 

It'll be our first attempt on Shasta and out first climb in the cascades. I know, the answer is we rookies should cut our teeth on avalanche gulch or one of the more popular routes first to experience a glaciated volcano. Yet, we have trained and are training quite extensively in the Sierra and southern CA peaks, and plan to be up to speed with most concerns on a mountain like Shasta, albeit proper glacier experience is one thing we don't have due to the lack of of them here in California.

We have experience climbing and leading AI 2-3 and WI 2, 3 and 4, and are able to do 12K' gain (out of which 5K' sustained snow and ice climbing) in one long day. So we believe we could climb the ridge and come back in one push if needed, but are also very open to the idea of bivying on the ridge, carrying more and going slower. Any suggestions?

Any and all advice from experienced PNW climbers is much appreciated.

Thank you, 

Emanuel

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Climbed the Hotlum Bolam at the end of February with a buddy. Early season is likely easiest to avoid all glacier/ crevasse problems. There's a "shrund" below the Ramp that was totally filled in when we climbed it, and seems easily avoidable if it opens (see photos of route in summer). 

We camped at around 8k ft in the trees and had a pretty manageable day (be warned though that the road to TH may not be driveable, we started approx. 3 miles down). 

Didn't find anything technical on the route other than (again, avoidable) exposed alpine ice in patches below and above the Ramp, but only up to 40-45 degrees. Felt more like a technical hike than anything. But conditions will likely vary a lot... but I'm guessing that you'll find good spring conditions later in April. 

Have fun and be safe! 

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Hey @ACosta , really appreciate your beta on this. Must've been great to climb it early season, and I can't wait to go! Both on your description and other stuff I read abt the route seem to indicate that the shrund can be navigated around to gain the ridge w/o to much risk.

Do you think a bunch of creavsses will be exposed in later April? 

Did you guys descend the same way?

Thanks a lot!

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On 3/23/2021 at 8:52 PM, emanuelrohss said:

Hi there Cascade climbers, 

I'm a beginner mountaineer and alpine climber from California. 

Me and my partner are considering attempting the Hotlum-Bolam Ridge route on Shasta, in about a month, 3rd week of April. Any advice would be much appreciated. Is it too early in the season to ascend the North aspect? 

It'll be our first attempt on Shasta and out first climb in the cascades. I know, the answer is we rookies should cut our teeth on avalanche gulch or one of the more popular routes first to experience a glaciated volcano. Yet, we have trained and are training quite extensively in the Sierra and southern CA peaks, and plan to be up to speed with most concerns on a mountain like Shasta, albeit proper glacier experience is one thing we don't have due to the lack of of them here in California.

We have experience climbing and leading AI 2-3 and WI 2, 3 and 4, and are able to do 12K' gain (out of which 5K' sustained snow and ice climbing) in one long day. So we believe we could climb the ridge and come back in one push if needed, but are also very open to the idea of bivying on the ridge, carrying more and going slower. Any suggestions?

Any and all advice from experienced PNW climbers is much appreciated.

Thank you, 

Emanuel

Welcome

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I've done this route a number of times both in summer and winter, solo, in a day, camping out, etc. All of the options you list are good. Skis for the approach could save you from post-holing. Storms are no joke on that mountain. That little step up around 13,000' is a great place to experience the full force of cascade tempests and have your tent destroyed. Great place to test your gear and mettle for bigger ranges (hint for Alaska: dig a pit 5' deep in the snow and build an additional circumferential snow wall. A snow saw for making blocks is helpful. When it's really coming down, expect to shovel every 30 mins so you don't get buried). Crevasses were a non-issue, but all of my trips were 20-30 years ago. Don't get stuck on the approach road! Many fun, interesting and challenging routes of Shasta...lots to explore. Steep snow basics like bomber self arrest technique are assumed, and yes I descended the same way (don't fall!).  Be safe! Please post a TR to share your experience.

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