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plark42

Shasta acclimization...

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Hey SP'ers-

 

My girlfriend and I are planning on climbing Shasta on Memorial Day weekend (get ready for the crowds!).. I wanted to get an idea of where and how high to camp.

 

We are coming from Davis, CA- which is basically sea level. When I climbed 14'ers in Colorado the altitude was still pretty brutal even though I was acclimated to 6600 feet (living in Colo Spgs). However I usually did the mountains in a single push.. usually 3-4000 feet of gain from the trailhead.

 

We are thinking of going up Saturday morning, setting up camp at Horse Camp and do an acclimization hike as far up as we can bear (and sleep at the lower elevation). Then move up to Lake Helena on Sunday and summit on Monday morning and hike out.

 

Has anyone every done Shasta this way? Would it make more sense to just push it out and make it to Lake Helena on Saturday and get up and down ASAP Sunday?

 

Please give me some feedback.. what's the best way to attack Shasta (from Avalanche Gulch)..

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If you want to avoid the crowds, climb Shasta via Horsecamp and then to the Northwest up the valley between Shasta and Shastina. There are plenty of good camps that way and you can easily get there on Saturday. Horsecamp is a zoo. Above the Shastina saddle, it is good climbing over the Cascade Glacier, and then you re-connect with the mob coming up Avalanche Gulch.

Have Fun!

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This is exactly how I did it my first time. Drove up from the bay area and hiked into Horse Camp where I slept the first night. Went for a hike up to Hidden Valley and the Shasta - Shastina saddle the second day (nearly 12000'). Then went up Shasta the last day via Avy Gulch. I started at 3am, got to Helen Lake by 5-ish, topped out around 10.

 

The nice thing about Horse Camp vs. Helen Lake is that there will be (a) running water (b) restroom © no/few winds flapping your tent at night (d) relative warmth. While Horse Camp can get noisy during the day it quiets down quickly because most people are doing the same thing you are - going to sleep early for an alpine start.

 

I went up West Face Gully last weekend via Hidden Valley with a small group and found it very pleasant. It's a little stiffer route than Avy Gulch and the x/c navigation into the valley is a little more demanding, but you might like it nonetheless.

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So you camped at Horse Camp for 2 nights? Would there be any advantage to camping at Helen Lake the 2nd night? Would it make acclimating any easier? probably not I presume..

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In theory sleeping at a higher elevation should make acclimatization easier. But also consider that Helen Lake is windier and colder. The noise of your tent flapping could keep you awake all night. The colder temps in the morning may be enough to keep you from wanting to get up at 2am (or whatever).

 

You could also crash at the trailhead the first night, say after driving up from the valley. That's high enough (for me) to make Shasta a day-trip. Last July we slept at Northgate the first night, went up Hotlum-Bolam Ridge, and then descended Avy Gulch in a day (using a car shuttle).

 

Depends on what kind of shape you're in and whether or not you've been at that altitude before (or recently).

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camp at the trailhead or go straight to helen lake, avoid horse camp, doubtful there will be running water there yet, still a ton of snow.

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I am in pretty good shape.. though I haven't been at that kind of altitude in over a year!!.. either way it's going to kick my ass..

 

I like the idea of making it to Helen Lake on Saturday and climbing Shasta on Sunday.. I could spend some time to construct nice snow walls so that the wind won't be much of an issue.. (and that way making dinner won't be as cold)..

 

thanks for the advise.. keep it coming...

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I was there on Sunday. There is still a ton of snow, but the spring was in the process of being dug out and wanded.

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Unless you have some sort of disease or are old, just do it car to car in a day and suck it up.

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Your plan (1 night Horse Camp/1 night Lake Helen) sounds like a good, conservative way to do the climb.

 

Many will disagree, but I am convinced that rushing up from sea level and sleeping at 10,400+ is not a good way to acclimatize. I would put the priority on getting a good night's rest. The day sortie should help reset your respiration rate to the higher elevation.

 

Night 2 at Lake Helen has the disadvantage of the weather/wind issue (I've been hammered by wind up there), plus the additional elev. which could make sleep difficult.

 

That said, it's a long way from Horse Camp to the summit. Cutting it in half is probably a good compromise.

 

You might enjoy the Avalanche Gulch Trip Report I just posted on my site.

 

Andy

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