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Sig Olsen

[TR] Mt. Shasta - Avalanche Gulch 6/27/2012

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Trip: Mt. Shasta - Avalanche Gulch


Date: 6/27/2012


Trip Report:

First off, thanks to everyone for all the advice and support.

Arrived at bunny flat trailhead Tuesday June 26th and slept in the rental van.

Headed up with a guy named Al that I meet in the parking lot. We both liked the idea of hiking up with someone. Basically snow free up past the horse camp. Running water coming out of the pipe there was nice and cold. As the trail went steep it was covered in snow the rest of the way. I took the gully left of Helen lake. Reportedly I should have went up the right side which is much less direct. Only one campsite was snow free. I didn't get that one :-( Al wasn't feeling well so he didn't head up the next morning. I left my campsite at 5 am to give it a shot. Wasn't very long before I noticed I had to zig zag up or I would throw up. Winds howled probably 25-45 throughout the day. Winds picked up soon as I got above the red banks. Up to misery hill it seemed like mostly wind blown ice. Up to the summit the winds were about as strong as I ever care to be in with that exposure. At about 12-12:30 I had rested for a couple minutes at the summit when a guy was disoriented and needed someone to show him where to go. That was a real eye opener. With about 6 oz of water I was ready to blaze down. Got him on trail and then found a fast rhythm. Picked up pack at misery hill and luckily saw a few people roped up going down. Speed up to catch them. Found stepping in snow was dangerous but much faster than stepping on hard trail. Blazed past a couple groups until getting to red banks around the heart. Glissaded all the way to Helen lake almost in 25 minutes from red banks. Figured it was as good as any place to learn how to glissade :-)back at campsite around 1:30. Yep so 7.5 hours up and 1 hour down. Stayed at Helen that night. Heading down the next day I noticed so much more snow melted in just 2 days.


Gear Notes:

Thanks to Dane and everyone for gear recommendations. Scarpa phantom guides are amazing. Even on regular trail walking. The primaloft jackets worked great for layering. Sunscreen! I am sooo burnt. Picked up some aloe ice at 5th season and it really works. Boot warmer packs will be coming next time. Boots were cold even in my sleeping bag during the night. One note, this was my first snow mountain and all new gear mentioned.


Approach Notes:

Zig zag the snow for easier travel. Glissade down. Much faster and easier. You can cut your leg with your ice axe glissading if you're not careful. 2 gashes on my leg about 8 inches.

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Tip- Keeping the proper self arrest grip on the head of your axe, turn your wrist in such a way as to point the pick vertically away from your leg while glissading. You will still be able to drag the spike behind you to control speed. Feels weird at first, but you get used to it, and it will save your leg from those nasty cuts.


Nice work! Shasta is on my list one of these days.

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Congrats Sig! :fahq: As long as you learn and live. The curve is steep but the difference from planning from afar to execution in person is like from womb to world. I am sure you are much much more mentally prepared for future climbing endeavors - you spent a lot of time here asking good questions and getting the gear covered in addition to any training you did.


I warned you about the sunscreen. . . :whistle: hope it heals quickly. small prices to pay for a successful first climb.

UV radiation increases 4% per 1000ft above sea level

snow reflects 85% of UV rays. Sometimes I think I could cook a raw chicken in solar cooker on top of my backpack.


thanks for sharing back with us

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Not sure what's next mountain-wise. Probably the alpine ascent 8 day school/summit for rainier next year

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