6.27.2009

Too High To Get Over


Climbing Mt Shasta is something that not everyone wants to do. Sometimes I wonder why people, myself included, subject themselves to such pain and misery. I usually wonder this as I am trudging up an almost 90 degree hill, wheezing from the lack of oxygen, and tired from climbing since before dawn. 
 
We started the first day in good spirits. At 6,900 ft, it is easy to be in good spirits! We hiked until Horse Camp, which is about 2 or 2.5 miles and is the last source of water (fresh from Shasta Mountain springs…delicious!). After Horse Camp, all you can do is melt snow for water. So, we filled up on water, said goodbye to Buffy, Sierra and Levi, who had hiked up with us to that point, and headed up the hill. 

From this point on, it was snow the whole way. No trail, just straight up the mountain in the snow.
After hiking about 6 hours, we reached Lake Helen, which was where we were going to stay the night. Lake Helen sits at about 10,400 ft and is pretty much the only flat spot on the mountain, which is probably why it is a good place to stop. We set up camp and started making dinner. Shortly after eating, we went to bed. 
We got up at 3 am to start the climb to the summit. Randy and Matt surged ahead, while Dad and I kept up the rear. I thought the day before was hard, but this climb REALLY WAS straight up! Wearing crampons and using our ice axes, we crept up the mountain, rest step by rest step, finally reaching the top about 6 hours later. Once we reached the summit (14,179 ft), we knew why we did this. From the top you can see Mt. Lassen, Oregon and much of the Cascade Range. The 360 view is amazing. The day was sunny and mostly clear and the mountains around us were beautiful. We also saw some sort of fighter plane that whooshed RIGHT past us as we were standing atop the mountain. It can’t get much better than this!
We were tired, hungry and burnt (sooooo burnt!) but now we still had to climb down. Luckily, you can climb part of the way down and the other half you can glissade, which is like riding a big slide down the mountain. You just sit in the snow and cruise down on your butt. It is cold and wet, but we got down to Lake Helen in about 2 hours. You cant beat that!! 
At Lake Helen, we packed up the tent, took half hour naps and tried to stay out of the sun, which was burning us up from the top and the bottom. From Lake Helen back to Horse Camp took a couple of hours; we didn’t get to glissade as much as we wanted, but we did hit a couple of slides, and so it made going down a little quicker. We got back to Bunny Flats (6,900 ft) and the car around 5, starved, burned, tired and sore, but glad we made it.
See Photos HERE.

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