Mt. Shasta, CA Backcountry Report: 3+ Feet of New Snow

Guest Author | | Conditions ReportConditions Report
Mt. Shasta stock photo:  photo:  P. Blair/National Geographic/Getty images
Mt. Shasta stock photo: photo: P. Blair/National Geographic/Getty images

Mt. Shasta Backcountry Conditions *storm update* 2.7.15

by Mt. Shasta Guides

Wow, what a storm! Over 3 feet of new snow fell on Mt. Shasta and town at 3,600′ shattered the rainfall record with 4.87″ measured on Friday. The old record of 2.87″ was set in 1908. And there is more on the way. The snowfall on the mountain was extreme and coming in sheets, the tracks would refill in a matter of minutes. It’s always quite a thrill to experience the ferocity of a Mt. Shasta winter storm and this one didn’t disappoint.

This is fantastic news on every level, a good boost to our snowpack and reservoirs is just what we need in the Golden State. The challenge now lies the in the short term management of all this precipitation. Today (Sat 2/7) the Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center issued a HIGH hazard rating for today. Travel in avalanche terrain is NOT recommended and human triggered avalanches are VERY likely. Local streams are flooding and numerous trees are down.

Shooting cracks on Mt. Shasta 2.6.15

So in the short term we’ll be taking it easy in mellow terrain; sticking to slopes less than 30*, in the trees, and out from runout zones. It’s still possible with careful route selection to have a safe, enjoyable day in the mountains. But if there is ever a time to be cautious in the backcountry, now is it.

We witnessed 4 of the 5 Red Flags; recent heavy snowfall, shooting cracks and test slope failures, rapid wind loading, warming temps, and very likely natural avalanche activity though not observed due to storm conditions.

There are no better conditions for our AIARE Level I Avalanche Seminar next week Feb 14-16. With a deep snowpack, more storms on the way, and signs of instability, the LI is core material for backcountry skiers. Enroll your parter if they don’t have avalanche education, it could save your life.

We’re not done with the wet weather, we’re likely to receive a couple more feet of snow by the time it clears out next Tuesday. With winds, fluctuating snow levels, and continued snow load, the right call will be to remain vigilant and cautious until the pack has a chance to adjust. With Sunday’s cooler temps, the right finish could make for some excellent tree skiing, enjoy and be safe.

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