SMG Mt. Shasta Backcountry Conditions report – 3.26.15
By Shasta Mountain Guides
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With new snow and cooler than normal temps there really was no choice but to head up the mountain and check on ski and avalanche conditions, cracked ribs or not!
Monday was a bit of a surprise to see stars in the morning so we left SMG HQ for a quick hike up the gulch. There are few vistas more inspiring than a newly frosted Mt. Shasta. The first round brought 8-10″ of new light density snow, perhaps a foot in places with gusty blowing winds above 9,000′
Another smaller system added a few more inches Tuesday with snow levels down to 5,000′. With clearing forecast for Wednesday and above normal temps coming this week, we decided to head back up before the sun and wind did any significant damage and enjoy the winter-like snow sliding.
Apparantly many others were thinking the same, I was somewhat surprised to see so many people out climbing and skiing mid week so early in the season. There were multiple groups of visiting skiers and riders and it’s fun to be out with so many stoked backcountry shredders! Mt. Shasta has been a focal point for West Coast backcountry skiing and this will only increase this Spring as resorts continue to close early for the 2015 season.
We are somewhat concerened for wet slide activity as the temps climb today and this week. Last week’s storms produced some good size wet slides. We now have additional snow and with the observed winds this week, the upper slopes of Casaval Ridge and the Trinity Chutes will certainly be loaded.
These slopes also receive the most solar input and we’re pretty confident we’ll see a repeat of wet slides from steep south east aspects. Heads up today (3.26) especially and into the weekend.
The USFS Mt. Shasta Avalanche Center issued a midweek update on Monday afternoon. Stability tests indicated good bonding with the new snow at mid elevations. However, good timing and cautious route finding will be essential to minimize hazard from the forecasted warm temps this week. There may be some wind slabs which developed as well so heads up if venturing onto the upper mountain.
After a lackluster winter, it’s easy to let our guard down when the sun is shining and temps are mild, but lets not be complacent. We observed several red flag factors; new snow, wind transport, and now warming temps. Please be cautious out there!