Mt. Shasta is always a spring skiing favorite, and with a bit of new snow in the past 24 hours things are skiing great up that way. While we only hiked to about 10,000 feet during a backcountry skills workshop hosted by Rich Meyer, the skiing was getting better and better with each foot of vertical gained. Starting from the Bunny Flat trail head, there’s only about 7-10 minutes of dirt walking and then its skis on and commence uphill mode.
Quick ‘n’ Dirty Shasta Conditions
- Walk time from trail head to snow: 8 minutes
- Sun Cups: Minimal to none
- 24 hour new snow: .5″-3″
- Fun to be had: A lot
If the prime Shasta conditions and prospect of skiing smooth corn, and potentially 6000 vert at that, isn’t enough maybe the drive can convince you. Things are just a little more green and a little more breathtaking at Mt. Shasta than at your everyday mountain destination. Green trees aside, the skiing above treeline was simply fun. The skinning is easy (slopes don’t get much above 35 degrees until about 12,000 feet) and the ride back down is relatively long and certainly satisfying, especially for May 17th.
The snow line from the trail head is quickly and easily reached within a few minutes, and the only nasty sun cups existed in the flat drainage that makes up the approach to the base of Avalanche Gully. After a bit of combat skinning through the bottom drainage, things open up and its smooth sailing. On slope the sun cups conveniently remained at a minimum, although there did exist the runnels from run off and snow melt that you get with late spring conditions. Overall a surprisingly smooth ski.
A quick interlude for Shasta Fun Facts!
– Mt. Shasta is the most massive mountain in the US, at over 100 cubic miles of mass
– The mountain is considered a dormant, not inactive, volcano
– Dan Towner holds the record number of ascents of Shasta, topping out at over 140
– Mount Shasta received the most snowfall ever in a single snowstorm: 189 inches over February 13th to the 19th, 1959
– The youngest person to successfully climb Mount Shasta was a five-year-old girl in the 1960’s
– In the 1980’s the oldest human to summit was an 86-year-old man
With the conveniently recent spring showers, Shasta was blanketed (if you can call it that) with a bit of new snow, totaling from around .5″ to about 3″ where things were ‘deep’ and ready to send. The new snow did offer up a much welcomed refresh, filling in and smoothing out most of the sun cups and priming the mountain for a weekend of fun in the sun. The new snow is also the perfect reset for the corn farming cycle.
The ski down was a welcomely smooth ride, compared to most of the skiing to be found at this point in the spring. Things weren’t overly sticky and were nicely buffed out after a bit of new snow. Unfortunately we only skied down from about 10,000 feet, but the Trinity Chutes were looking primed and ready to go. Reports are that the skiing near the summit is marginal at best, with large degree of wind scour and a general lacking of snow leaving things sub-prime (but this is the usual story for high alpine skiing on Shasta).
If you haven’t been to Shasta, go. Right now. Or maybe next weekend. Or when you have the chance. But go, you won’t regret it!