Mt. Shasta, CA Conditions Report: Brewer Creek on June 13th, 2016

Guest Author | BackcountryBackcountry | Conditions ReportConditions Report
Shasta- East Side
Shasta- East Side

This past Monday, I had plans to travel North from Tahoe and so inevitably had to make a pit stop at 14,162-foot Mt. Shasta. I heard word that the Brewer Creek Trailhead was pretty much clear, so I headed that way.

The Brewer Creek trailhead is quite more remote than Bunny Flat. Its about an hour drive from McCloud, and a high clearance vehicle is a MUST! But the East side is the magical side, and it is well worth the drive.

There are still a few snowbanks on the road, but you can get to within less than a mile of the trailhead. I got an alpine start (2:30 AM) and was skinning within 20 minutes of the car. I only saw 2 other parties on the East side that day. I chose the Winton/Hotlum route, which ascends a permanent snowfield between the Wintun and Hotlum glaciers, also called the Hotoon Snowfield.

PRAXISWeather was looking great, as the sun came up at 5:30, right on queue. Climbing conditions were prime early, and I was able to skin to over 11,000 feet sans ski-crampons.

Traverse across Wintun Glacier

Just as I was putting on crampons to ascend the steep stuff, I spotted a cloud. Next thing I knew, it was building and I knew I had to think about descending. It was not going to be a summit day.

MOUNTAINEERING TIP: If you are climbing and you see weather building, TURN AROUND! This is especially true if you are unfamiliar with the route. Many people die in the mountains every year.

Clouds arrive
Clouds arrive

I put on my skis at the top of Ship Rock and descended just before 11:00. The first 2000′ of descent were absolute bliss. I chuckled as I passed a group of skiers who had left their skis on the traverse and were glissading back down to their skis. Although I turned around 1000′ shy of the summit, I still got a 6000′ descent.

Skiing Conditions
Skiing Conditions

As soon as I hit the cloud line, I got a bit disoriented. There are quite a few different routes down, and one MUST pay attention to where he/she had parked in the morning. Especially when ascending in the dark. It is way too easy to take the gully down past the trailhead.

Sun Cups below 9000'
Sun Cups below 9000′

It is vital to hit this route before the sun cups form. As of June 13th, they were really only around the tree line. But they can form along the majority of the route. There is a narrow window, even in a good snow year, where you can reach the trailhead and have a smooth descent without bumps. But when it’s good, it is good!

Sun rise
East Side Sunrise

4-8″ of snow are forecast today and tomorrow on Shasta! Get up there while it’s prime time!

4-8" of snow forecast for Mt. Shasta, CA today and tomorrow. image: noaa, today
4-8″ of snow forecast for Mt. Shasta, CA today and tomorrow. image: noaa, today


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