Ascent of Mount Shasta on 2012-08-25

Climber: Rich Stephens

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, August 25, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Shasta
    Elevation:14162 ft / 4316 m

Ascent Trip Report

I did this as a solo hike. I wasn’t sure if I should try to do this as a day hike or an overnighter. After talking with the rangers and reading the other trip reports, I decided that it would have been a very long day had I done this as a day hike but really, it wouldn’t be any worse than some of the long 14er day hikes that I have done in the eastern Sierras. I saw some climbers on this trip take up to 12 hours roundtrip and come down completely exhausted.

I found my way to the Clear Creek trailhead. It is located about 13.5 miles total distance from the turnoff off of hwy 89, just outside of McCloud, CA. There is a network of dirt roads throughout this area and I printed a map so that I didn't get lost. The first ~5 miles of Pilgrim Creek Road is paved until you make the turnoff to the left onto Widow Springs Dr. After that, it's all dirt. I have a VW Jetta and I was wondering how much abuse my car would take to get to the TH. Surprisingly, the dirt road is in very good condition and my car did just fine without any issues. I saw other sedans at the TH parking lot as well. The parking lot looked like it held about 15 cars total.

I packed my gear for about 2 hours and made camp at Clear Creek springs at 8500' at the base of the actual mountain. The trail conditions of sandy loose soil mixed with ash is a small introduction of what one will experience on the mountain. At 8500' when I arrived at the small, cold, flowing creek, I passed over the creek and walked about another 100 yds and made camp in the trees. Some of the climbers that I had passed on the trail from the TH kept going up above to camp higher. There are a few flat places to camp at 10K feet and higher. Unless you have major elevation issues, I just couldn’t see the logic to pack my gear up further. I stayed lower and conserved my energy. I set up camp, filtered water from the Clear Creek and relaxed. I made a walking stick to help me ascend the next day and I’m glad that I did. The ash on the mountain isn’t the most stable and I found myself slipping a lot.

I awoke at 0300 and the temp was hovering around 50F inside my tent. I brought my snow pants just in case but did not wear them. I left camp and starting climbing at 0330. I was wearing my leather mountaineering boots and low-cut gaiters, my hiking zip-offs pants, long sleeve shirt, a down vest, and a beanie. I had my Gore-Tex shell, light gloves, and hat in my backpack. Soon after I started, I ditched my vest and was comfortable in my long sleeve shirt for most of the way up. As I progressed up the mountain at about 12,500', the wind was getting stronger and stronger and the gloves relieved my hands from getting numb. Once on top, I broke down and put my jacket on. I'm glad I left my snow pants and balaclava at camp because they would have been extra weight.

The route is pretty much straight up. There is a faint trail in the ash and rock that you follow and part of it actually zig zags in the steeper areas. I didn’t seem to have too much trouble following it despite how dark it was and with only my headlamp. The sun started to rise around 0600 and I made it to the very strange and out of place orange rock. This is a big orange rock that sits right on the route that doesn’t match any other existing rocks in the immediate area and I wondered how it ever got here. From here, I met a couple of guys and talked with them. They had camped up higher the night before and I had caught up to them. They took a break and huddled in the cold wind. We took some pictures and then I continued on upwards.

From the orange rock, the route veers off to the right. I continued to follow the faint trail and then I could see that the route varied. There were chutes up above with extremely loose rock that apparently some climbers have gone up. I avoided that whole mess and went as far to the right as I could; even to the actual Wintun Glacier which was solid ice. With the glacier edge on my right, I went straight up in more stable terrain. I then hit a very rocky area which required some light rock climbing to get up and over and eventually to more suitable ground. The ground then leveled out and I hit a patch of snow that the rangers had indicted. From there, the summit is only a few hundred feet above and I traversed around to the south side of the mountain and found the path to the summit. At the summit, the wind was blowing and I put on my jacket and gloves, signed my name in the register, had a bite to eat, and I was off. After a few minutes of descending, the two climbers that I had met had followed my route coming up. They called me an f’in banchee for summiting so quickly. Instead of going down the same path that I ascended, I descended down through the chutes with loose rock. The rock was fist sized and so loose and deep that I couldn’t see why anyone would ever try to ascend it. Not only that, it was extremely steep. From that point on, I was back to the orange rock and then before I knew it, I was back to basecamp where I packed up and walked back down to my car. What a great trip! My plan was to come back and do this again but this time using a more technical route.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:7453 ft / 2272 m
    Route:Clear Creek
    Trailhead:Clear Creek TH  6709 ft / 2044 m
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:7 Hours 0 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:4 Hours 

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