Skiing during the offseason?

A frosty Mount Shasta in October

A major bonus of living so close to the Cascade Volcanoes is the fact that they hold snow late into the summer and get new snow fairly early in the autumn as well. This lets me ski year round and I tried to take advantage of this over the past few months.

Jason and Nick hiking around Emerald Lake

My “offseason” started in June with a solo mission up the East face of Lassen Peak. I climbed to about 8500′ where I turned around to ski before the morning sun turned the snowpack into mush.

East face of Lassen Peak in June

In late July and early August I made it back up to Lassen National Park to ski a couple more times. In the summer Lassen National Park offers amazing pass skiing, but unfortunately the always “adept” National Park Service decided to close Lassen Peak to skiing and climbing for the next 5 years or so. There are still plenty of good, albeit short, lines off some of the craggy subpeaks, which offers some summer fun.

Brokeoff Mountain

Lassen Peak

Pilot Peak and Brokeoff Mountain

After a September spent traveling to Colorado, New Hampshire, and Montana, I returned to Mount Shasta in October to get some turns in after the first snow of the year. It has become a bit of a ritual for me to get out skiing after the first snowfall of the year, and this year was no exception. Instead of heading to the Hotlum-Wintun Ridge like we did in August, we headed up the closer and more popular Avalanche Gulch.

Lenticular clouds forming over the summit.

This was my first trip up Avalanche Gulch proper. I had dabbled on its lower flanks in February and March, but this time we made it to Lake Helen and had a great 1500′ ski.

The Casaval Ridge, this looks like it would be a fun but difficult climbing route

Jason gaining elevation

Jason topping out for the day

As always Mount Shasta’s scale was deceiving. I had expected to ski a a somewhat narrow gulley of rotten snow, but it turned out to be a football field wide, creamy, ramp. We had about 1000 feet of really good skiing, then we had to dodge rocks at the lower, less, snow covered elevations.

Mighty fine skiing in October

The new ski season is drawing more and more close and I cannot wait for the next storm!


Welcome to Weekend Warriordom

Mt. Shasta (14,179 feet), the second tallest Cascade Volcano... now in my backyard!

February was one wild month… I don’t think I have ever had anything so intense and difficult to plan. I was unemployed from right before Thanksgiving thru January and throughout that time I sent out nearly 100 job applications. For most of December and the first part of January I was living the ski bum’s dream. No job, a free ski pass, and a steady stream of Ramen noodles let me ski to my hearts content… until rent was due. Then I couldn’t afford gas to get to the ski area, I needed a job… and fast. I started looking in the Denver area and quickly got a job at The Wilderness Exchange and not two hours after accepting that position I got a call from California. A real job, performing work I spent seven years at school for, I couldn’t pass it up. I called The Wilderness Exchange, had a week to move out and drive three days in a moving truck to Northern California.

My new place of residency is Redding, CA, tucked in at the very northern end of the Central Valley. This town is much bigger than anywhere I have ever lived and I’m adjusting. Luckily there are plenty of recreational opportunities here, fly fishing, hiking, and mountain biking are all within 20 minutes of town. There are also some epic backcountry ski zones within 2 hrs including two Cascade Volcanos.

This weekend I finally got out and skied the epic backcountry skiing on nearby Mount Shasta (14, 179).

The Trinity Alps, my new hometown is nestled at the foothills of these mountains.

Mount Shasta in the mist

On Saturday and Sunday (My new job is a good ol’ 9 to 5’er) I skinned up what is locally known as Green Butte, to get oriented and check the options out. On Saturday the weather was beautiful just until I hit treeline. Then Mt. Shasta’s quickly changing weather put me into a thick fog and I had to ski blindly down to treeline where I spent the rest of the day playing on a natural log jib I found.

Some of the potential skiing terrain on the flanks of Mt. Shasta.

The Trinity Alps in the distance

Sunday’s weather was bluebird and nice out, it was a little breezy and wind loading kept me below treeline. The nice weather however, let me check out the mountaineering potential of the mountain. There are certainly some stout lines to ski that are European in scale. I’m definitely stoked to ski on the upper mountain.

Looking up Avalanche Gulch, it is difficult to grasp the scale of this mountain but I am 5000' feet below the summit.

Touring around the base of Mt. Shasta

Mt. Shasta from the Bunny Flat parking lot.