J. Muir: "When I first caught sight of [Shasta] over the braided folds of the Sacramento Valley, I was fifty miles away and afoot, alone and weary. Yet all my blood turned to wine, and I have not been weary since."
Mount Shasta dwarfs the rolling hills below, rising up out of nowhere, towering 10,000 feet above it's surroundings. At 14,179 feet, Shasta provides numerous routes ranging from the relatively simple Avalanche Gulch to technical, glaciated terrain on Whitney Glacier to challenging mixed routes like Cassoval Ridge. Although isolated, Mount Shasta is actually the second tallest peak in the Cascade Range, just 232ft shorter than Mt. Rainier.
Shasta is a great place to get started with Alpine Climbing. The routes are well traveled (read "crowded") and route-finding on the easier routes is relatively straightforward, even in less than ideal conditions.
The Sierra Club currently (and for the past 100 or so years) maintains a hut at Horse Camp near the main southern entrance point of Bunny Flat Trailhead. A caretaker is on site on the weekends and can help give you some advice, teach you jokes, and give you some background on the various legends of the mountain (these are very funny, definitely ask about the "portals"). This camp also has composting toilets, running water, and a fire pit. Most people heading up the South Face will use either this or Lake Helen (Helen Lake?) as base camp for the ascent.
Shasta is a major destination for both day-hikers, backpackers, and mountaineers, so expect it to be busy, particularly at or around the trailheads, and at or around the climbing season (May/June). It thins out as you get higher up, but expect company on the summit unless you bag it by about 9AM.
Shasta sits right on I-5 in northern California, roughly 5 hours drive from downtown San Francisco, and a little over 6 hours south of Portland.
Once you exit I5 in the town of Shasta, the easiest way to get to the mountain is to drive on the main road until you hit the Fifth Season, a local gear shop were you can pick up anything you forgot. Take the road behind the Fifth up towards the mountain, this will pass by a high-school and you just keep heading up this road all the way to the Bunny Flat trailhead.
From BF, it is about an hour walk to Horse Camp (see above for description). From there, the South and West Face routes start.
I haven't done the approaches for the other routes, so I will do a little research and update this.
From Northgate Park follow the trail south to the base of the ridge. Continue up the ridge, easier in early season, to the top of the ridge at 12,000ft. Follow the path of least resistance, typically to the climber's right (west) to the plateau and work back left (east) to the summit. Take note of the large crevasse that forms on the Hotlum Glacier. Work well to the west of it on the descent....[more]Browse More Classics in CA