A grand convergence at Mt Shasta - me from the east, Ben from the south, Jeff from the north, with an invitation extended to the entire Lemurian and Yaktavian alien races from whatever dimension is their regular domicile. Four days of skiing, comprising one daytrip then a three-day/two-night trip outing. Perfect weather, nearly perfect snow conditions in many sections, and essentially unlimited terrain for a merely four-day-long ski trip. Cumulative vertical tally was about 18,500 (cut short a bit on the final day since we had a steep face below our camp that we didn’t want to ski at too late an hour)
Jeff’s pics & TR for the first three days -
Jeff’s pics & TR for the first day -
Jeff’s pics & TR for the middle two days -
Rusty’s pics for the last three days -
My (small collection of) pics for all four days -
Ben’s pics -
Oh, Ben went skiing again the very next weekend (at Mammoth) instead of posting his pictures, lucky guy!
Skinned up Giddy Giddy to the nontechnical & skiable high point on Casaval Ridge. Skied a face into the lower section of Avalanche Gulch, then skinned up past Helen Lake and finally skied back to Bunny Flat. Snow was very nice except for the final runout to the trailhead.
Joined by Ben’s friend Rusty (although apparent no-snow by the invited Lemurians and Yaktavians), skinned up across Giddy Giddy and Anaconda Gulch to set up camp in Hidden Valley, did a yo-yo on a nice little ~400-500' hill above camp, then skinned up to Shasta-Shastina col. Once again, very nice snow. Camp was blazingly sunny & hot, even late in the afternoon at over 9000' elevation. Went to bed before 9:00, by which time the temps had cooled down a bit, though still very bright.
Awoke a bit after 5:00, once the ambient light was sufficient, although well before the sun hit camp. Two very slow-moving guided rope teams were already about halfway up the West Face. Going about twice their speed, we passed them at the top. Switched to skins and kept skis on to within five feet of the summit. Hiked up the five feet with skis in hand hoping a ski descent would be possible, but the 60-degree frozen formations were not to my liking, so had to down hike five feet. Summit cone was various frozen oddness, with the main attraction hopping around the surprised climbers. Then cruised by all the climbers on the flat-ish summit plateau. Skirted around to the left of Misery Hill (trying to figure out the sun) and found very good snow (successful figuring!). Traversed to the top of the West Face and . . . wow! Nearly perfect snow for a couple thousand or so vertical.
Returned to camp quite early, then casually yo-yo’ed that nearby hill again. Was shocked to see skiers still descending from up high at almost 4:00 - significant wet slide risk by then. Was even more shocked to see the guided climbing party finally reaching camp at almost 4:00. (Ben talked with one climber who said a wet slide had partially buried another climber, who had lost an ice axe in the incident. Ben also noticed that one of their “guides” - loosely construed, as their sole compelling credential is a government-granted monopoly, as opposed to actual, say, guide certification - was the same person who had admonished him two days earlier for skiing above Helen Lake on nontechnical terrain in the early afternoon.) Was still more shocked to see another climber finally descend into Hidden Valley around 5:00 . . . and then have to climb up a ~200' steep face to reach his camp (as they had come in somewhat off course the previous evening). Was no longer capable of shock at almost 7:00 when I realized that the rock near the base of the West Face sliding in an odd diagonal direction and the rock impossibly sliding horizontally were actually climbers who were . . . doing . . . ? They then ascended to a fairly high point on Casaval Ridge.
We wanted to leave camp relatively early as our exit entailed a brief traverse on a steep face that could pose wet slide danger later in the day. So skinned up very early to the base of Shastina, which had two remaining long lines. The one to the left was the more enticing, but it was still going to be way too firm at an early hour. The one to the right received sun earlier, and ended up being skiable, although still not quite perfect. Snow below was better. After traversing out from below camp, we played connect-the-patches (Ben definitely one that game, while I led Rusty into numerous dead ends) to reach Horse Camp, then skied out on nearly green snow from pollen for the runout.
The ensuing return to reality was especially harsh. Temps hit 110 in the central valley, and we had to turn off the car’s AC periodically to prevent engine overheating. I started off Monday morning at 6:15 with a three-hour conference call, then ran around San Francisco for a business presentation, business meeting, and assorted business via phone and email. Tuesday morning started off at 5:00 for the flight home, with the ensuing connection delayed three hours. This left me a little over nine hours at home to: partially unpack, sleep, eat, change, repack for possible overnight, assemble materials for a discovery request, and otherwise get ready for the drive to the outskirts of NYC for a deposition . . . which lasted all of Wednesday, then all of Thursday, to be continued onto some other day TBD. The only saving graces were that I was being paid by the hour, I got to stay over with a nearby friend on Thursday night, and I managed to put the following on the court reporter’s transcript:
Attorney: “You keep saying you can’t remember the exact days early last week on which you wrote and transmitted certain parts of your expert opinion report, especially because other events since then have been more memorable - what you have been doing that has been so memorable?”
Me: “Ski mountaineering on Mt Shasta.”
Attorney: “What’s ski mountaineering?”
Me: “It’s when you climb up a mountain and then ski down it.”
Unfortunately he did not explore that line of questioning . . . although he did go into great detail on the Shefftz-Shapiro extended family dispute from three decades ago regarding the defunct Puerto Rican mattress spring company. (Never thought anyone would ever pay me to ramble on about that!)