Mt. Shasta Summit!

9 08 2008

I chose the “slow and steady” version with the Shasta Mountain Guides, and as it was, I realized that I was just barely in training enough to make it! One never knows what is required of one, until one attempts things, though. When I climbed the mountain, there were NO caches at the top OR even on the way! At least, there are will soon be TWO Earthcaches at and near the summit, graciously posted by bthomas and f0t0m0m using information I collected! (Yes, I’ll be able to log finds as a beta tester!)

The epic trek began with an equipment check at The 5th Season sporting goods store in Mt. Shasta City. After we had all of our gear together, we drove up to the trail head. This was an adventure in itself! There were some slightly sandy spots and one larger, sandy hill to get up to the parking lot, but my Prius barely made it. As it turned out, it did presage things to come….

The Trailhead:

The first day’s hike (of FOUR) was about four or so miles with 2000 feet of elevation gain to our first camp, near a spring:

My tent is on the left there, and here’s the view of the spring from within said tent:

This is looking up at the summit from our first base camp:

Yep, that moonscape is the mountain terrain, and from there it was pretty much all snowless, rocky, sandy, slidy, scree to the top! The second day was only about 2 miles of hiking, but up another 2000 feet, where we camped at about 10,500 feet and did a little crampon/ice axe training on a nearby snowfield.

Here’s the view from my tent from there:

It was very smoky from the many forest fires in the state, so the view never got any clearer for this trip. It still looked like a loooong way to the top, too:

The third day was Summit Day, and it took me 9 hours to get there from the second base camp, over 5 miles of struggling up scree and talus with almost 4000 feet of vertical gain. Words like “strenuous” and “exhausting” just don’t cover the extreme effort and stamina it took to get there, and I was BARELY in shape enough to do it!

After all the scree scrambling, a couple of snow fields, and some boulder climbing, here I am at the summit!

This is how I really felt:

I didn’t have any vista or scenery to “distract” me from the task at hand, since it was so smoky:

That also shows where the summit sulphur hot springs are, but we couldn’t see or smell much of them today, as it was pretty windy up there. This is Whitney glacier, up near the summit:

This is the summit log, the “Holy Grail” for the day:

After hanging out for about a half an hour, it was time to head back down…. which was sort of easier, but it still took me 5 hours to get back to my tent, where I collapsed. The descent involved plenty of sliding down what I’d just slid up, and it was just as fatiguing. The next day, we packed it all up and hiked the 6 miles or so back to the cars!

Here are the other folks on the slow and steady tour: Angelika and Michael (from Heidelberg, Germany) and our marvelous guide, Nick, without who’s encouragement and shepherding, I would NOT have made it!

I survived the adventure with just a couple of swollen toes… whew! This was a true peak experience… all puns and senses of the word intended! What’s next? Hm… Stay tuned for more geocaching adventures!

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