Sunny California Skiing:
Shasta, Lassen, and the North Face of Shastina

19-21 June 2009

Mt Shasta and Shastina from the north. The Hotlum-Wintun route essentially follows the eastern (left) horizon. Mouseover to see our the line we skied on the North Face of Shastina and climb of the Whitney Glacier to return to Hidden Valley.

My sister Ariel graduated high school. On account of this occasion, I went to see her and my dad. My graduation gift to her was to go have drinks with some long-lost friends in Portland, instead of sitting through the ceremony. But I really am proud of you, Ariel!

It was also great to see Duncan and Lauren McF, my honorary brother and sister from high school. We had delicious margaritas on the 13th floor of a building downtown. I also had the pleasure to see Cerissa's editorial masterpiece. Lauren later made some killer burgers after showing me how to assess a cantaloupe's ripeness by sniffing its butt.

ready to ski lassen Sky, ready to drop on Lassen

shasTINA ShasTNA

north side of shastina Sky skis from the summit of Shastina toward the north side.

carving shastina North Face of ShasTnA, dropping

shasta goodness Sweetness

ski turn More turns

skiing on the largest glacier in california Heading over the saddle above Whitney Glacier

ski mt lassen Lassen turns

mt lassen skiing More Lassen turns

amar shastina crater Amar on our ShasTnA crater rim job hike

amar skis shasTINA Amar c-c-carves

skiing above the clouds Skiing above the clouds is always cool.

A promising forecast for the North Cascades and Coast Mountains deteriorated while I was visiting friends and family. I was livid. I had salvaged the first week of my vacations by voyaging to the Canadian Rockies. Now what? Amar had the brilliant idea to go ski Mt Shasta. I had never skied it and could have cared less in normal circumstances, but I wanted fun skiing and good weather for my vacation. The time had finally come for me to ski the vaunted "best ski mountaineering peak on the planet." (Feel free to insert your own superlative declaration of Shasta's perfection if you don't like this one; there seem to be plenty in circulation.)

Our departure from Portland was delayed on account of car complications and a compelling trip report that Amar just had to finish before leaving Seattle. The initial goal was Shasta the next day, but by the time we reached southern Oregon it was quite late. We sensibly modified our plans to ski McLoughlin. I wanted a good night's sleep.

The forecast had deteriorated even for Shasta by the time we got to California. We proceeded to the Brewer Creek trailhead anyway. The weather did not look promising in the morning. But an attempt was necessary.

Despite snow showers and periodic whiteouts, we had a marvelous day on Shasta. The skiing was fantastic. Then we drove south to Lassen. We had pizza with free wireless internet in Burney. There was a special on a large pepperoni pizza and the price was impossibly low compared to everything else on the menu. It seemed that everyone there was getting pepperoni pizzas.

We drove to the lookout on Burney Mountain, which was pretty cool. There was a lot of lava.

The access on Lassen is superb. We hiked to the top, skied the north side, climbed to the top again, and skied the south side.

We took a detour to visit the Sierra Nevada brewpub in Chico. That place is ridiculously nice. They're clearly minting money at a high rate. I need to start brewing beer instead of doing physics experiments.

Finally, with another poor forecast and weather that seemed unlikely to yield success, we made an attempt on Shastina's North Face. All signs seemed to point toward failure when Amar began by forgetting his skins. And the clouds were not lifting. But finally, just when we reached Hidden Valley, it appeared that we might top the cloud deck.

The North Face of Shastina, like many other lines on Shasta, provides a long, perfect pitch. It's fine skiing.

We were elated to have had such good skiing after the uncertainty and clouds of the morning. It was easy to navigate onto and up the Whitney Glacier, which is the largest glacier in California. Then we skied down Hidden Valley.

Then I had to return to work. Life can be so cruel.

If you've read this far: what about the scenery? I claim that the scenery on the massive volcanos is just nowhere near as good as the scenery on more classical alpine mountains that are surrounded by equal peers. Amar says he prefers the feeling of being above everything. Sure, aesthetics are subjective. But they're not that subjective. You're wrong, Amar, dead wrong!!!

At any rate, vacation salvaged. Exercise and good turns were had.

Quotes from South Park, Season 6, Episode 12:

  • I've never heard candy and only in the same sentence before.
  • Maybe heaven is just an idea: a frame of mind or something....
  • We should stop waiting to get into heaven and start trying to create it.