On June 20, we hike to Hidden valley campground. We leave the Bunny Flat parking lot (6,800') at 9 AM and climb 2 miles to the Horse Camp (7,800') cabin. Behind the hut, we find the sign showing the way to Hidden Valley and turn left (note that this sign may be buried under snow early in the season. If you miss this turn, the trail will take you to the Avalanche Gulch route).
Beyond this the left turn, we continue for 1.5 miles, traversing the West side of the mountain until we reach Hidden Valley (9,200'). The "trail" to the Valley is cross-country and can be hard to follow in spots. We cross some loose talus and traverse several 20-40 degrees snow fields. The snow is pretty firm - we do not sink too much and we do not need to use our crampons either.
We reach the Valley just before noon. It's only late June and most of the Valley is still under snow. We set up camp on rock outcrops, just before the slope starts steepening towards the base of the West face. We lounge in the sun most of the afternoon and hit the sack early.
We get up at 1:30 AM the next morning. By the time we've managed to force down some breakfast and get ready to leave camp, it is 3 AM. We follow the gentle slope to the upper section of the Valley (~10,000'). From there, the angle steepens to 40-45 degrees for about 300 feet. At the top of the chute, the gully turns slightly to the right and continues straight up the face. The slope lessens to 30-35 degrees until we reach the red outcrops of Fang Rock (~12,500'). The snow is nice and firm, providing for easy cramponing.
Another 800 feet and we reach the saddle on the top of the face at ~13,300'. We take a long and well deserved break there before continuing to the summit! From the top of the face, we have nice views of the upper section of Whitney Glacier, Misery Hill and the summit.
We then continue climbing the ridge on the right side, and cross Whitney Glacier (no crevasses) to get to the bottom of Misery Hill, loosing about 200 feet of elevation in the process. We find Misery hill free of snow and go straight up on scree.
We then follow the summit plateau to the summit, which we reach at about 9 AM.
The summit is crowded with people (who came up the regular route), many of them on cell phones (which we cannot stand, particularly in the mountains), so we don't feel like staying very long. We reverse the route to the top of the West face where we glissade back down to camp. After a quick lunch, we pack and hike back down to the car.
A fun two day outing. You could probably climb the West Face in a long day (~7,300 ft of elevation gain) from the car but the beautiful camping at Hidden Valley is really what makes this route special. Following the trail cross-country between the horse Camp and Hidden Valley may not be easy in the dark though, so try to leave camp early on the way down
Note that summit passes are required for anyone climbing above 10,000 feet. A pass costs $15 (!) per person, and is good for three days starting on the date of purchase. Self-issue kiosks are available at the Mt. Shasta Ranger Station on Alma St. in Mt. Shasta city, the McCloud Ranger Station on Hwy 89 in McCloud and at all trailheads. Annual summit passes are $25.00 and are good for one year from the date of purchase. Annual passes are available only during regular business hours at the Mt Shasta and Mc Cloud Ranger Stations.
Mount Shasta, CA
|Our quiet camp by the river.|
|Postcard view of Mt Shasta.|
|Close-up view of the mountain.|
|We started from the Bunny Flat trailhead.|
|Hiking up toward the Horse Camp cabin.|
|The Horse Camp cabin.|
|Signing the register in the Horse Camp cabin.|
|A plaque indicates the way to...|
|...where we set up camp.|
|The West Face route follows the obvious gully in the center for 4,000 unrelenting feet.|
|Eric on cooking duty.|
|Views from camp at sunset.|
|Sunset on Casaval Ridge.|
|Sunset on the West Face.|
|Taking a break the next morning on a comfy bivy platform, about halfway up the face.|
|Looking back toward Casaval Ridge at sunrise.|
|...and up, with the red outcrops of Fang Rock in the background.|
|Reaching the saddle at the top of the West Face.|
|Crossing the Whitney glacier.|
|Looking back at the crater.|
|Misery Hill, the loooong scree slope leading to the summit plateau.|
|The scree slopes just below the summit.|
|Typical cell phone crowd on the summit (damned cell phones!)|
|We're on the summit...wee!!|
|View from the summit.|
|Another summit shot.|
|Climber descending the scree slopes just below the summit.|
|Back at the top of the West Face - just before the long glissade back to camp.|
|Hiking back down to the trailhead.|
|Looking back at Mt Shasta from the Bunny Flat trailhead.|