Monday, October 18, 2010

July 17, 2010 - Shasta City and Mt. Shasta's northeast side

Mt. Shasta in the distance. Avalanche Gulch is the huge
bowl on the right side of the mountain
Watch for links to video below, and click on the pics for larger versions!

Mt. Shasta has been on my radar for some time, now. At 14,178 feet, it's a breathtaking and imposing monolith that towers over the tiny towns of Mt. Shasta City and Weed, and now that I have the foundation mountaineering skills and some background from my time in Alaska, the time has finally come to climb it.

(Weed itself is a place that holds many memories for me, too. My band Trip Device recorded part of our album titled "Inside I Feel" at Radiostar Studios (in Weed) with multi-platinum Grammy-winning producer Sylvia Massy at the helm... cool days.)

Me... on the long drive.
 Anyway, having just returned in May from 10 days of mountaineering skills training, I felt confident I could tackle something on Shasta that was a little more challenging than the standard south side Avalanche Gulch route. As beautiful and challenging as Avy Gulch certainly is, I was looking for something on the mountain with a little more oomph.

So I did a little poking around on the internet to evaluate the skills required for a number of routes, talked to the people at Shasta Mountain Guides, and ultimately booked a 3-day guided northside climb up the Hotlum Bolam ridge: the ridge that divides the Hotlum and Bolam glaciers. It seemed to me a perfect route to continue pushing my skills as a climber: it's glaciated, has lots of sustained vertical, and has variations with access to steeper terrain.

I wasn't quite as maniacal in my training for Shasta as I was in preparation for Alaska. The fact that I'm already in excellent climbing shape, and that my expected pack weight on Shasta is considerably less--more like 35-45 lbs for a 3-day trip--meant I could spend most of my energy on training for altitude more than strength and endurance.
From left: Sylvia Massy, Rich
Veltrop and me @ Radiostar
Studios in Weed--RAWK!

But train across the board I did anyway, complete with pack and gear, and at last (as is always the case if one waits long enough haha), the day came.

I drove out of San Jose on Thursday morning, embarking on the 5.5 hour drive through beautiful stretches of northern California to give myself time to pay a visit to Sylvia and Rich at Radiostar. I arrived in Shasta City with plenty of daylight left, and because the whole town is mostly clustered around the main drag, I had no difficulty finding my hotel for the night.

I gave Sylvia a call, and headed over to Radiostar. When I arrived, there were what seemed like swarms of 8-10 year old kids milling around (and their parents). Turns out those kids were in a metal band that Sylvia was working with, and they're apparently awesome haha The kids certainly had quite a lot of energy (and a few mullets and Metallica t-shirts), so I can only imagine what the music was like. Cool to see haha

After a cool chillout and (OMG, the cappuccino!!!) chat with Sylvia and our brilliant engineer Rich (and a guy named Fernando who's interning at Radiostar and, it turns out, went to HS with Steve, my drummer in Fremont, CA haha weird), I headed back to the hotel to get some rest for the coming days. I found a bite to eat, and then stopped in at the Veteran's Club (the obigatory drinking stop on Shasta Blvd), but found it mostly devoid of people, so I decided to hit the hay.

Tomorrow begins the climb of my first 14er.

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