Mt. Shasta

Day 116

With a not so bright and early wake up call of 3am, we rose to summit Mt. Shasta -- a summit where many people die each year due to the conditions. Shasta is a volcano. I swear a felt rumbling in the ground last night, but I'm sure it was just me being fearful.

After our wake up call and early morning breakfast, we set out with our headlamps in full glow. The first few miles were simple and easy, but dark. With the sun starting to rise, Shasta was visible in all it's glory. We were excited for the start of it, and trucked on. As soon as we got to the base of the climb, we were welcomed with volcanic scree; tiny black rocks that accounted for nearly all of the face of the mountain. What's this mean for us? Hell. Two steps up, one step back. The scree would roll us down the mountain, and made for rough conditions.

When we took our first break a few miles in, we met two folks who went up a bit and turned around because they didn't have crampons: we didn't either. "oh we are thru-hikers... Invincible we are!" we thought to ourselves going up the mountain.

As the sun rose, the clouds rolled in. Dark stormy clouds. Clouds with high winds, and a scary look to them. Half hour after the clouds rolled in, the rain started. 0% chance of rain was on the forecast or today! Bollocks I say. The four of us posted up behind a rock, snuggled close together out of the wind to try and wait out the storm. Jarrett called his pops to see if he could check the Doppler (yes there is service on a 14,000 foot mountain) and the verdict wasn't good -- a giant green spot for miles around the mountain.

Regardless, we decided to wait a little longer to see if it would clear. It did. We pushed on, and were excited at the second chance to summit the beast. With turn around time (the time in which you need to turn around to make it back into camp before dark) was rapidly approaching. After a few hours, and a few thousand veritical feet later, and our stomachs dropped. The peak was in sight! Just over a ridge about a quarter mile away. A ridge covered in snow and ice, about 100 meters wide with a straight drop down. At 13,000 feet, we had to make a decision. Try to push forward in the remaining hour we have, up another 1,000 feet and over a 100 meter ice traverse with no crampons that was just dusted with a slippery coat of rain, or turn around, failing to summit.

With about ten minutes of deliberation, we decided it was unsafe to move forward, especially with time rapidly running out. We turned around. Our first unsuccessful ascent.

After a few quiet hours of descending, we made it back to camp. 6,000 feet of vertical climbing up, and no summit. After 12,000 feet of vertical change and exhausted we plopped down at the trailhead with cantalopes and ate our sadness away.

-- Ian