Mt. Shasta is supposed to be one of the best places for late-season
skiing in the country. That sounds like something that has to be
verified in person.

Mt. Shasta (summit 14,162 ft) from Bunny Flats (~7000 ft).

Marc and I ready to start hiking at 5pm. We planned to leave earlier, but
things happened.

Marc in a vast field of white.

Marc hikinig up as the sun sets and the clouds settle in.

Around 8pm or so, we found a place to camp (i.e. we were too tired to
continue, so we camped where we were). After boiling some snow and cooking
some dinner, we settled down to sleep around 10pm.

At 3am the next morning, I got up and put the crampons on. It was
completely dark and calm where we camped (just below Helen Lake). I hiked
up to meet Brett and Hareem, who had camped at Helen Lake with the rest of
the crowd.

Just below the lake, the winds picked up, and at the lake it was pretty
fierce. Brett woke up at 4am just as I arrived, and by 5am or so we were
on our way up.

Looking down on Helen Lake and the tents. I went to about 12,000 ft before
the altitude (and lack of water, food, and sleep) caught up with me. Brett
went all the way to the summit.

Looking up toward the Red Banks from our campsite, just below Helen Lake.
I snowboarded down from Helen Lake around noon and the conditions were
pretty bad -- icy patches and powdery patches, and inconsistent.

The view from camp to the east. You can see Lassen on the horizon -- the
other pimple-like mountain in the region.

The view down to Bunny Flats. After relaxing in the sun for a couple hours
the snow softened up really nice and it was time to head down. Strapping
all the gear to my pack wasn't easy. On the climb up, I used my snowboard
to hold stuff, but now I just had a pack. As I rode down, I had crampons,
alpine boots, a shovel, an ice axe, and my sleeping bag all dangling from
my pack. With all the extra weight I could really dig in on the turns.

Back at last. Less than 24 hours after we left, although it felt like so
much longer. Coming down was interesting. It seemed like everyone was
just heading up for the weekend as I rode down, so I had a stream of people
to weave through on my ride down. They all looked like they wished they
could be doing what I was doing instead of doing the long, painful hike up.

When we started the hike, we found a spot right at the trailhead. Now, the
crowds were out in force, with parking wherever you could find it.

We attempted to look for a trail on the east side of Shasta that led to a
nice waterfall. The road turned to dirt, and then the dirt road became
partially covered with snow. Having rented a mini-SUV (upgraded from full
size after a long wait in line at 2am), I decided to test its abilities to
do what SUVs are advertised as being able to do. We made it through a
couple patches of snow, but this one just didn't happen. I got up some
speed, hit the snow, and came to a sudden stop, as we bottomed out with
tires spinning.

Now what? We read about the 4WD capabilities, including some "intelligent"
4WD mechanism that engaged as needed. With the right tires on the ground
and the left ones spinning, the "intelligent" thing to do would seem to be
to give power to the right side, but the Ford Escape did just the opposite.

Since the Ford Escape's "Intelligent 4WD" wasn't intelligent enough to
escape from the snow, we resorted to shoveling out some snow, jacking up
the front left tire, and putting rocks under it for traction.

We shoveled out some more snow and did the same for the back tire.

I floored it and....NOTHING. The mini-SUV didn't even budge. Apparently
it just didn't have the power to move it's own weight off of the snow.

Just as we were losing hope, five (count them, FIVE) Jeeps pulled up the
road. The first guy took out his winch, hooked it to the SUV's underside,
and pulled us out.

The Jeep guys were very happy to help out and put their Jeeps to the test.

No more stuck Ford Escape.

To demonstrate how a *real* off-road vehicle deals with snow, the Jeeps all
drove right through the snow where we got stuck.
(AVI, MPEG movie)

We hiked on the road, but never found the trailhead to the waterfall.

We did get a nice view of Shasta through the trees, though.

More Pictures