Spring Break: Hood / Shasta

March 2018

The fellas were at it again this Spring break. John took a hiatus from his big boy job doing government research in quantum computing to join Anthony and I for some mountaineering, Walmart camping, snowboarding, and general tomfoolery. The plan was to drive up through Oregon to attempt a summit of Mt. Hood, and then bomb down to Shasta to hit the infamous Casaval Ridge.

I was hellbent on getting some mountain biking at a legendary trail network in Redding, so I decided to drive separately and lug my bike along for the journey. Oregon was beautiful, the mountains, landscapes, and waterfalls demanded we pull over here and there to take photos and soak in the PNW's glory.

One of our many stops along the way to Hood

After analyzing the daily reports, we found the avalanche danger a bit too high for our liking on Mt. Hood. So we decided to call off the summit attempt. The mountain will always be there, one poor decision means that we might not be. 

So, we drove back South, Oregon taking my breath away the whole drive down. We made decent time down to Shasta, sorted gear in the afternoon, and got some shut eye. The plan was to spend two days to summit via the technically and physically demanding Casaval Ridge. 

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Sorting gear

The mystical Mt. Shasta

The dreaded phone alarms startled us out of bed dark and early at 5:00am. We made decent headway in the first hour or so, but the poor snow conditions slowed us down dramatically as the route steepened. It was too steep for snowshoeing, but so soft that we would post-hole almost every step.

Eventually we turned around and returned to the car and decided to try our next ascent earlier in the morning when the snow would be firmer. We had to wait around at the car for two and a half days for the avalanche danger and poor weather to clear. Finally, we made our second attempt, and made it to the beginning of the ridge proper. At around 5:00am (the darkest part of the day) 80 mile-an-hour winds started whipping us around. We roped up, and proceeded, but the winds intensified, and we were struggling just to kneel down and hear each other without flying off the ridge.

We decided to turn around, and eventually as we descended, the sun rose and the winds tapered. We made it back to the car in one piece, with two-failed attempts of Casaval Ridge weighing heavy on our minds. Pizza and beer were welcomed by our stomachs in town as we discussed our gameplan for the last two days. We decided against a third attempt.

A snack to accompany the sunrise

Heading down...

The dreaded phone alarms startled us out of bed dark and early at 5:00am. We made decent headway in the first hour or so, but the poor snow conditions slowed us down dramatically as the route steepened. It was too steep for snowshoeing, but so soft that we would post-hole almost every step.

Eventually we turned around and returned to the car and decided to try our next ascent earlier in the morning when the snow would be firmer. We had to wait around at the car for two and a half days for the avalanche danger and poor weather to clear. Finally, we made our second attempt, and made it to the beginning of the ridge proper. At around 5:00am (the darkest part of the day) 80 mile-an-hour winds started whipping us around. We roped up, and proceeded, but the winds intensified, and we were struggling just to kneel down and hear each other without flying off the ridge.

We decided to turn around, and eventually as we descended, the sun rose and the winds tapered. We made it back to the car in one piece, with two-failed attempts of Casaval Ridge weighing heavy on our minds. Pizza and beer were welcomed by our stomachs in town as we discussed our gameplan for the last two days. I decided to hit Redding for two days of shredding, while John and Anthony figured out how they would get to an Avalanche Training course in Tahoe. John drove and Anthony hitchhiked as to maintain "continuity of the trip." 

Redding was sick, but eventually we were all beckoned back to Berkeley by school, work, and other city-folk obligations.