Mount Shasta Summit Snowboarding

With much joy, I have eventually summitted Mount Shasta, completing my quest to summit the five highest peaks (Mount Rainier, Mount Shasta, Mount Adams, Mount Hood, Mount Baker) of the Cascade Volcanoes! Adding to the excitement, this marked my second successful one-day push to the summit of a 14er. My previous endeavor, also in the golden state of California, led me to the awe-inspiring heights of Mount Whitney.

For quite some time, Mount Shasta had been a prominent marker on my travel map. However, its remote location and inconvenience of transportation kept this mesmerizing destination at bay. Fortunately, a recent road trip with friends transformed the 9-hour drive from Seattle to Mount Shasta into a delightful and memorable adventure. In retrospect, I discovered that Medford, a convenient connecting point for fligths, could have been an excellent alternative - offering typically $200 round trip fares if booked well in advance. But predicting the weather is always a gamble, and our journey presented the added bonus of a leisurely lunch and shopping break in Oregon. Looking back, the drive was much fun.

Mother’s Day weekend drew crowds to the mountain, with cars overflowing the parking lot and lining the road for hundreds of yards. We reached our destination around 10PM, stealing a brief nap before embarking on our journey from the trailhead before 3AM. The moon had yet to grace, leaving the stars to illuminate. With the dazzling cosmos overhead, we set our sights on the Avalanche Gulch route and began our ascent.

This ascent proved to be a unique experience. Within a short time, we had left the tree line behind, revealing the entire mountain before us. Shrouded in darkness and devoid of moonlight, the mountain’s imposing silhouette served as a mysterious backdrop to our route. We spotted several glimmers of headlamps ahead, which soon vanished into the sky, indistinguishable from the distant stars.

As we pressed on, we could feel the once-melted snow had refrozen beneath our feet, creating a layer of ice that made the ascent challenging without crampons. At around 4 AM, the moon finally emerged, swiftly illuminating our surroundings. With two more hours of steadfast effort, the sun eventually crept over the cliffs. The powerful solar radiation rapidly melted the frozen world around us, transforming our surroundings into a glistening wonderland.

Reaching the summit of Mount Shasta was relatively less formidable when comparing with the other vocalnoes. The true challenge did not lie in overcoming any treacherous terrains but more in adapting to combat the significant elevation gain during a one-day push. There was no obvious crater shape at the top of the mountain, but the sulphur springs still reminded you the latent power that dwells within this colossal mountain.

Descent, however, presented a wholly different story – one that could only be aptly described as a struggle. As the snow melted, it became wet and sticky, making the entire 7000ft elevation drop soggy and clingy.

Riding through the red bank was a spectable. The hues and formations of the rocks were a sight to behold, a rarity not found amongst the peaks in PNW. Skiers obviously had a much rougher time than us snowboarders due to the snow condition. But eventually everyone returned safe and sound.

Attached a summiting route for reference, along with some pictures of myself. And one thing to add was that I inadvertently left the camera’s format set to JPEG instead of RAW, causing trouble denoising the pictures, especially those shot during the night.

Ruby Mountain Backcountry Snowboarding

TL;DR by ChatGPT: We hiked up Ruby Mountain with mixed snow conditions, encountering icy sections and limited snow cover. Despite the challenging terrain, the view was spectacular. We look forward to returning for better snow and exploring more backcountry options in the North Cascades.

We went to Ruby Mountain just before the opening of State Route 20 on April 15, 2023. There had been snow accumulation three days prior, but it was followed by two hot days that caused the fresh powder to melt. Overall, the experience of riding down was not as good as expected, as most of the best snow remained only in the upper 500 feet. The rest of the snow was covered with a thick shell with hard-packed icy snow below. As the temperature rose, the snow became extremely sticky, making it very difficult to turn on those untouched areas. The approach was also relatively long, with an elevation gain of roughly 1000 to 1500 feet and no consecutive snow to skin upon. Additionally, the route below the Ruby Mountain plateau was challenging to hike up due to dense trees and bushes.

Nevertheless, the view while hiking up was incredibly gorgeous. The presence of Ross Lake and the Hozomeen Mountain in the background created a distinctive picture for this trip. I could definitely imagine how much more worthwhile it would have been with the best snow conditions. Furthermore, this was the first trip where I brought my Canon R5 with me.

We parked at the Ross Dam Trailhead, crossed the closed gate, and walked to the Happy Creek Trailhead. The parking lot was one-third full since we arrived early and the weather report indicated partial cloudiness with light snow in the afternoon. The morning sun shone on Colonial Peak as we set out around 6:30 AM.

Hiking up through the designated trail was easy. However, once the trail ended, we had to traverse the ridge on foot since the snow coverage inside the forest was thin, and there were numerous logs strewn across the ground.

Once we reached higher elevation, the breathtaking view began to unfold. We were able to transition into touring mode at around 3000 feet of elevation. However, it remained challenging to locate existing tracks within the dense forest, and the route became steeper.

Ruby Mountain came into view as we hiked up to the first flat and wide area. From there, we had a panoramic view of Happy Creek and the summit of Ruby Mountain. Initially, we hadn’t realized that our descent would take us directly through the Happy Creek gully. We decided to climb up the ridge, following a track on the left side and reentering the dense forest. However, in hindsight, this turned out to be a less optimal choice. We noticed groups of people climbing directly towards the steep face on the right side of the creek, which appeared to be a more direct and easier route compared to battling through the trees and bushes.

Upon climbing up the ridge once again, the full grandeur of Ruby Mountain and the prime riding terrain came into view. There were sparse trees and interconnected slopes leading up to the summit. This section proved to be the most enjoyable, as the slope wasn’t steep, and the view was truly rewarding. However, as predicted by the weather report, clouds began to roll in, accompanied by stronger winds. With the entire area now visible, we realized that Ruby Mountain was actually quite crowded, with numerous groups present. Roughly 30 or more people were summiting Ruby Mountain.

The route for riding down mostly followed the track we took while hiking up, except for the section where we went straight towards the Happy Creek gully. The snow conditions would have been significantly better if we had come right after a fresh snowfall. Additionally, if we had arrived earlier in the season, the approach could have been much shorter. The entire car-to-car trip covered approximately 10 miles in total, with an elevation gain of almost 6000 feet - undoubtedly a workout day!

The North Cascades area offers an abundance of backcountry choices. Hopefully, one day I will have the opportunity to return to this route and experience the incredibly rewarding snow it has to offer.

Append some pictures with me inside. Kudos to my friends!