This past weekend I had the fortune of remembering why the Mt. Shasta area is arguably one of the highest quality spring skiing centers known to skiers and riders. With a solid crew of splitboarders, our group set out for two memorable days shredding some of the best snow one can ask for in the month of May.
We started with a late afternoon cruise north from Tahoe, and caught a nice evening glow in the Lassen area with Mt. Shasta showcasing its prominence seen in the above photo. We pulled into the Bunny Flat trailhead parking area, which gives great access to Shastina, the west and south aspects of Mt. Shasta, and after some gear sorting were quickly asleep in preparation for our 4 a.m. start.
It’s never all that easy to get going after a long drive and a few hours of sleep, but as we slowly ascended Shastina it was clear we were in for a treat. This shot may not look all that interesting at first glance, but upon closer inspection it shows the transition that’s prone to happening in this area when a completely frozen mountain slowly grows a fresh layer of perfect corn snow.
Our objective for day one was to check out the north side of Shastina, and then either head up to a south or west aspect on Shasta, or ride the south side of Shastina back to the car. Here Seth and Allison start booting up the north crater rim of Shastina.
After scoping our descent as best as we could no one really expected the utter brilliance we were about to receive for a few thousand vertical feet-the elusive and often tough to nail porn descent. The north aspect we skied was consistent all the way to the Whitney Glacier comprised of that beautiful blend of not quite corn, not quite powder, but most accurately described as porn snow. Here’s a rad shot by Dave Campbell showing Allison in her essence.
Seth had just as much fun as his lady,
and the panel I ended up skiing was one of the nicer surprises I’ve had all season.
By the time we collected and skinned our way up and out from the Whitney Glacier the clock was ticking so we jumped on the south side of Shastina and were treated to the definition of perfect corn skiing. It was so good that I felt like I had just skied a full on blower powder run, only it was just a truly perfect corn run. Here’s Allison effortlessly gliding down the south side of Shastina.
One of the cool things about staging at the Bunny Flat trailhead is you can post up in the parking lot after your hard earned efforts and totally relax for the remainder of the day (photo by Dave Campbell).
For day two we set our sites back to Shasta proper knowing the classic West Face or Trinity Chutes would provide.
Here’s Seth and Allison heading up Avalanche Gulch as early morning light greets the Trinity Chutes.
If you’re heading up to Mt. Shasta via Bunny Flat looking to ski, although you should hit the summit at some point, more often than not, you’ll find the best skiing doesn’t start until you get to the top of the West Face or the Trinity Chutes. Since Dave had yet to stand on Shasta’s summit we decided to head up there along with a good grip of other skiers, riders, and climbers on the mountain that day.
A look down from the summit towards the north shares a glimpse of how worthy some of the other routes on Shasta currently look,
and here’s a shot of Dave enjoying himself on the summit.
Although skiing Misery Hill above the Red Banks is usually nothing but a way to gain some experience making turns on variable high elevation ski mountaineering terrain, the turns were actually not that bad. However, it was no surprise that the turns in the Trinity Chutes were the real gem (photo by Dave Campbell),
as were the multiple panels of perfectly smooth corn and fun mini chutes that were linked up over to Casaval Ridge on our way back to the car.
If you want to check out some more rad Shasta/Shastina photos check out this piece on the Powder website, but all you really need to know for now is as of last weekend Mt. Shasta and Shastina were both firing on all cylinders, 100%. Never mind the blissful porn skiing on north aspects, the corn was absolutely going off! This past week there’s been some weather instabilities in the region with scattered snow showers high on the mountain, and some rain showers and thunderstorms at the lower elevations. However, the weather forecast is looking good for the weekend before a chance of snow returns to the area on Monday so my best guesstimate is there could be some very smooth snow surfaces to ski and ride this weekend. Keep a watchful eye out for rapid warming where any new snow has fallen over this past week, but if you have an inclination to go have one of the best spring runs you’ve ever had, and this area serves up anything like what was experienced last weekend, you can be sure that you won’t be paying much attention to all the banter about what a lackluster ski season was had this year. All you’ll be doing is shaking your head in disbelief, wondering how spring skiing in May on a Northern California volcano be that good.