State of the Backcountry 2014: XVII | Sponsored by Alpenglow Sports

State of the Backcountry 2014: XVII | Sponsored by Alpenglow Sports

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State of the Backcountry 2014: XVII | Sponsored by Alpenglow Sports

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The bounty of spring, Grade-A California corn on Mt. Shasta.

The bounty of spring, Grade-A California corn on Mt. Shasta.

It’s almost June, and even though California hasn’t been as snowy as we’d all like this ski season, there’s still plenty of worthy turns to be had. Last week the Sierra got a little refresh that offered snow sliders a brief taste of winter. In the Tahoe Basin we picked up about 4-6” of new snow with some locales to the south accumulating upwards of 8 inches.

Seth Lightcap enjoys a few May powder turns off Carson Pass.

Seth Lightcap enjoys a few May powder turns off Carson Pass.

Allison Lightcap skins back up for another lap.

Allison Lightcap skins back up for another lap.

During the meat of the storm, North Shore terrain had a nice fresh blanket to slide on until snow levels crept up above the 8k foot mark. The skiing was fun, but got manky quick. Down in the Carson Pass area, a colder snow consistency was enjoyed until the sun finally came out, transitioning winter snow into the above mentioned mank in an instant. Reports from the Eastern Sierra were largely the same, although for a short window some adventurers were able to jump on the new snow before the transition enjoying quality powder on some of the classic lines in and around Mammoth Lakes, Tioga Pass and Sonora Pass.

Mt. Shasta in morning light as seen from snow line via the Brewer Creek trailhead.

Mt. Shasta in morning light as seen from snowline via the Brewer Creek trailhead.

While the mini refresh was undoubtedly a local treat, the true goods continue to be served to the north on the California Cascade volcanoes of Lassen Peak and Mt. Shasta. On the drive north to the east side of Mt. Shasta, the top of Lassen’s NE face was looking good. The lower reaches are pretty melted out, but with access to the south parking lot offering a quick climb to the summit, Lassen will continue to offer a moderate day of effort with fun turns on a beautiful peak.

Jillian Raymond enjoys her morning's work on the east side of Mt. Shasta.

Jillian Raymond enjoys her morning’s work on the east side of Mt. Shasta.

There's still time to score perfect corn in the Mt. Shasta area. Photo: Jillian Raymond

There’s still time to score perfect corn in the Mt. Shasta area. Photo: Jillian Raymond

As fun as Lassen is, if you’re ok with a little bit of dirt walking, and are looking for longer runs, the classic lines of Mt. Shasta continue to ski well. You can drive all the way to the Brewer Creek trailhead at present and it’s about a 20-30 minute hike on dirt before you can start skinning. The upper portion of the route is in great shape and if timed well, the skiing is fantastic.

Whenever you head to the top of Mt. Shasta, make sure you open the summit register to pay some respect.

Whenever you head to the top of Mt. Shasta, make sure you open the summit register and pay some respect.

On the south side of the mountain it’ll take you a bit longer walking on dirt to reach snow, but the upper reaches of the lines you want to ski-the West Face, Trinity Chutes, Avalanche Gulch-are corning up and offering arguably the best spring skiing conditions in the state. Weekends tend to be high traffic times on Mt. Shasta, especially if you plan to ascend the mountain via Avalanche Gulch, but it’s not too hard to get off the beaten path and find some solitude (along with perfect corn) if that’s what you’re looking for.

With a little open mindedness, getting off the beaten path on Mt. Shasta isn't too difficult. A bike might help.

With a little open mindedness, getting off the beaten path on Mt. Shasta isn’t too difficult. A bike might help.

The Trinity Chutes and Shastarama as seen from the base of the Old Ski Bowl.

The Trinity Chutes and Shastarama as seen from the base of the Old Ski Bowl.

It’s always a good idea to read the latest Shasta climbing advisory put out by the good folks at the Shasta Avalanche Center before making a trip. This link will be helpful as well for getting a good idea of upcoming weather. It looks like there’ll be some light precipitation on Mt. Shasta over the next several days, but with freezing temps, that means some Grade-A California corn shouldn’t be too far off either.

A POV of a fun chute on the eastern flank of Mt. Shasta.

A POV of a fun chute on the eastern flank of Mt. Shasta.

It’s certainly feeling like summer across the American West, but there’s still some great skiing to be done if you don’t want to put those boards away just yet. I’ll be back with a ski report from the Jackson Hole area in the next few days. Until then, enjoy the sun, and have as much fun as you possibly can!

“State of the Backcountry” is sponsored by Alpenglow Sports. Established in 1979, Alpenglow Sports is Tahoe City’s original mountain shop. Specializing in Backcountry and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, trail running, backpacking, hiking, camping, and the mountain lifestyle apparel, Alpenglow is always psyched to offer premier user-based customer service.

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