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Demystifying Mount Shasta: A Beginner’s Guide to the Jewel of the Southern Cascades

A group of backpackers heading to climb Mount Shasta with Alpenglow Expeditions
Two ski mountaineers on Mount Shasta with Alpenglow Expeditions
Ski guide Isaac Laredo stands in front of a tent on Mount Shasta

At Alpenglow Expeditions, we understand the allure and challenge of Mount Shasta as an excellent beginner-intermediate peak for climbing and skiing. In this brief guide, we aim to demystify the experience of climbing Mt. Shasta, addressing common questions beginners may have. From the feasibility of a novice ascent to the gear essentials and time commitment, we’ll provide insights to help you prepare.

Can a beginner climb Mt. Shasta?

Absolutely! While Mount Shasta may seem daunting with 7,000 feet of vertical gain over snowy and icy slopes, it is accessible to beginners with the right preparation, gear, and especially those who choose to hire a certified guide. There are various routes suited for different skill levels, and with proper training, anyone with a basic level of fitness and determination can ascend this majestic mountain. Alpenglow Expeditions most often climbs the Avalanche Gulch or the West Face, though we also offer a five day mountaineering school that usually takes place on the Whitney Glacier.

Is Mt. Shasta difficult to climb?

Mount Shasta certainly presents a challenge, but it’s not insurmountable, especially with adequate preparation. The difficulty level largely depends on the route chosen, weather conditions, and individual experience. Some routes like Avalanche Gulch are more straightforward, while others such as Casaval Ridge demand technical skills. Respect for the mountain and understanding its challenges as well as one’s own abilities are key to a successful ascent.

How long does it take to climb Shasta?

The duration of a climb on Mount Shasta varies depending on several factors, including the chosen route, weather conditions, and the climber’s pace. Generally, a climb can take anywhere from one to three days. Most climbers opt for a two-day ascent, camping overnight at camps like Helen Lake or Horse Camp to rest, acclimate, and break up the journey. Alpenglow offers custom private trips for those seeking in-a-day ascents (or other custom itineraries), as well as open enrollment 2-, 3-, and 5-day climbing and skiing expeditions.

Do you need ropes or technical gear to climb Shasta?

The necessity for ropes and technical gear on Mount Shasta depends on the chosen route and the climber’s comfort level with snow climbing and glacier travel. Routes like Avalanche Gulch and the West Face, though steep, do not typically require technical gear beyond basic crampons and an ice axe. However, routes like Casaval Ridge or the Hotlum-Bolam Ridge demand technical equipment including ropes, harnesses, and protection. It’s crucial to research and understand the requirements of your chosen route, and consider hiring a guide if there are any unknowns presented by your chosen route.

Interested in climbing Mount Shasta with certified guides? We offer 3 different route options: Mount Shasta 3-Day West Face Climb, Mount Shasta 3-Day West Face Ski, and Mount Shasta 2-Day Avalanche Gulch Climb.

 

Explore Mount Shasta With Us

An early morning photo of mount Shasta covered in snow with a blue sky above

Mount Shasta 5-Day Mountaineering School

Introductory Next Available
May 9 – 13
5 Days Mt. Shasta, CA
Mountaineer peering into a crevasse on Mount Shasta during an Intro To Mountaineering course with Alpenglow Expeditions

Climb Mount Shasta: 3-Day West Face Summit

Intermediate Next Available
Apr 19, 2024 – Apr 21, 2024
3 Days Mount Shasta, CA
Two ski mountaineers climbing up Mount Shasta during a guided ski trip with Alpenglow Expeditions

Ski Mount Shasta: 3-Day West Face Summit & Ski

Intermediate Next Available
April 19-21, 2024
3 Days Mount Shasta, CA
A group of mountaineering students during a Mount Shasta 5-day mountaineering course with Alpenglow Expeditions.

Climb Mount Shasta: 2-Day Avalanche Gulch Summit

Intermediate Next Available
May 11, 2024 – May 12, 2024
2 days Mount Shasta, CA