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Mt. Shasta: The Perfect Stepping Stone to an International Expedition

A view looking up Mount Shasta showing snow in the foreground, a rocky ridgeline and a beautiful blue sky with a few clouds

At Alpenglow Expeditions, our program is based on educational and experiential opportunities.

By following our naturally progressive course and expedition curriculum, it is possible to go from a first-time climber on the Via Ferrata to a self-sufficient high-altitude mountaineer, a journey that will take you to unique and unforgettable locations around the world.

One of the most common questions we get is this: how do I make the leap from the U.S. to an international expedition, like the Ecuador or Peru Climbing School? How do I prepare?

The answer: Mt. Shasta.

Located just over 4 hours north of Lake Tahoe, Mt. Shasta is a glaciated stratovolcano topping out at just over 14,000’. It looms high over the surrounding landscape, bursting over 7,000 vertical feet from base to summit. With plenty of vert, technical terrain, and moderate altitude, Mt. Shasta is the perfect stepping stone to go from local adventures to international expeditions.

For many, a Mt. Shasta expedition is the first chance to get familiar with the very same gear and techniques we use on nearly all of our expeditions worldwide. Technical skills such as how to use a mountaineering ice ax to self-arrest, how to move efficiently uphill while wearing crampons, how to travel as a roped team, and how to perform a crevasse rescue are all skills that first-timers can learn on Mt. Shasta before tackling bigger objectives.

Plus, it’s an ideal training ground for the softer skills that make life on expedition much easier: understanding how your body handles altitude, how to organize your climbing pack, fundamentals of snow camping and kitchen craft, and what you need to have with you to stay comfortable while in the field.

Each of these things are essential to a successful expedition, and Mt. Shasta offers the opportunity to learn as part of a team under the supervision of a certified guide before heading overseas.


Mt. Shasta Offerings

To sweeten the deal, Alpenglow offers an array of adventures of Mt. Shasta (as well as private expeditions) to accommodate virtually anyone who is eager to jump into the world of mountaineering.

We’ve found that 3 days on the mountain offers the best chance of success for our Mt. Shasta trips. On a typical trip, we’ll spend the first day ascending to camp, where we’ll then go over basic snow climbing techniques and brief for the next day. With an alpine (early morning) start, we usually summit around mid-day on Day 2 before heading back to camp for dinner and celebration. The next day, we’ll wake up to magnificent views over breakfast before descending back to base and wrapping our trip. Check out our expedition overview for the 3-Day West Face Climb—we also offer this as a ski trip!

For those keen for a deep dive into technical alpine skills, our 5-Day Mountaineering School offers the best chance to test your mettle at moderate altitude while learning the basics of alpine climbing, glacier travel, and crevasse rescue. Over the course of 5 days, you’ll learn how to plan your very own trips while becoming a self-sufficient mountaineer, and tag the summit of Mt. Shasta as an added bonus.

For those with a high level of physical fitness and a limited amount of time, we also offer a 2-Day Avalanche Gulch Climb. This quick hit adventure boasts an aggressive itinerary that sees us climbing to high camp for a few hours’ rest overnight before an early attempt on summit and returning to base the next day.


Next Steps After Mt. Shasta

If you leave Shasta hungry for a longer, more involved trip to the mountains, the natural next step is to take your skills abroad on an introductory-level expedition. In Ecuador or Peru, for example, you’ll take the fundamental skills you learned on Mt. Shasta and apply them to taller, more technical peaks like Chimborazo (the tallest peak in Ecuador at 20,549’/6,263m) or Pisco (18,871’/5,752m) in Peru’s famed Cordillera Blanca. Check out our blog, “How to Become a Mountaineer in Two Weeks,” for more information on our climbing schools.

If you are looking to learn, grow, and be a part of a welcoming climbing community, join us on Mt. Shasta. Our Shasta trips are designed specifically with beginners in mind to bridge the gap between local adventures and international expeditions under the guidance and supervision of our certified guides. Give us a call at 877-873-5376 or send an email to info@alpenglowexpeditions to chat with our staff.

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

Mount Shasta Mountaineering School

Introductory Next Available
June 13-17
5 Days Mt. Shasta, CA
Mountaineer peering into a crevasse on Mount Shasta during an Intro To Mountaineering course with Alpenglow Expeditions

Mount Shasta West Face Climb

Intermediate Next Available
Jun 14, 2024 – Jun 16, 2024
3 Days Mount Shasta, CA
Two ski mountaineers climbing up Mount Shasta during a guided ski trip with Alpenglow Expeditions

Mount Shasta Ski

Intermediate Next Available
June 21-23, 2024
3 Days Mount Shasta, CA
A group of mountaineering students during a Mount Shasta 5-day mountaineering course with Alpenglow Expeditions.

Mount Shasta Avalanche Gulch Climb

Intermediate Next Available
Jun 22, 2024 – Jun 23, 2024
2 days Mount Shasta, CA
Guide shows rope skills during an Intro to Mountaineering course near Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains with Alpenglow Expeditions' Tahoe mountain guides.

Intro to Mountaineering Course

Introductory Next Available
Running privately while conditions allow, open enrollment will resume in Spring 2025
1 full day (8 hours) North Lake Tahoe, CA