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The Shasta Effect with Isaac Laredo

Climb or ski Mount Shasta with our professional Lake Tahoe mountain guides

This week I connected with Alpenglow guide Isaac Laredo to talk about Mt. Shasta. Isaac is an AMGA Assistant Ski Guide, an apprentice Alpine and Rock Guide, an AMGA Single Pitch Instructor, Wilderness First Responder, and a Leave No Trace Master Educator, with experience guiding in Northern California, the Eastern Sierra, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Japan. For Isaac, Mt. Shasta represents the place where his guiding career began in earnest.

Mt. Shasta is home to many firsts for Isaac: his first time using an ice ax, wearing crampons, traveling on a glacier, and standing above 14,000 feet. Over time, Shasta became more than just a training ground for Isaac. It became a rite of passage, a symbol of growth and progression, and a launchpad for his burgeoning mountaineering career that’s taken him from Northern California to Andean peaks like Cayambe, Huayna Potosí, and Pequeño Alpamayo.

As a guide leading expeditions on Shasta and around the world, Isaac sees the mountain as a crucible for developing the skills that prepare us to tackle bigger, more technical, and/or more remote objectives. Shasta presents the opportunity to navigate glaciated terrain, manage unpredictable weather, and mitigate risks like avalanche danger, rockfall, climbing through no-fall zones, and crevasse hazards.

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

But Shasta isn’t just about technical proficiency: for many, Isaac included, it’s about fostering a deeper connection to the mountains and to oneself. As a guide, Isaac has had the privilege of witnessing the transformational power of this peak, as he’s led our teams to push beyond their comfort zones and discover their own inner strength. And while the esoteric notions of our connection to the mountains and their ability to provide transformative experiences may, at times, border on platitude, there is truth in cliché. On Mt. Shasta, Isaac has borne witness to what draws so many of us to the mountains time and time again: the opportunity to take a good, honest look at ourselves and see what we’re truly capable of. In this way, the mountains offer us a unique sense of clarity.

In the end, Shasta isn’t just a mountain—it’s a mindset. Soaring high above the surrounding landscape, this beautiful peak has been revered by those who’ve passed beneath its slopes since time immemorial. Today, it is a Mecca for the mountain masses: there are those who make annual ascents, those who see Mt. Shasta as their first hopeful step toward bigger mountains, those who make a living moving up and down its snowy slopes, those who use it as a technical training ground, and those who simply choose to admire its grandeur from afar.

At Alpenglow, for guides and clients alike, it is a stepping stone along the Road to Everest. Whether your Everest is the Big E itself or simply a moniker for another mountain dream, Mt. Shasta is an opportunity to soak in some gratitude along the way—it’s a stopping point to look back and appreciate the experiences that brought us here, and look ahead to those that it will propel us toward.

Learn more about our guided climbing trips on Mount Shasta.

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