Jun 18 2012

TR: Mt. Shasta, Hotlum Glacier

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Touring up Mt. Shasta’s Hotlum Glacier

A wet sluff on the Wintun.

The wet slide on the Wintun Glacier spoke of the warmth of the past few days. I didn’t get a super early start, so was wanting to ski something more north facing.  I was hoping for some wind or cloud cover to save the snow, but the air was still.  Plus, I didn’t want to take off my skis and hike over any dry patches.  The snow was continuous up and to the right so that’s where I went.  

Up to the large moraine and under the steeps to the right.  More of a north facing aspect holds the snow longer over here.  I could see the snow continuing on up and reaching the horizon above the North Gate route with a route up the right side of the Hotlum Glacier. The steep slopes coming off the moraine above me would be a great run on the way back.  I stayed low and skinned along with my right lifter on high and the left one on low.  The snow was icier here, but the skins gripped just enough to send me up and up to the horizon on the right.

Last shot of the upper Hotune route.

I was moving along at a good clip and the views started to change. The main route up the east side started to disappear.

The upper Hotlum Glacier and headwall to the summit.

I skinned up to the horizon. I thought there might be a route left, through to the lower portion of the Hotlum Glacier, but had to continue up and to the right since the upper portion of Gravel Creek was snow covered.

Onward to the horizon.

Looking up the Hotlum Glacier.

The angle was perfect for skinning. I stayed low, off the steeps to my left and jibbed on towards the ridge I could see on the skyline. I soon reached the ridge and was now above the Inconstance Creek drainage. Right across from the Chicago Glacier. I looked up and to the right to the base of The Step. Now I had a choice. Both choices appeared to require crampons. These slopes faced more north and were icy and glazed. I could skin in to the base of the Chicago Glacier and crampon up the steeps to the ridge on the hikers right of the Hotlum Glacier. But there was a short cut.

Just to my left a the slope looked like it accessed the lower portion of the Hotlum. I was at about 10,000 ft. A quick nap was in order, so I lay down for about 15 minutes and recharged. When I awoke I switched to crampons and hiked up the slope. Sure enough, I was standing at the bottom of the Hotlum Glacier.

The Chicago Glacier.

And to my right, I could see the bergschrund of the Chicago Glacier.

After cramponing up the icy north-facing slope, the top was more flat and facing straight up, perfect for skinning, especially since the snow was corn. I put the skins back on and jibbed up the right side of the glacier. The glacier was spectacular!

Seracs on the Hotlum.

...and more seracs...

...and further up the Hotlum Glacier, more seracs.

I skinned up for about an hour. Stopped at the top of a rock field and took a break. The snow was starting to become real structured and wind affected above me. After taking way too many pictures, I prepared to descend. It was about 11:30. The heat was on and the snow above me was really wind sculpted. I was at 11,110 ft. The temperature was 43°.

The snow was soft and buttery along side the glacier. When I got down to the first ‘window’, I dropped left, off the ridge and got some north facing corn on the Chicago Glacier. I then looped around to the right and honey-combed my way down the steeps.

I started the camera rolling for the descent and stopped a few times mid-video to take a few still shots.

My route.

What a great day! I found some north facing corn slopes. Nice and steep. This is really a nice way to access the upper mountain. My route led me from the east side, up and to the right and I ended up almost on the North Gate route. Easily skinnable on the way up if you stay low, but some nice steep lines on the way back if you stay high. The snow was very smooth. Going to have to try this route again!

I took almost 100 pictures. The full set can be viewed here:
Jibmaster’s Flickr archives on Hotlum Glacier Ski Tour

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