11-16-23 General Conditions & Climbing Information (2024)

Bottom Line:

After a short hiatus inprecipitation, winter weather will return to Mount Shasta on Friday. Wind and snow is expected throughout the weekend. Accumulation of 10+ inches of snow is likely above 8,000 feet, with even more at higher elevations. These conditions make an ascent of Mount Shasta dangerous and unforgiving. The gate above Bunny Flat tothe Old Ski Bowl on the Everitt Memorial Highway is closed.

General Message:

Be Prepared!!

Our goal is to ensure you have a positive wilderness experience and come home in one piece! So,


Accidents and Hazards

Many incidentsoccuron the mountain everyseason. The most common accidents includerockfall injuries, lost climbers, and slips and falls in steep terrain. Most accidents can be prevented with proper planning and preparation.

  • Do not climb into a whiteout.Always carry a map and compass and/or GPS device and route plan ahead of time.
  • Keep your group together.If you split up, have a solid plan and make sure everyone has proper equipment and knows the way.
  • Do not glissade with crampons on.If you choose to glissade, take OFF your crampons and make sure the snow is soft.
  • Know how to properly self-arrest with your ice axe.A slip and fall on the upper mountain can be fatal.
  • Wear a helmet and watch out for rockfall.Climbers get hit every year.

With the right knowledge, skill, equipment, and decision-making, all of these accidents can be easily prevented. Please, wear a helmet, and know how to use your ice axe and crampons any time of the year.

There is always the potential for thunderstorm activity during the summer months to shroud the mountain in clouds, limiting visibility. Climbers becoming disoriented on the upper mountain in whiteout conditions and subsequently descending the wrong route is not uncommon. These kinds of scenarios have resulted in many searches over the years. It should go without saying, but we will say it as a solid reminder: Check the weather before you go and more importantly, monitor the weather as you climb. DO NOT CLIMB INTO A WHITEOUT! Being caught on the mountain in any type of weather can compromise life and limb.

Understand that if something goes wrong or a member of your climbing party gets injured, you need to be prepared to self-rescue. If you have an emergency on the mountain, call 911. Be prepared to provide your location and the nature of the injury.

Many hazards exist in mountain terrain. Some of these include:

  • Ice and rockfall
  • Altitude
  • Extreme weather
  • Avalanches

Icefall and rockfall are possible year-round. It's a simple equation: as snow melts, rockfall increases. If rime ice is seen plastered to exposed rocks above, it will eventually flake off and fall onto climbers.Wear a helmet and keep your eyes upslope as you climb. Pay attention to other climbers: rockfall is often caused by climbers resting in melted out areas and accidentally dislodging rocks onto slopes and climbers below. Be careful not to kick rocks down onto others.

At the height of 14,179 feet, Mount Shasta is a high altitude peak. It is common for climbers to experience acute mountain sickness (AMS) with signs and symptoms of nausea, headache, and lightheadedness. Despite being a common condition, AMS should not be taken lightly. It can quickly develop into a much more serious and potentially deadly pulmonary or cerebral edema. Rest and hydration are vital to alleviating AMS symptoms. If these symptoms do not improve, your only choice is to descend!

Mt Shasta is a 14, 179-foot volcano with steep slopes, avalanches, glaciers, rockfall, altitude, and extreme weather. Some may feel like Mt Shasta is "safe" due to its proximity to Interstate 5 and its "easy" climbing objective connotation. This is false. One should still expect cold, winter-like conditions at any time of year. Have the appropriate gear AND skill level. Mountaineering is dangerous, and climbers must constantly evaluate the terrain, weather, and many other factors to have a safe trip. One should also not expect immediate rescue. Many factors can prolong rescues. Thus, it is necessary, no matter what mountain of the world, that you be prepared.

Mountain Weather

Check the WEATHER FORECAST before coming up onto Mt. Shasta! Our site's main menu hosts numerous resources on the weather. Researching the mountain weather should be an important part of your trip planning.

Clouds and Precipitation: While you may encounter fair weather at lower elevations, cloud caps can form up high. Never climb into a whiteout, as many climbers have become lost or died in similar conditions. Many routes from all aspects of Mt. Shasta converge on the upper mountain (>12,500 feet). During limited visibility conditions, climbers have descended the wrong side of the mountain. Keep an eye on the sky as you climb, turning around if clouds begin to build on or near the mountain.

Lightning: Mt. Shasta is a 14,000-foot lightning rod and is frequently hit by lightning (usually in summer and fall months), so don't push your luck with building thunderheads.

Wind: Winds can reach over 100 mph at tree line (8,000 ft) and much higher in the alpine region. Winds of 40 mph can knock you off balance. Winds of 60-70 mph can force you to crawl. Hurricane strength winds (>74 mph) can make it nearly impossible to stand and will destroy well-anchored tents. The strongest winds occur with big pressure and temperature gradients in the atmosphere and tend to occur in front of and behind storms. The lowest winds occur when the center of high pressure is over the Mt Shasta area. Take this seriously as the wind has resulted in searches, injuries, and fatalities.

Tips & Notes

Climb early and descend early. This limits exposure to inclement weather (afternoon buildup of clouds is common), allows plenty of time to descend before dark and allows a rescue effort to ensue before dark if one gets injured or lost.

Get an alpine start (2-5 am) and have a turnaround time of 12 to 1 pm. Proper equipment, clothing, and training are a must. Helmets are always recommended and expect rock and ice to fall at all times.

Bring extra warm gear (like a down jacket, balaclava, and extra gloves) in all seasons as climbers often develop superficial frostbite during strong winds. The wind chill temperature near the summit in winter and spring can be well below zero.

Anchor your tent well wherever you camp. Tents can and do blow away frequently. Do not plan to camp above treeline if you do not have anchor lines for your tent.

Solo climbing is not recommended. Traveling with an experienced group is a good idea, and remember - do not split up the group!

The routes on the north and east sides are not recommended for unguided novices; glacier travel and route finding skills are prerequisites.

Mountain Rescue

Do not expect to be rescued. Rather, prevent rescues from happening in the first place, and be prepared to handle rescues within your climbing party should something happen. Nature sets its own terms, and YOU must judge how much risk you are willing to accept.

When to Climb

The BEST time to climb Mt. Shasta is usually fromMay to mid-July on the south and west sides of the mountain when summer days are longer and the weather is generally stable. However, in dry years, the thin snowpack creates the best climbing conditions in April, May and early June. When the snow melts, you are left with 7,000 feet of scree, talus, and boulders. In heavy snow years, the climbing season extends to August or September. There is NO trail to the summit. Climbing is much safer and more fun on consolidated snow.

A winter climb of Mt. Shasta is possible. Still, it is more difficult and dangerous: extreme weather, short days, avalanches, falling ice and potential post-holing increase the difficulty and danger on all routes. If you choose to travel in the backcountry during the winter and spring, you need to have the proper equipment and training to stay safe. An avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe and the ability to identify avalanche terrain and snow stability are essential. A climb of Shasta should not be taken lightly.

Every year, many climbers become lost, injured or killed while attempting Mt. Shasta. Many of these accidents could have been prevented with a little bit of pre-planning and training.YOU need to come prepared.

What to Bring

  • MANDATORY: wilderness permit, summit pass, human waste pack-out bags. Available for self-issue at all open trailheads.
  • THE TEN ESSENTIALS: map and compass, sunglasses and sunscreen, extra food and water, extra clothing, headlamp/flashlight, first aid kit, matches/lighter, stove, knife/multi-tool, bivy sack

Wilderness permits, summit passes, and pack-out bags are currently available at all trailheads, the Mt. Shasta and McCloud Ranger Stations and The Fifth Season outdoor store in Mount Shasta City. All trailheads are currently open. Annual passes ($30) areavailable at The Fifth Season storeas well as the Mount Shasta/McCloud Ranger Stations. The Mount Shasta and McCloud Ranger Stations are usually open Monday through Friday from 8 to 4:30 PM.Check our climbing regulations for more details.

Using common sense and carrying the TEN essentials keep you and your party out of search and rescue statistics. Wear a helmet, and know how to use your ice axe and crampons. Be prepared and pay attention. The mountain has extreme weather changes.

Winter and Spring months usually see periods of heightened avalanche danger, though this danger could exist in the summer months under the right circ*mstances. Research the weather and avalanche danger while planning your trip. Have your climbing party bring avalanche beacons, probes, and shovels armed with proficient skills in their use. Know how to identify avalanche terrain and evaluate snowpack stability.

Shasta Alpine Hut

The stone cabin at treeline on the Avalanche Gulch climbing route is open year-round and all are welcome. However, one cannot sleep inside the cabin, except in emergencies. The composting toilet is open for the season and drinking water is available at the spring. Caretakers are present five days a week for the climbing/hiking season. If you plan on camping, there are two dozen dispersed sites on the property, anominal $3/bivy and $5/tent fee is asked. There is a fee deposit tube inside the cabin. This fragile area gets a lotof use. Please practice Leave-No-Trace principles. Lastly, the property owner, the Sierra Club Foundation, manages its property under the Mt. Shasta Wilderness rules – dogs, horses, and other domestic animals are not allowed. No drones. Thanks!



Winter Message:

While a winter climb of Mount Shasta is possible, understand that it significantly raises the stakes. Extreme weather, short days, avalanches, falling ice, and potential post-holing increase the difficulty and danger on all routes.

Bring the proper equipment with the knowledge to use it effectively. This includes:

  • Avalanche beacon
  • Shovel
  • Probe

The ability to use these tools in a rescue, and to be able to identify avalanche terrain and snow stability are absolutely necessary.

Also remember to bring standard winter mountaineering equipment:

  • Warm winter clothing
  • A robust tent
  • Proper navigation tools (electronics fail quickly in cold weather)
  • An ice axe and crampons.

DO NOT attempt to climb Mount Shasta without proper training, preparation and research. Despite being 15 minutes off the interstate, Mount Shasta is a real mountain with real consequences.

The road to Bunny Flat Trailhead (6,950 feet) is plowed and open in the winter. The gate to the Old Ski Bowl is usually closed for the season after November 1st. There are bathrooms, but NO running water or other facilities. Access to other trailheads is dependent on snow cover. All wilderness trailheads are winterized and closed for the season. You may still access them, but your summit pass, wilderness permit, and human waste pack-out bag must be attained at the ranger station in Mount Shasta or McCloud.

REQUIRED TO CLIMB MT SHASTA: Summit pass ($25 and required above 10,000 feet, even if you don't plan on going to the summit), wilderness permit (free) and human waste pack-out bag. All of these items are available for self-issue at all OPEN trailheadsor the Mount Shasta/McCloud Ranger Stations and The Fifth Season store in downtown Mount Shasta. Annual passes are available from The Fifth Season, 300 N. Mount Shasta Blvd as well as the Mount Shasta/McCloud Ranger Stations.

Conditions Update:

Do not fret though, the mountain will still be here next year for those aspiring to climb. Its been another phenomenal climbing seasonon Mount Shasta, and we thank everyone for recreating responsibly anddoing their part in keeping themountain a wild and pristine place.We look forward to serving you next year!

For this weekend:

Mount Shasta has shifted to a winter weather pattern that will persist through the weeks ahead. Snow continues to accumulate at theupper elevations of Mount Shasta. The snow line currently lingers around 7,500 feet, though this may rise if the sun comes out. Precipitation will return Friday night and continue through the weekend. This system could provide an inch or moreof water by Monday. This system has been upgraded as it gets closer, don't underestimate it. As this storm develops, snow levels will likely drop to around 4,500 feet (or lower) for a brief period. Winds will increase as the storm progresses, starting out in the moderate range, then strong to extreme by Sunday morning.

If you absolutely must climb the mountain,Clear Creek is the routefor this time of year. Again, conditions will be changing on this route in the coming weeks. With varying amounts of snow on the upper mountain and constant cold temperatures, climbers should bring everything needed for a winter ascent on Mount Shasta. Seriously, don't underestimate the conditions you will encounter this time of year. Plan accordingly, and bring the proper clothing and gear. This includes an ICE AXE, CRAMPONS, AND HELMET. Shallow snow on top of dirt and loose rock make slips and falls easier than ever. A few inches of snow on top of loose scree can be tedious and slick to climb. When collecting water from the Clear Creek spring, please be respectful of the surrounding alpine environment by keeping thoselug soleboots on durable surfaces.

Let's talk about the current mountain conditions. There is snow on the ground above 8,000 feet. The depth of snow will vary based on elevation and aspect. Plan on anything from dust on rocks, to a couple feet of punchy snow. The summit pinnacle will have ice between the rocks, travel through this area with caution. As for weather, expect all possible options. Mount Shasta is a 14,000 foot storm magnet. In the fall and winter, it's really hard to predict each storm to hit the mountain. Climbers should plan on precipitation while at upper elevations. Do notunderestimate it. If you start to see weather approaching, stop climbing and reassess the hazard.

Climbers should also carry navigation tools. Ideally, carrya GPSornavigation deviceyou are familiar with. Have a solid understanding of where you are travelingbefore setting out. Tell someone where you are going.Pack the appropriate gear and layers for the weather. This time of year, it's seriously cold up there. Do not rule out the risk of rock fall in steep terrain andbring a helmet. As always, respect the environment and do your part in leaving-no-trace. Pack it in, pack it out. Leave themountain better than you found it.

Glaciatedroutesare displayingexposed ice, rock, and crevasses. Snow bridges are weak to nonexistent.Climbing remains possible for those properly skilled and equipped. Most of the remaining snow fields sit above large boulder fieldswhere a slip andfall without self-arrest can be ugly, if notfatal. Please do your part in recreating responsibly.

This time of year, there are a few specific hazards that you should consider:

1.Slips and Falls:This can happen on any steep snow or rock slope on Mount Shasta. With new snow blanketing the rock and dirt up high, taking a nasty fall is easier than ever. Know how to properly self-arrest when traveling on snow.

2. Rockfall:Rockfall is a common occurrence on the upper mountain ofMount Shasta, resulting in multiple injuries this season. This hazard can increase with new snow and wind dislodging rock at exposed areas. As you travel on the upper mountain, be cognizant of the loose rock around you. Anything you dislodgecould hit a climber below. Keep your head up and wear a helmet.

3.Glaciers:Snow bridges are weak to nonexistent, and crevasse fall is a concern. If you are climbing a glaciated route, your best bet is to start during the coldest temperatures to increase the stability of these bridges. Glacier travel means having a rope team rigged for crevasse rescue, carrying a probe, and glissading with extreme caution.


However, if you can't wait to climb Avalanche Gulch, there are some things you should consider. The standard route from Helen Lake is no longer a straightforward climb. Gaining the Red Banks from the Left or Right of the Heart will involve increased exposure and technical scrambling amongst loose rock in steep terrain. This route is NOT RECOMMENDED until next season. Aspiring climbers need excellent route navigation and technical ability if choosing to climb.

Short Hill and Misery Hill arefully melted out, with only rock exposed. Walk with caution while traversing to Short Hill. The rock in this area is very loose and could fall on other climbers below. Build yourself a margin of safety by climbing early and setting yourself a turnaround time of noon or earlier. Do not climb into bad weather and have the skills and knowledge needed for the route. Always carry navigation tools and know how to use them.


Camping at Lake Helen:This route is not recommended. If you must go, camp on the dirt sites. Remember to pee and/or use your wag bag on the far east side of the Helen Lake moraine. Collectsnow for water uphill, to the north ofcamp. Thousands of climbers camp here; cleanliness will prevent illness! On another note, wind can often be very strong around camp and the upper mountain. Anchor your tentwell.Before heading up the mountain, walk through your camp and collect any micro trash left behind. We greatly appreciate your help in maintaining the natural and cultural integrity of this landscape.

Human Waste:We have been finding it on the mountain. Remember, you are required to pack out your waste within the Mount Shasta Wilderness area. If a Climbing Ranger catches you leaving human waste on the mountain, you will receive a federal citation. Be sure to bring up a wag bag, provided FREE at all trailheads. Moreover, we can all agree that encountering free-range human fecesis gross!

Recreate responsibly, my friends. This means to plan and prepare properly. Be honest with your own and your group'sskills and abilities. Be kind to others. Respect the mountains and Mother Nature. Pick up after yourself. Leave-No-Trace. Don't love to death the places that we love.

Please read all the information below to learn about current conditions, how to climb Mount Shasta, wilderness and climbing regulations, and mountain safetytips. Despite being 15 minutes off I-5, climbers should understand rescue is neither automatic nor instant. Even rescues that seem easy and straightforward involve planning, effort, and risk.

If traveling above 10,000' you need to purchase a summit pass, even if you don't plan to summit.These are available for self-issue at all open trailheads and the Mt. Shasta or McCloud ranger stations. Annual summit passes are available to purchase at The Fifth Season gear shop in Mt Shasta City during business hours.

Climber safety and mountain sanitation are two of our top management priorities. Please do your part to keep the mountain clean and pack out all waste. It isREQUIRED to pack out your human waste on Mt. Shasta. Yep, if rangers catch you pooping without a wag bag, a citation can be issued.FREE wag bags are available at all open trailheads.

Please help keep Bunny Flat clean. It is one of the busiest places on the Forest. Camping is allowed in the parking lot or just below in the dispersed camping area. It is primitive camping, no water/other services available, except bathrooms. The camping stay limit is 7 consecutive days, and no more than 30 days total in the calendar year.Pack out your trash.

Checkour recent observations for photos and read the spring avalanche statementfor the most up-to-datemountain conditions.

Our weather tab has several great links for weather, including the rec forecast and discussion.

Please read all the information below to educate yourself on general information about what it takes to safely climb Mt Shasta. If you have further questions, don't hesitate to give us a call. We are not always in the office, but will respond as soon as we can:530-926-9614 or email nicklaus.meyers@usda.gov.

11-16-23 General Conditions & Climbing Information (2024)
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