Siskiyou County Highpoint Trip Report
Date: July 21, 2007
Author: Scott Peavy
Joined a 3-day guided climb with 7 other climbers on the Hotlum-Bolam Ridge
route with Shasta Mountain Guides (SMG). The original route was via the
Avalanche Gulch but, due to low snowpack conditions, the route was changed to
the north side. According to several guides, the last guided Avalanche Gulch
climb experienced a "VW van" sized rock come down off the Red Banks and pass
between groups of climbers.
Two days before our climb, several inches of snow fell high up on Shasta giving
it more of a spring appearance. Our climb started from the Northgate trail head
at 6930 feet. We traveled about 3.5 miles on both an established trail and a
climbers trail to base camp at about 9,950 feet. We closed out the first day
with glacier climbing school.
The next morning we awoke at 3:30 am and hit the snow at 4:45 am. We started
out on the lower snowfields un-roped. Following our first break at about 11,200 feet,
we roped up and began steeper travel skirting both the Hotlum and Bolam Glaciers.
The route alternated between snow gullies and steep sections of loose rock.
Arriving at the "rabbit ears" at 13,660 feet, the climb moderates and we
un-roped and ditched our crampons for the remainder of the climb.
Soon the distinctive sulfur smell takes hold as you reach the summit plateau.
The final climb to the summit pinnacle takes you by many small fumaroles.
The summit was windy, had a light dusting of snow, lots of rime ice and, surprisingly,
a couple of butterflies. The view was absolutely spectacular. Couldn't ask for a
After spending only 15 minutes on top (I was slightly nauseous), we descended
back to camp arriving at 6:50 pm to complete a long 14 hour day. It was tough
getting those crampons to bite for the final two hours. The next morning was
spent closing camp and descending to the trailhead. After getting back into
town, most of our group including our three guides met for lunch at Billy Goats
Tavern (patio table recommended).
What I learned: 1) Two liters of water (SMG recommendation) was not enough.
I was into my 2nd liter well before the summit. I arrived back at base camp with
my throat swelling shut. 2) I needed to eat more during the climb.
3) Although my rented double plastic boots fit my feet well, my shins took a beating.
All in all it was a great introduction to mountaineering, an unforgettable climb
and I would fully recommend SMG's guide services.