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Mt. Shasta, September 2001

Garth and I used to work together, until he went back to the Cayman Islands.  Bastard!  Anyway, a few months before he left he started doing lots of things he could only do in this area and luckily for me climbing Mt. Shasta was one of them.  Along for the ride was his friend from Cal, "Blister".

We left the Bay Area after work and drove up north to a Motel 6 somewhere along I-5 and early the next day were in Shasta.  Our first stop was an outdoor shop to rent crampons but due to lack of snow, they were not required.  We all rented ice axes, just in case, and Blister rented some boots.  We also rented a North Face tent that could sleep four very comfortable instead of bringing two 2-man tents.

In short order we where at the trailhead, packed, and on the move.  We reached the ranger cabin and then began the climb to Helen Lake where we would camp for the night.  I was glad to have the time to acclimatize after my awful headaches going up Mt. Whitney.

None of us slept well that night so we made an early start for the summit, perhaps around 4 AM.  It was dark and we were headed up a scree field.  With every step, you went up 8 inches and then slid down 4 inches.  It was really slow going and the best thing to say about it was that we did it while still half asleep.  

Dawn broke and we found ourselves below the Red Cliffs, it was wonderful to be out of the scree but the weather was really lousy.  For some reason we split up and each climbed the cliffs in a different slot, definitely not the best thing to do.  At the top of the slots I continued up the trail and then sat down to wait, during which time it began to snow and visibility dropped to about 20 feet.  After about 15 minutes that seemed like an hour I started back down and met Garth and Blister coming up.  Because of the deteriorating weather and our complete lack of mountaineering experience I decided that we had to go down.  It was a tough decision because we were very close and it was still early in the day but we didn't even have a map.  Besides the view from the summit would have been non existent.

So down we went, I don't remember much about the walk back down but when Blister took off his boots, well, you will see.  Back in Shasta we returned the equipment and Garth had a large steak.  We had planned on staying another night in town but I persuaded Garth to go directly home.  Actually, it was on the condition that I drove his car, a brand new BMW.  Weeee!

Other than starting at the Bunny Flat Trailhead there isn't much on this map to point out.  We followed the trail until Helen Lake, then climbed scree until the Red Cliffs.

 

Happy faces at the trailhead, and why not, the weather was perfect!  From the left Garth, his friend "Blister" and me.

 

A few miles from the trailhead is this Rangers cabin.  It is also the last chance to get piped water and to use a toilet.

 

We made it up to Helen Lake where we would camp prior to our summit attempt the following day.  I think I made Trader Joe's Macaroni and Cheese with tuna in a pouch.

 

The man himself, Mr. Garth Arch, next to our gi-nourmous rented tent at Helen Lake.  I only have 2-man tents so we rented this one which was large enough for a small army.

 

Day 2 after many hours of climbing this scree field above Helen Lake.  None of us slept very well so we started very early, perhaps around 4 AM.  With normal snow conditions you can walk from Helen Lake to the summit with crampons and slide back down on your butt.  No such luck for us.

 

At the slots in the Red Cliffs Garth was able to try out his ice ax, although he didn't really need to.

 

Now you know why he is called "Blister".  This is what you get for renting boots.  I wore running shoes and Garth wore basketball shoes, each without incident.

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