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July 9, 2018

Climber Tim Crowther taking in the peace at Hidden Valley camp.

MT SHASTA – Our second domestic peak of the season is towering Mt. Shasta (14,179 ft), guided by Shasta Mountain Guides.  The team opted for the West Face route, which begins at Bunny Flats (6,950 ft) and sets up camp in beautiful Hidden Valley (9,200 ft).  Hidden Valley camp is as picturesque on Mt. Shasta as the Ingraham Flats on Mt. Rainier.  You get to fixate on the climbing route while eating, drinking and sleeping as your summit day is laid out right in front of you.  It’s also a little like standing on the Mt. Hood Hogsback (10,500 ft) and looking at the last 700 feet of elevation before the summit. You feel isolated in the middle of nowhere with no cell service – nothing but your own voice, birds chirping, and the few fellow adventurers also camping in the area.

The team booted up on Saturday morning and moved quickly during an alpine start, making great progress ascending the West Face. The breeze was strong and the temperatures low given the wind chill.  The weather was perfect to watch the sunrise cast the mountain’s shadow over Northern California and Southern Oregon.


The mountain casting her vast shadow.

The team included survivor Marybeth Dingledy making her 3rd attempt on Mt. Shasta, and multiple year Climb to Fight Cancer climbers Tim Crowther and Lisa Carlson.  The combined climber age was about 150 years old so the team figured as long as conditions remained safe, they could endure a little breeze and discomfort.


Survivor Marybeth Dingledy flies prayer flags from the summit of Mt Shasta.

Once the West Face was crested and the team could see the entire upper mountain, they were able to unrope and switch back to their trekking poles and continue on to the aptly named Misery Hill (13,800 ft). Following Misery Hill they walked the equivalent of a somewhat flat football field before climbing up Mt. Shasta’s unique rock formation on the true summit.

It was quite windy on the summit so it was a quick stop to take photos, drink water and sign the summit register before retreating. The descent allowed for a 4,000 ft safe, controlled glissade.  What a way to descend a mountain!  The team made it back to camp in time for some mac-and-cheese and an early bedtime.

IMG_7353Hiking out after a mountain climb is always a surreal experience. The mountain towers at your back and there is a sense of disbelief (with or without a summit) that you were ever high above. Caffeinating, rehydrating and eating when off the peak is enjoyable and especially with such a tight-knit team.

Mt. Shasta hangs above the landscape like an island. It was a privilege to fly prayer flags in honor and memory of loved ones, in her skies.


Saying goodbye to the mountain.

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