Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sierra Shralpathon: Green Butte, Shasta

After 10 hours driving south on I-5 though a raging rainstorm, Jim and I capitulated and stopped in the city of Mount Shasta, CA for the night on Monday. The wind and rain howled against the hotel throughout the night, but it felt too warm for there to be good skiing accessible.

In the morning we cast the weather I Ching, and it reported that Shasta had received at least 10 inches of snow above 7800 feet, and the wind--while brisk--was not as narwhal as what the Sierra was about to receive. We drove up towards Bunny Flat, heartened by the deepening snowbanks on the road, and increasing deposits of fresh on the trees.

Shasta Soup

We skinned up through fog, snow and occasionally gusty winds along the Green Butte, a gentle treed ridgeline to the east of the Avalanche Gully route. We made it to 8300 where the poor vis and snorting winds turned us around, and enjoyed smooth windpack and then 3 or 4 inches of fluff on denser snow down to 7400. It was fun enough that we were totally in agreement about the necessity of another lap. This time, the sucker holes opened, and we being undoubtedly a pair of suckers, followed them up to 9100', where the vis promptly shut down and the snow got increasingly slabby. Fortunately, after a few minutes waiting in an emetic whiteout, another hole opened up and we hastily skied down to tree line, where we enjoyed more fluffy turns on a bowl that drained off the east side of the ascent ridge.

Sucker hole (and sucker)

The runout was not as flat as it looked, and the trees were beautifully spaced, so we had no problem gliding through the powder and pines back to the car, freshened for the remainder of our voyage to the Eastern Sierra. This was a bit different than Erin and my adventure two days ago in the Stuart Range. I think I could get used to California.

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