The weekend began with festivities at Powell’s. The party really got going when Cappy showed up, grabbed a mike, and started beat-boxing with the band.
24 hours after we left the bar, I was woken when B honked the Element’s horn. Groping in the darkness I found my breakfast – protein shakes, canned coffee and a Clif Bar. Within a few minutes we hefted our packs and started trudging through the darkness towards the mountain we had stared at all afternoon.
Sunrise on Mount Shasta.
Such a massive chunk of earth has numerous climbing routes. There’s the harder side of the mountain and the easier side, and from each side, there are harder places to start and easier places to start, and from each trailhead there are harder routes and easier routes. It should come as no surprise that Trip Leader and Long Ski Producer B, chose to optimize decision making to select the most difficult climb.
We left from our camp that was well below the Brewer Creek Trailhead, and ascended the Hotlum-Wintun ridge, and up the Hotlum headwall to the summit.
And then back down.
When we arrived in camp, I collapsed into a heap and sobbed uncontrollably.
Once this outburst passed, we packed our things and headed for Lassen National Park. When Highway 89 through the park is closed due to snow, the Devastation Area parking lot becomes a bohemian ski camp.
From conversations I overheard in the parking lot: “I don’t get to see my wife very often, because I have to ski at least three times a week.” And, “What do you do?” “I’m a Trustafarian.” We didn’t start anywhere near as early as the day before. And since this increased our risk of experiencing wet slides, we brought along a licensed Avalanche Search and Rescue dog.
As I thrashed and struggled my way up the mountain, the snow got softer and softer. By the time we summited I was a little panicked by the rapidly deteriorating conditions. We shamelessly shoved our way through the crowd that had gathered over the chute that dropped from the top. Cutting a hard traverse across the face to a shoulder ridge, I kicked off a wet slide that carried a stream of slush down thousands of feet. Beyond that the skiing was excellent.
We lingered in camp, while hordes of lady tourists were drawn to bare chested B, bent over his map for directions, and lavished affection on Booker.