July 3-4, 2004
This was a first ascent for the Obsidian “Dracula climbers” faction. Suffering altitude sickness due to our fast ascent to base camp at 10,400', we temporarily joined the ranks of the undead during our stay up there! Though we’d sought to avoid this by car camping overnight in the Bunny Flat parking lot and setting out at 6:00 a.m. the next morning to avoid the heat, the maneuver was only partially successful. Thankfully, the mosquitoes were “almost” absent, and the tail was clear well up the ridge beyond “Olberman’s Causeway”. Getting to “Lake” Helen by 10:45 a.m., we had our pick of campsites. Good thing too, because by late afternoon a small tent village was encamped up there! Poop management was a big deal up there, hardly a pristine wilderness experience! Deciding to again avoid the heat, mushy snow and crowds, the consensus was to depart for the summit at midnight.
And so, as Diana turned her gaze upon the frozen face of the steep, we remaining 5 resumed the quest. Climbing under starry skies and a full moon, route finding up to the Red Banks was not a problem. We were thankful for the frozen snow as we crossed a rotten ice bridge to enter the left-most couloir in this palisade. A tedious ascent of this snow chute finally lead us to the broad pumice ridge above the Konwakiton Glacier. This ended our need for crampons, and the dry trail hike up Misery Hill proved anticlimactic. Crossing a moon lit snowy crater, we topped out the summit pinnacle at 4:15 a.m. The dawn was yet but a glowing orange promise on the eastern horizon, and the lights of the towns along I-5 stretched out across our view to the SW. A pine marten scurried about watching us as we huddled against a freezing wind while filling out the summit register. With drinking tubes frozen solid, we started down 30 minutes later. Passing the ascending hoard, we arrived safely back at base camp by 7:15 a.m., just before the first rays of the morning sun illuminated our resting place, err, camp site! Successful, if somewhat nauseous, wasted, chilled, and hallucinating climbers included Larry Huff, Chris Steele, Greg Zupansic, & Chris Miller, leader.
This is a view of the south face of Shasta from Bunny Flat parking lot on the evening before climb. There was a thundercloud build-up in the afternoons due to heat & humidity.
Upper segment of our route is shown up to top of “Misery Hill”.
Summit lies in the background to NE, obscured in clouds.
Zupansic, Peggy Mathes & Chris Steele at the man-made “spring” by
the Sierra Club Alpine Lodge.
This is about 2-miles and 1,000’ up trail from Bunny Flat parking lot.
The start of “Olberman’s Causeway” is seen between Peggy and Chris.
This elevated boulder surfaced path traverses the upper alpine meadows and leads one
to the moraine ridge trails and permanent snow fields on the lower reaches of
(Andy Dungan photo)
is a view looking back down from our “Lake” Helen base camp area to
the Sierra Club Lodge and our Bunny Flat trail head, about 3,500’ below.
Andy Dungan (foreground) and Ken Horton at our campsite area by Lake Helen.
Our tent sites were little flats dug out of a northerly facing slope overlooking the snow flats covering what supposedly passes for the “Lake” late in the season.
Note the steepness of the terrain in the background.
The photo above was taken looking down slope from about this same area.
(Andy Dungan photo)