Mount Shasta 2001

Shasta from the north side at sunset Sept 1, 2001

The climb up Mount Shasta on Labor Day Weekend was unique.  Peter Santino has been working on a Novella, written in Shockwave, which is to be published on the Internet in installments.  It is a work in progress and can be found at   Peter wanted to film the latest chapter, and asked us if we wanted to be "actors" in the story.  We jumped at the idea, and of course I immediately saw this a chance to climb the north side of Shasta, something I have always wanted to do.  When I told my son David about this, he enthusiastically wanted to join in on the venture, and when I mentioned it to Martha, my step-daughter, she too was interested in attempting the climb.  Both Dave and Martha had climbed the south side with me in 2000.

So on August 31 a bunch of us converged on Mount Shasta.  We all met at the Northgate trailhead, and on Saturday morning we climbed the nearly 3000 feet to the glacial moraine at 9,500 feet.  In a fantastic location, looking for all the world like a "moonscape", Peter completed his filming and everyone else walked out that afternoon except for six of us, four of whom were going to make a go for the summit early the next morning.    These four were Steve Dockter, who was was our fearless leader, and quite experienced at climbing the north side of Shasta, my son Dave Kuhnel, my step-daughter Martha McLaughlin, and myself, Ron Kuhnel.  At age 61, I was the "old goat" in the party.

We got a late start, and did not start for the top until 3:30 a.m., however there was a full moon, and visibility was quite good.   We climbed steadily until  we got to the bottom of the Hotlum Glacier.  At this point the going became quite tedious, as the surface was heavily "sun cupped", and the surface icy.  Each step required an extra effort to "set" your crampons, and we did not make very good time.  After about 1000 feet of climbing up the glacier Martha decided it was more dangerous than she liked so she decided to abandon the climb and return to camp.  Steve went down with her until she reached the less steep section, and then returned back to Dave.   I continued on up the slope.  We had to traverse a huge bergschrund  about 50 feet wide and a couple of hundred feet deep.  We finally reached the top of the Hotlum Glacier and traversed across the top of the Bolam Glacier using a rope belay.  This was a very icy spot and a misstep here meant a 6000 foot drop, assuming you did not disappear into a big crevice on the way down.  However from there it was mere 600 foot of elevation scamper to the summit over rocks and mostly level ice.  I had been waiting a long time for Dave and Steve at this point, so I headed for the summit alone.  I reached the top at about 2 p.m.  

After a short stay on top, where I had someone take my photo and I ate my lunch, I signed the register and started down.  I saw David on the cliff above me on his way up, just a few hundred feet below the summit.  To my surprise he turned around and started down. When we finally met up, he said he was satisfied with what he had accomplished, and was ready to head out. I was actually proud of him, as it takes more courage to turn around when you have reached your turnaround time, than it takes to keep going.

The climb down was every bit as tedious as the climb up, even though the ice had softened somewhat.  We arrived back at base camp at sundown.  I was quite tired, and thirsty, and after a trek over to a snowfield to "tank up" on a few liters of water, I climbed in my tent and went to sleep.    The next day we packed up and trekked out to the trailhead.  All in all it was a very satisfying climb.  I am anxious to do it again.  Mt. Shasta is a special mountain.  Below are some photos.

Dave at Base Camp

Ron on top of Mt. Shasta at age 61 on Sept.2, 2001

Dave on descent at top of Hotlam Glacier

Steve on rock on Hotlam Glacier (note climbers below)

From below the bergschrund on Hotlam Glacier

Belay at top of Bolum Glacier