Kevin's bachelor party.
The plan was simple: convene at the base of
Mt. Shasta, bag the summit, and use various snowsliding
implements to descend. The weather started out
nice enough, but in a fitting tribute to the end of
Kevin's turbulent single life, a late season
blizzard moved in and kicked our butts.
wasn't sure what was more bizarre -- the fact that Kevin was
finally getting hitched, or that he wanted to celebrate the
passing of his bachelorhood by climbing Mount Shasta for the
from all corners of the country. The
Otherprise was brought up from San Diego, en route to
its home in Portland. The Hopkins family drove down
from Seattle. Joel came from wherever it is that Joel
comes from. The DL crew flew in from Chicago.
Kirk drove everyone up from the Bay Area. Griffin and
I showed up to round out the team. Many of us were
return players from
successful 1999 climb via Avy Gulch. We were fired
up. After breakfast at
Bear, and a mandatory stop at the
Fifth Season, we set the radios to 4-20 and headed up to
started out good enough -- great weather and pleasant
skinning/hiking brought us up to treeline near Horse Camp.
Above treeline, the wind picked up a bit and a few clouds
started to form. We had heard about a storm moving in
late Sunday, but we saw no cause for concern this early.
We figured we would get up to advanced camp at Lake Helen
(10,500'), get an alpine start and be off the mountain
before the storm hit.
after setting up camp, a cloud descended from the summit and
enveloped the Lake Helen area. Visibility was measured
in feet, and you nearly got lost walking from tent to tent.
Hoping for the best, we set our alarms for 3am and went to
at that ungodly hour, the clouds were still there and you
still couldn't see your friends. We rallied the
troops, but ultimately decided to bag it -- winds were high,
routefinding was by braille, and it looked like this might
actually be the storm coming in, not just some innocent fog
bank. Once back into the bivy sack, it started to
snow. By the time I crawled out at 7am, I had a few
inches on top of my sleeping bag. Winds were howling.
It was time to bail.
packed up and headed down. Some of us were on
snowboards, some on skis, and some on foot. We picked
our way down the mountain with zero visibility. The
skiing was "dust on crust" with some frozen death cookies,
avy debris and frozen slush tracks thrown in just to make
sure we were alert. Somehow, we all made it down in
one piece, with all of our gear intact. The mountain
had shown us who was boss. As Kevin said at Bunny Flat
-- "You've heard of 'vini, vidi, vici? Well, here it
was 'vini, vidi, we got fricken vici'd!'"
on the link below to see the photos.