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Avalanche Gulch Route Update
Monday, June 20th was a nice day on the mountain. The weekend brought convective showers, low freezing levels, and wind. Temperatures stayed fairly cold on Monday and the north wind decreased to around 10-15 MPH. About 20 climbers made the summit.
There is no snow on the approach until just before Helen Lake camp. Above Helen Lake the snow is textured, with a mix of older, icier snow, avalanche debris, some patches of new snow, and rocks. The ramp to the right of The Heart is still holding adequate seasonal snow, with sections of very textured snow and some smoother snow. The snow was crunchy on the way up until about 12,200' where there was 4 inches of new, cold snow with a 1" breakable wind crust on top. In the afternoon, this new snow was getting moist and sticky due to warming temperatures and solar input. Be aware that these conditions make the snow tend to glop to the bottom of crampons, which can cause a loss of traction and a slip and fall. High temperatures over the next two days should cook this new snow and decrease this problem going forward.
Getting through the Redbanks still presents several options. Most climbers are climbing through to the climbers' center/right. Some of the narrower gullies on the climbers' left have water ice near the top. This is the crux of the ascent and descent. Be sure to take a mental note of which gully you ascend so as to descend the same one! Many climbers get confused on the way down and don't remember the best way down the Redbanks. The consequences of a fall here can be severe. Remember, going up is the easy part!
Above the Redbanks it's straightforward snow climbing to the base of Misery Hill. Misery Hill is mostly snow and rime ice. Once past Misery Hill it's a walk over firm snow to the summit pinnacle where there's a good zigzagging boot track to the summit. All in all conditions remain pretty good in Avalanche Gulch. However, things will change dramatically this week and before next weekend! Forecasted temperatures in Mount Shasta City will be in the low 90's through the week and into the weekend, accompanied by high freezing levels. Expect a lot less snow on the route by next weekend, especially below the Redbanks. This will increase the rockfall hazard.
If planning on climbing next weekend, make sure to check back here through the week for more updates.