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East of Mt. Shasta - Northeast Crest

Location Name: 
Horse Peak/Aspen Butte/Pumice Stone Mtn/Little Mt Hoffman
East of Mt Shasta
Date and time of observation: 
Sat, 12/19/2020 - 2:30pm
Observation made by: 

Location Map

96067 Mount Shasta , CA
United States
41° 36' 27.9864" N, 121° 34' 20.7516" W
California US

Snowpack Observations


A 60 mile snowmobile tour of the east side northeast crest to Little Mt Hoffman L.O. via Pilgrim Creek Road launch.

-The northeast crest, as we've dubbed it, is a crest of small mountains that extends from Mt Shasta and northeast toward Medicine Lake. The peaks, knobs and buttes range from ~6 to 8,000 feet in elevation and can hold high quality snow due to colder temps and ample snowfall. The area is popular for snowmobiling (click for Tri-Forest Snowmobile Trails map) and some skiing. While not obvious avalanche terrain, there are a myriad of small to large slopes that are capable of producing avalanches.

-Hwy 89 to Pilgrim Ck SnoPark: 7 miles, plowed. SnoPark is open, 3,900 feet, 5-8 inches of snow on the ground. Military Pass and Pilgrim Ck Rd are partially plowed currently due to logging operations.

-Pilgrim SnoPark to where we parked on the Pilgrim Ck Rd (see photo): 3.9 miles

  • Observation Location: Horse Peak / Aspen Butte / Pumice Stone Mtn / Little Mt Hoffman
  • Elevation: 3,900 to 6,800
  • Date: 20201219
  • Time: all day
  • Observer: N Meyers
  • Sky Conditions:   Broken (BKN)
  • Current Precipitation: none
  • Air Temperature: high of 36 deg F 
  • Surface Penetration: 10 - 15 inches (boot)
  • Total Snow Depth (HS): 4 to 5,000 feet avg depth: 6 to 12" / 5 to 6,800 feet avg depth: 15 to 25" / Drifts up to 33"
  • 24-hour New Snow Depth (HN24): 0
  • 24-hour New Snow Water Equivalent (HN24W): 0
  • Wind Direction: West
  • Wind Speed: Light

Thought the day would be a little sunnier/warmer, froze our buns off. High temp of 36 on Ash Creek Butte but felt colder. Widespread 4x4 tracks throughout the road systems lower down where snow depths range from 6 to 12 inches. Plenty of time without tracks too along the top of the crest. Deepest snow we could find was 33" deep, a wind drift. Average depth along the crest was about 2 feet. Cold temps and big trees providing shade and wind protection have kept snow quality good. There is not much off-piste riding to be had, but enjoyable road riding.  Numerous, low-lying north facing pockets held well-developed surface hoar.  As usual, a week of sun will help dissolve this potential weak layer. More notably within the snowpack, north facing slopes along the crest, particularly near Pumice Stone and Little Mt Hoffman, had thick layer of fist hard, sugary snow buried about 10 inches deep under a thin crust. Not posing a threat now, this weak structure is not set up well for additional snow load. Will monitor and check in with this layer's propensity for failure before the next big storm.

Wind was light out of the west with partly to mostly cloudy skies and mild, filtered sunlight. Saw two other snowmobilers. A handful of other tracks in the area. Medicine Lake is frozen. Some small streams are still running. Many trees with snow still on them but some starting to drip on sunny south's. Lower elevation snow crusty and also a couple crusts within the snowpack if you dig. You could probably guess, but we did not see any avalanches or anything even close to a sign of avalanche danger. The northeast crest area has the best snow coverage of the forecast area, but is still painfully shallow.


  • Parking, launched snowmobiles from here
  • Route, 60 miles, took southerly route on the way out and northerly route on the way back.
  • Pilgrim Creek SnoPark, 3,900 feet with about 6 inches on the ground
  • Pilgrim Creek SnoPark, 3,900 feet with about 6 inches on the ground
  • Quite a few 4x4 tracks to navigate at lower elevations
  • Some very nice, low density powder, untracked, along the crest at higher elevations.
  • View from Little Mt Hoffman lookout, looking toward the east side of Mt Shasta along the northeast crest.
  • Surface hoar in low-lying, shady, cold pockets
  • The Butte Valley from Little Mt Hoffman
  • Weak snowpack structure. Not a problem now, but not set up well for a big dump!
  • The northeast crest

Weather Observations


see narrative


Cloud Cover: 
50% of the sky covered by clouds
Blowing Snow: 
Accumulation rate: 
Air temperature: 
Above Freezing
Air temperature trend: 
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