Sunrise on Mount Shasta’s Mud Creek Basin.
I will be among the first to proclaim that we need more snow. Halfway through January, we have not gotten that big winter storm that really builds up the snow pack and sets the mountains up for a good summer. With weather incoming next week, and two typically snowy months yet to come, I am not worried about how the winter is going at this point. It also leaves conditions on Mount Shasta that I find really appealing, from an aesthetic point of view.
In particular, I really like it when the mountain is white, but all the crags and spires are mostly snowless. This really highlights these towering features as well as the volcanic layers that compose parts of the mountain. The contrast of the white mountain with the rocky black feature jutting upward is quite spectacular and one of my favorite condition sets for images of the Mount Shasta.
The last two mornings have been almost featureless in the sky, with hardly a cloud to speak of. This has caused me to focus in on the finer details of the mountain and, nicely enough, the conditions have been particularly good for that. It is also of great benefit that most of Mount Shasta’s best crags are located on the west and south sides of the mountain, which are the sides most easily accessed from town. There are a few good rocky areas on the mountain’s northeast side, particularly along the Hotlum-Bolam Ridge and also around the summit of Shastina but the southern and western exposures are, by far, the most interesting when it comes to spires and similar formations. Notable formations include Shastarama Point, Thumb Rock, and Casaval Ridge. The entire expanse of the Mud Creek Basin is especially rugged territory, with dozens of nameless towers bursting from the ridges and loose volcanic debris. The main reason for this broken terrain is that they are part of the chaotic jumble where Mount Shasta’s four eruption cones meet. Read more about that here.
So, until more snow falls (which I think will be soon), I intend to enjoy Mount Shasta’s crags and the ragged visage they give the mountain.
Casaval Ridge is among the must rugged regions on Mount Shasta. The towering spires shoot upward from the ridge and make an incredibly, sawtooth-like image. This is a favorite winter-ascent route. The palisade of rock is easily visible from anywhere on the west side of Mount Shasta.
At the top of Avalanche Gulch, where the Red Banks and Casaval Ridge meet, there is a great collection of spires that mark the top of Misery Cone, one of Mount Shasta’s four eruption cones. This area is one of the few west-side points that catches the first light of dawn.
Thumb Rock is the highest of a collection of towers that line the top of Sargents Ridge. Though these too are prominently visible from the west side, they are really the back side of what is more dramatically exposed in Mud Creek Basin. These are some of the oldest crags on Mount Shasta, belonging to the Sargents Ridge eruption cone.
The east side of Sargents Ridge makes up half of Mud Creek Basin and it is one of the most spectacular corners of Mount Shasta. Filled with massive towers and enormous blocks of andesite protruding from the cinders and bedrock, it is a feast of visual detail. This area is best viewed from McCloud and contribute to that perspective being among the very best of Mount Shasta.