Best American Adventures: Ski Mountaineer Mount Shasta

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Best Adventures
feature with 50 new trips, bringing our grand total to 100 iconic escapes (see the map, state-by-state list, and photo gallery, too). So no matter what your pleasure—hiking,
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By Kate Siber; Photograph by Chris Carr, Shasta Mountain Guides

Mount Shasta is one of the largest Cascade
volcanoes by volume, but think of it as a gentle giant. This
14,163-foot (4,317-meter) volcano that towers over northern California
is a veritable utopia for mountaineers: It’s gifted with spectacular
vertical relief, relatively mild terrain, and reliably sunny weather
that makes for prime climbing conditions. “There are few places in the
world where you have that much vertical without the objective hazards,”
says Chris Carr, director of Shasta Mountain Guides.

From
a base camp above 8,000 feet (2,438 meters), the outfitter offers
three-day courses that teach novices the basics of ski or snowboard
mountaineering, such as how to use ski crampons, climb with skins, and
self-arrest. Day three is when they put it all together for a summit
bid: Students rise at 2 or 3 a.m. and zigzag 5,000 vertical feet (1,524
meters) up to the peak, a jumble of boulders big enough for multiple
people to scramble on top to take in the views, which stretch as far as
125 miles (200 kilometers). The reward is one of the longest continuous
ski descents in the Lower 48: Through some of the nation’s best corn
snow, you’ll turn 7,000 vertical feet (2,134 meters) down a consistent
35- or 45-degree slope all the way to the trailhead.

Need to Know: Join Shasta Mountain Guides (www.shastaguides.com) on a prescheduled trip, starting at $595, from May through June.

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