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Active Travels: Mt. Shasta

Mt. Shasta

By Steve Jermanok

When a five-year-old sketches a perfect triangular cone of a mountain, they come pretty damn close to drawing Mount Shasta. Standing 14,162 feet tall, this snow-clad Northern Californian beauty (a 4-hour drive from Sacramento) can be seen from a 100-mile radius.  To reach its prominent summit, however, is no easy task.  Even in the summer months, you’ll need crampons and an ice ax.  These can be rented locally or you can opt to go with Shasta Mountain Guides who will teach you how to best trudge in snow as they accompany you on the trail. The 6.1-mile, 6,000 vertical feet climb starts at a stone building the Sierra Club calls Horse Camp. You might wish you were on a horse as the South face trail rises sharply past the frozen shores of 10,000-foot high Lake Helen to the icy slopes of the 13,000-foot high Red Banks. This is where your ice ax comes in handy since Red Banks has a good 35-degree grade. Reach the summit and you’ll be treated with views of 10,457-foot Lassen Peak, the Three Sisters in Oregon and the other volcanic peaks that make up the Cascade chain. Give yourself 13 hours for the uphill climb and a mere 1-2 hours for the descent, where you simply slide down on your ass.  The French have a lyrical name for this exhilarating downhill journey, glissade.
Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for Outside, Men’s Journal, Health, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at Active Travels.
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