The same holds true for snowboarding in the backcountry. We will respect the
mountain, and leave no trace, but we will keep it metal. So went our recent journey
to Mt Shasta.
Brent Oftedal and I did not plan much for the climb, we planned for the snow camp,
and we planned to poop, and pick it up, and haul it out. Nothing lost, nothing gained
was our moto. We hiked in a couple of miles, and set up camp. To train, the night
before the summit I drank as many beers as I could fit in my pack, and added a
couple whiskey shots allocated by fellow campers, like those Donner Party ass
I awoke around 3:00am to relieve my bladder, to headlamps and hard boots
crashing through the partially frozen crust of our camp, for an early start to the
summit. I saw a long trail of lights as far up as we could see; damn, I probably won’t
make the summit if these suckers are leaving this early. Back to bed.
Our climb started at around 8:00 am after a banana, some water, and a trip to the
compost toilet. Brent opted to forgo the number 2 altogether, out of respect for the
animals, or just plain fear.
The first ½ of the climb was smooth, we had no real agenda to make the very top,
just the first peak was cool for me. Except at each short break, you see that your
homies, photog’s, Jeremy, most of the Jones team, and they were certainly not
The vibe was without meathead peer pressure. Simply keeping up with the some
of the best free riders on earth, and radical ladies Kim Manning, Tifanny Jones, and
Maria Debari was enough to motivate anyone without encouragement.
At each of the bullshit “subpeaks” of Shasta. Everyone just kept going. Eat another
pack of Cliff Bloks, and keep on going.
We had to stay aware of the oncoming glissader’s, descending the same route we
were climbing, sliding on their asses down. Luckily we were going to be riding
down. I know there is a time and a place for sliding down stuff on your asses, for me
those venues are called waterslides.
At about 12000 feet the altitude got to me, and I began to count my steps, 40 steep
steps, stop, catch my breath, and start the next 40. Photographer and kind brother
Jeff Curley had a cigarette at every break. That was some kind of sick.
Taylor Carlton woke up late, around 10:00am, and realized everyone was long
gone toward the summit, so he strapped up his split stick, and turbo-ed his way up
the summit, catching the rest of us near Misery Hill. Most of us had donned our
crampons for the “if I fall I am screwed” steepness, Taylor kept his skins all the way
to the summit.
At the top, there were over 30 split boarders sharing the small peak, drinking water,
and tripping on the eclipse and the moment. We figured this was certainly a record,
the most split board dirt bags atop Mt Shasta.
The ride down was the one of the longest you can get in California, if not THE
longest, 15 minutes if you point it, but an hour if you pick your lines through the
deep smooth corn. We might have been an hour or two late on the snow, as we
stayed to watch the eclipse from up high. The ride down was well worth it, the snow
was the kind you can tweak into at the beginning of your turn, and grab your front
rail. And the best part was, as is the case in backcountry riding, we didn’t need to
look over our shoulder for some Yankee blowing past you and stealing your line.