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North America, United States, California—Sierra Nevada, Mount Shasta, Hotlum Glacier

Mount Shasta, Hotlum Glacier. Several fine glacier routes lead to the summit of Mount Shasta on its northern side. The Whitney Glacier, one of the largest, has been ascended several times, but the Hotlum, apparently, has been neglected owing to a rather lengthy approach over logging roads long past their prime. In September of 1961 a group from the Sierra Club, of which I was a member, placed a camp high on the Hotlum at 11,500 feet. An ascent was made of the peak over ice slopes to the left of some prominent cliffs 500 feet below the summit on its northeast side. These cliffs form an imposing barrier, as they rise several hundred feet above the final steep ice slopes of the Hotlum. At the apex of these slopes there appeared to be a rather easy route up through the rock. I returned to the Hotlum in September of 1963 with another group for training in ice climbing and crevasse rescue techniques and on the last day of the trip we were able to climb this new route. Bob Tripp and I climbed on the first rope; following us were Carmareau Hatie, Toni Sottile and Francis Walcott. The upper slopes above the bergschrund were climbed in six full leads and soon we were just beneath the crumbling rock wall on snow of some 55°. My estimation of the route rose from class 3 ... to 4 and then, finally, as I struggled to remove my crampons, it became apparent that it would involve even more than that. Our hardware consisted of only 2 ice pitons; however, they were easily placed and did provide dubious protection on some rather startling moves. The rock was multi-colored, with browns, yellows and reds, unstable, treacherous, and otherwise unpleasant. The smell of sulpher drifted over from the fumeroles near the summit and it was quite cold. The first 70 feet were quite difficult and hazardous so the second rope elected to turn back, eventually reaching the summit via the route done in 1961. Two more class 4 leads brought us over the rim of the cliffs and a short scramble led to the summit.

Allen Steck