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Ready to answer the call of the wild and summit the iconic Mount Shasta? Soaring to 14,179 ft, climbing this active stratovolcano is on top of many mountaineers’ wishlists. And that’s mainly due to its convenient location, epic steep-sided silhouette, and a fantastic variety of routes. Choose between three routes (Hotlum-Bolam Ridge, Hotlum Glacier, or Casaval Ridge), all of them different and unique in their own way, and reach the summit on this 3-day guided adventure! Extremely experienced guides will be by your side, helping you navigate the volcanic, glaciated, and steep terrain—making the climb very challenging but also immensely rewarding.

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Adventure highlights

  • Great prep for bigger peaks

    Summiting Mount Shasta requires technical mountaineering skills, making it the perfect preparation for higher peaks such as Denali

  • Choose between three different routes

    Less-crowded Hotlum-Bolam Ridge, Hotlum Glacier (the second largest in CA), or the classic Casaval Ridge

  • Sleep at 10,000 feet

    Set up a high camp and spend two nights on Mt. Shasta’s slopes under starry skies

Available itineraries

Climb Mt. Shasta via the Hotlum-Bolam Ridge

By taking on the Hotlum-Bolam Ridge route, you’ll experience the northern side of Mt. Shasta and escape the crowds on the south side! Though it requires more technical skill than the routes on the south side, it’s still achievable and does not require previous glacial experience. Starting with the lush pine forests on the approach, you’ll reach wild and scenic glacier views high up on the ridge—and even set up camp at approximately 10,000 ft! A mix of fantastic scenery, fewer people, and varied terrain is what makes this route a favorite for many of your guides.

  • Meet your guides at 8 am at their Mt. Shasta office. After completing a pack check and dividing up group gear, head towards the North side of Mt. Shasta (carpooling recommended due to the small parking area!). Once at the trailhead (Northgate at 7,000 ft), begin your approach through Shasta pine forests and volcanic rock gardens. Your high camp is at approximately 10,000 ft and it will take you a few hours to get there. Enjoy a relaxed pace and mini clinics along the way to camp.

    Depending on the timing and snow conditions, you will maybe need to complete an ice axe and crampon use review to get to the high camp location. As time follows, additional techniques will be reviewed after setting up camp and gettin ready for the next day’s climb.

    Climbers and backpacks on Dhadta
  • Rise and shine very early (2 or 3 am) for an alpine start! Climb via the ridge along the side of the Hotlum Glacier. At upper elevations you will traverse onto the glacier and ascend a small strip of it following the rocky ridge. Finally, along the upper section of the route you will mix in some 3-4 classes before reaching the summit. After signing the ledger at the summit, make your way back down and return to your base camp late in the afternoon.

    Hotlum-Bolam Ridge
  • This day will be spent packing up camp and heading back down to the trailhead. Generally, you’ll arrive in the early afternoon. Make your way back to the town of Mt. Shasta before saying your goodbyes.

    Climbing Hotlum Glacier
  • The itinerary above is a best-case scenario. It’s subject to change at the guide’s description and depends on mountain conditions/weather, group fitness/experience/expectations, and other factors. Days 2 and 3 may switch in the itinerary depending on conditions on the mountain and skill level of the group.

Climb Mt. Shasta up the Hotlum Glacier

The Hotlum Glacier Route is one of the best glaciated routes on any 14ers in California! This 3-day guided ascent starts from Mt. Shasta’s Eastside and ascend the second largest glacier in California. You will weave your way through crevassed terrain and 3 different icefalls before circumventing Shasta’s Upper Headwall and heading towards the summit. This is a fantastic adventure for climbers with previous ice axe, crampon, and mountain experience who want to push themselves and reach the iconic peak of Mt. Shasta at 14,179 ft!

  • Meet your guides in the morning at their Mt. Shasta office. After completing a pack check and dividing up group gear, you will backpack into one of the “Hotlum Hilton” sandy moraine, at the base of Hotlum Glacier. Climbers will have a brief introduction and refresher to glacial travel before heading up from this high camp.

    Hotlum glacier climber
  • Rise and shine! Climbers should expect an alpine start with almost 3,000 vertical feet of glacial mountaineering before crossing onto the upper headwall and climbing to reach the summit! This day should include sampling steep snow climbing, crevasse crossings, serac navigation, and even the potential for pitched climbing on last season’s ice.

    Sunset at Hotlum Glacier
  • This day will be spent packing up camp and heading back down to the trailhead. Generally, you’ll arrive in the early afternoon. Make your way back to the town of Mt. Shasta before saying your goodbyes.

    Climbing Hotlum Glacier
  • The itinerary above is a best-case scenario. It’s subject to change at the guide’s description and depends on mountain conditions/weather, group fitness/experience/expectations, and other factors. Days 2 and 3 may switch in the itinerary depending on conditions on the mountain and skill level of the group.

Climb Mt. Shasta up the Casaval Ridge

Ready to take on one of the most iconic and classic routes on Mt. Shasta? This route follows a spiny rock ridge known as Casaval Ridge, an exciting path boasting steep terrain and spectacular views. You will sleep at a high camp (at 10,000 ft above sea level!), and that’s where you will review skills and techniques needed to attempt this ascent. Determination, excellent physical conditioning, and solid ice axe and crampons skills will lead you to the top! Technical steep terrain and variable weather conditions make this an excellent pre-requisite climb for Denali or any South American expedition.

  • Meet your guides at their Mt. Shasta office at 8 am and complete a pre-climb pack check. Your guide will also divide group gear. Head to the trailhead just outside of town (Bunny Flat) on Mt. Shasta’s South side. Begin your approach to your base camp on Casaval Ridge. Pass the historic “horse camp cabin” along the way and gain elevation by rising above trees before arriving at your camp. Along the way, your guide will provide instructions and explain the terrain, route, and what to expect.

    Once at camp, located approximately 10,000 ft overlooking much of the Avalanche Gulch route, you will review some essential ice axe, crampon, and rope-handling skills needed for the climb. Tuck in for an early evening as you prepare for an early morning the next day.

    Casaval Ridge
  • Wake up early (between midnight and 1 am), have a quick breakfast and a hot drink (hot chocolate, coffee, tea) before saying goodbye to camp for a while. Generally, you’ll want to leave camp by 2-3 am for the best chance of summiting. Approximately 3 miles and 4,500 vertical feet of climbing separates you from reaching the 14,179-foot summit! Due to short daylight hours and higher likelihood of inclement weather moving in, you will have to summit or turn around no later than 11 am. It’s a very challenging day, but also very fun and with incredible views. After the summit or turnaround time, you should arrive at camp around 4-5 am. Enjoy a second evening under the stars.

    Casaval Ridge mountaineering
  • Wake up with the sun hitting your tent and enjoy breakfast. Pack up and make your way back to the trailhead while being sure to have a look up at what you had climbed the day prior. The journey from camp to trailhead takes a few hours, putting you back in the vehicles by mid to late afternoon.

    Sunset at Casaval
  • The itinerary above is a best-case scenario. It’s subject to change at the guide’s description and depends on mountain conditions/weather, group fitness/experience/expectations, and other factors. Days 2 and 3 may switch in the itinerary depending on conditions on the mountain and skill level of the group.

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Meet your guides

Winston Mueller
5.00
Winston Mueller
As a southern Oregon native, Winston built his rock climbing and mountaineering experience in Oregon’s Cascade Range and high desert crags. He has been with SWS since 2021 and plans to continue developing his skills and education through the PCGI all while guiding Mt. Shasta and rock climbing around the west.
Adrian Groth
5.00
Adrian Groth
An avid thru-hiker and mountaineer, Adrian has climbed, backpacked, and guided across the western United States, Africa, Canada, and Alaska. He has summited Mt. Shasta dozens of times with many more to come. Adrian currently holds certifications in Wilderness First Responder, Avalanche level 1 + Rescue, AMGA SPI Course, and is a soon to be Registered Nurse.
SWS Mountain Guides
5.00
SWS Mountain Guides
SWS Mountain Guides has been in continuous operation since 1981 and is one of the oldest backcountry mountain guiding companies in California. Their quality of instruction and guidance rests in their organizational strength, commitment to safety, and quality of our guides. SWS operate the broadest range of programs in the most venues in California. They lead summer and winter adventures at Mt. Shasta, North Palisade, Temple Crag, The Incredible Hulk, and much more!
5.00 (6 reviews)
Rebecca Holstrom (source: Google Reviews)

Great Shasta summit experience with SWS! My family had a 5 person private climb with Kory and Jackson, and we couldn’t have asked for a better experience. One of our party had to turn around due to altitude sickness, so one guide ensured he made it to camp safely while the other made sure the rest of us got our boots on the summit! Summit aside (it’s optional, down safely is mandatory) the whole experience was educational, pushed us in all of the right ways, and one I’d love to do again!

Gregory Kulik (source: Google Reviews)

One of the best times of my life summiting Shasta via Hotlum Bolam Ridge route. This wasn’t the first time we’ve worked with Winston and SWS and it will not be our last. They provide high quality service from booking to summit and to your safe return home.

Andrew Moran (source: Google Reviews)

Just finished my second trip with SWS Mountain guides…summiting Mt. Shasta a few days ago (previously climbed Mt Whitney last summer with SWS as well). This company provides excellent service both on and off the mountain, from addressing all my questions prior to the trip to establishing a well-rounded professional and fun educational experience during the climb itself!!!! Specifically, the guides on my trip were amazing, connecting with me on both a professional and personal level, keeping in tune with all aspects of the climb, emphasizing safety and education while helping me to fine-tune my climbing technique. Having used several different guiding services in the past, I have no hesitation to highly recommend SWS mountain guides!!!!

Hugh O’Kelly (source: Google Reviews)

I have climbed Mt Shasta twice with SWS. Simply put they provide exemplary service! The first time was in June, 2012 with guide Brian Shesmeta. The second time was in May 2021 with guide Benjamin Rademacher. Both of these guides were exceptionally professional and went well beyond what I could have expected from them. David and Tim did not climb with me but prior to climbing went well out of their way to answer all my questions and to very efficiently take care of all the business end of things. I highly recommend SWS Mountain Guides with out any reservations.

kavin anburaj (source: Google Reviews)

Loved my experience with SWS guides. Collin and Jackson were amazing. They were patient, supported us whenever we needed it. They were very clear with their instructions and we felt very secure though we didn’t have much experience with mountaineering before. Highly recommend SWS and Jackson and Collin! Thank you both for such a great experience!

Sarah Shupe (source: Google Reviews)

Would definitely use this company again for another trip! Our 2 guides for Shasta were awesome, friendly, and super knowledgeable. Also, GREAT communication from staff regarding any and all trip details. Highly recommend SWS!

Things to know

  • What you get on this adventure:

      • One or two experienced guides with extensive knowledge of the area
      • 3-day Mount Shasta climbing adventure along the…
        • Hotlum-Bolam Ridge
        • Hotlum Glacier
        • Casaval Ridge
      • Accommodation on the mountain (2 nights in tents)
      • Breakfasts and freeze-dried dinners
      • Hot beverages while on the mountain
      • Personal climbing equipment (ice axe, helmet, harness)
      • Group equipment (ropes and safety equipment)
      • Group camping equipment (tents and stoves)
      • Permits and license fees including Mt. Shasta summit fees

    What’s not included:

      • Transportation to and from the starting point (Mt. Shasta town)
      • Transportation from the town of Mt. Shasta to the trailhead
      • Accommodation prior to and after the climb
      • Lunch and snacks
      • Mountaineering boots and crampons — possible to rent with your guides
      • Other personal equipment (backpacks, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, down jackets, Gore-Tex jackets) — possible to rent with your guides, but let us know in time
      • Travel insurance
      • Guide gratuities — optional
  • Experience level requirements

    This is an intermediate to advanced climb depending on the route conditions (intermediate — early summer, advanced — late summer) that requires previous experience in mountaineering skills including ice axe and crampon use along with basic rope team knowledge. Basic knowledge of knots and belays are also recommended for those wanting to attempt the climb. Due to weather conditions encountered during the climb, previous winter camping skills are strongly recommended.

    Physical conditioning requirements

    Participants must be in excellent physical condition. Backpacks will weigh between 45 to 65 pounds (20-30 kg).

      • Elevation gain on all three climbs is between 7,000-7,300 ft (2,134-2,225 m) starting from the trailhead.
      • The distance covered on the ascent is approximately 7 miles (11 km).
      • You must be comfortable climbing 500-600 ft (152-183 m) per hour for 6-8 hours at a time.
      • Summit day alone will have over 4,000 vertical feet (1,220 m) and cover about 3 miles (5 km).
      • Camp location is generally between 9,500-10,500 ft (2,896-3,200 m). If you’re concerned about altitude sickness, please contact us. There are several techniques that can help you avoid, or at the very least, minimize adverse reactions to altitude.

    Important note

    In preparation for the trip, make sure to drink at least 3-4 quarts of water a day for at least 2-3 days before the climb, preferably for the whole preceding week—it will make adjustments to altitude and exertion infinitely easier.

  • Although breakfasts and dinners are provided by your guides, we still ask you to bring your own favorite, high-calorie, high-carbohydrate lunches and snacks (bagels, cheese, dried fruit, trail mix, Clif bars, chocolate…). You will need approximately 200-300 calories per hour (7-9 hours on summit day alone.

    Keep in mind that there will be a variety of options available for breakfast and dinner, but your guides cannot guarantee specific choices of flavors or meals. If you have a favorite breakfast that only requires hot water, we encourage you to bring it. The town of Mt. Shasta has a few grocery stores and markets, but having things you’re familiar with and in hand when you meet your guide is essential.

  • It’s extremely important for the success and safety of your climb that you bring all the items listed below. Due to the strenuous nature of these trips, it’s important that you pack well and light. The weather on Mt. Shasta can be either very warm or very windy and cold—it’s usually both!

    It’s required that you wear 4 layers on top and 2-3 layers on the bottom, plus hats, gloves, sunglasses, and other items on the list. If you have any questions regarding your equipment, feel free to contact us.

    Equipment

      • Hybrid or plastic mountaineering boots: (e.g.: La Sportiva Evo or Nepal, Scarpa Inverno)
      • Crampons 12 point hinged or semi-rigid crampons (e.g.: Black Diamond Sabretooth or Contact Crampons)
      • Sleeping bag — rated to 10-20 degrees, synthetic or down
      • Full-length sleeping pad
      • Internal frame (55 to 80 liter volume)
      • Personal tent — recommended for individual climbers. SWS will provide tents.

    You do not need a separate day pack for summit day—carry the above pack snubbed down, packed with only lunch and extra clothing. The rest stays at the camp. The above items are available to rent with your guides.

    Outer shell layer

    Since this layer is your first line of defense against the elements (wind, rain, snow, and cold), it’s imperative that they are of the proper design, fit, and construction.

      • Parka – Gore-Tex or equivalent (with attached hood that is large enough to fit over all insulating layer(s) and helmet)
      • Nylon wind pants or bibs — Gore-Tex or equivalent (side zippers are a highly recommended feature, for ventilation and for taking them on or off over heavy boots and crampons)
      • Gore-Tex gloves or mitts with windproof shells or equivalent (Black Diamond Guide Gloves)
      • Calf-height or full-length gaiters (Black Diamond FrontPoint gaiters)

    Underwear

      • Synthetic base layer or wool long john top — light or mid-weight
      • Synthetic base layer or wool long john bottoms — light to mid-weight

    Insulating layers:

      • Fleece or down jacket (Millet Alpine Down) — available to rent with your guides
      • Extra synthetic top (expedition weight recommended) or fleece sweater, or wool shirt or equivalent
      • Medium-weight synthetic running tights or light fleece pants or synthetic pants
      • 2-3 pairs wool or thermal heavyweight socks (no cotton!)
      • 2-3 pairs wool or light liner socks (no cotton!)
      • Wool or synthetic gloves light liner type (Black Diamond liner gloves)
      • Wool or fleece hat — a lightweight balaclava is very good for sleeping comfort

    Other important items:

      • Nylon stuff sacks for gear organization (enough for all equipment)
      • Three one-liter, wide-mouth water containers (no runners or bike bottles!) — a hydration system such as Camelback may substitute for all but one wide mouth bottle
      • Swiss Army Knife or small pocket knife
      • Good quality (dark) sunglasses with side shields / wraparound sunglasses
      • Sun block & chapstick (SPF 30+)
      • Long-sleeved, light-colored synthetic t-shirt and bandana (for the hot approach)
      • Shorts (for the warm approach)
      • Sunhat
      • Buff, bandana, or neck gaiter
      • Small bottle of hand sanitizer
      • Water filter or water purification tablets
      • Headlamp (Black Diamond Spot)
      • Insulated cup
      • Small bowl and spoon
      • Small first aid kit with personal medicine
      • Toilet paper
      • “Sports drink” water additives such as Gatorade, Liquid IV, Cytomax, etc.

    Optional

      • Ski poles / trekking poles — highly recommended
      • Ski goggles
      • Balaclava
      • Down of fleece vest
      • Fleece or synthetic pants or bibs recommended for early season (May through early June)

    Climbing equipment (provided by guides, but bring your own if you wish)

      • Sit harness (Black Diamond Alpine Bod)
      • Personal ice axe
      • Helmet
  • Indeed you can! Hardshell jackets, down jackets, snowshoes, crampons, and trekking poles are available for rental through your guides. Let us know in time if you need anything.

  • Porters are available by reservation on all Mt. Shasta climbs and cost $250 each way. Porter’s loads are limited to a maximum of 45 lbs. Porters can be shared between clients in the group, but the weight stays limited to 45 pounds. Let us know if you’re interested.

  • Group sizes and prices:

      • Regardless of the route you choose, climbing Mount Shasta is done with a 1:3 guide-to-client ratio. Maximum group size is set at 6 participants.
      • The minimum number of participants is set at 2. However, if you’re the only one that signs up, it’s still possible for the tour to run. Check out our “Deposit and cancelation policy” down below.
      • The cost does not decrease as the group grows.

    Climbing Mount Shasta can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

    Min. age requirements:

      • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
      • Minors younger than 18 may be permitted to join the hike on a case-by-case basis, but must be in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.

    If your group has climbers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

  • To get to the town of Mt. Shasta, most people fly into Sacramento Airport (SMF) and Medford International Airport (MFR). Depending on where you land, you can rent a car, or take a bus or a train to reach the town of Mt. Shasta. Keep in mind that you’ll need a car to reach the parking area at the remote trailhead (carpooling recommended).

    Make sure to arrive to Mt. Shasta at least a day prior to Day 1 of the tour as you’re meeting your guide early in the morning of Day 1.

  • We highly recommend that you cover all your bases with both emergency medical and travel insurance. With medical insurance, if you have an accident or medical emergency on or off the mountain, you’ll avoid paying out of pocket for costly expenses. This covers everything from hospital treatments to emergency air transportation and more.

    It is strongly recommended that all participants purchase travel insurance to protect themselves from unforeseen circumstances. In addition, travel insurance can protect your investment in a
    trip if you must cancel at the last minute.

    We also expect you to respect local regulations and take measures to protect yourselves, your guides, and the communities you’re traveling to.

    If you need assistance selecting the right insurance for your group, let us know and we will be happy to help!

  • Deposits

    You can secure one of the set dates with a 30% deposit upon booking. The remaining 70% of the trip price is to be paid 90 days prior to departure, at the latest.

    Secure your early bird spot with a 10% deposit! This tour gets sold out very quickly, but with early-bird booking, you will be the first one to know about any new upcoming dates. Pick your preferred dates without the risk of your bucket list adventure selling out!

      • Only 10% of the total amount should be paid as a deposit upon booking. This deposit is non-refundable, but can be transferred to another 57hours adventure anytime in case the dates don’t suit you.
      • Once the dates are set, you can confirm your booking by paying another 20% of the total amount.
      • The final balance is due 3 months (90 days) prior to departure.

    Cancellations

    Booking fees are non-refundable in all cases. During checkout, however, you can choose one of 57hours’ flexibility options:

    Basic

      • In case of cancellation within 48 hours after booking, the amount paid is fully refundable.
      • For cancellations 60 or more days before the trip, you are eligible for a 70% refund of the trip price.
      • For cancellations 0-59 days before the trip, there is no refund.

    Flexible

      • In case of cancellation within 48 hours after booking, the amount paid is fully refundable.
      • For cancellations 60 or more days before the trip, you are eligible for a full refund of the trip price.
      • For cancellations 30-59 days before the trip, you are eligible for a 50% refund of the trip price.
      • For cancellations 0-29 days before the trip, there is no refund.

    Super Flexible

      • In case of cancellation within 48 hours after booking, the amount paid is fully refundable.
      • For cancellations 30 or more days before the trip, you are eligible for a full refund of the trip price.
      • For cancellations 0-29 days before the trip, you are eligible for a 50% refund of the trip price.

    Your guides reserve the right to refuse services to any guest deemed inadequately prepared at the office/trailhead. To avoid disappointment and for the safety and enjoyment of all involved, please arrive with all of the above items. If you have any questions about your equipment, let us know.

    Your guides reserve the right to cancel and reschedule climbs or courses due to minimum bookings (make it go guarantee) or other unforeseen circumstances. You will receive a refund or credit when the course is canceled, rescheduled, or transferred to another course. Your guides are not responsible for additional expenses, including non-refundable airline tickets, equipment, medical expenses, etc. We recommend you obtain trip cancellation insurance to protect yourself.

    Make it go guarantee:

    If you are the only client that signs up, we will contact you two weeks prior to departure to give you several options.

      • Pay a $100.00 surcharge per day, and your guides will run the course as a private one-on-one.
      • Transfer to another trip with your guides at no charge.
      • Cancel the trip and get the full refund.

    Your guides reserve the right to reschedule seminars and courses due to severe weather conditions or other uncontrollable circumstances which make the course or climb unsafe to continue. Weather Credit or Partial Weather Credit (gift certificate to be redeemed for any course, climb, or clinic offered by your guide) will be given for courses or climbs during or within 24 hours of the course start dates if severe weather conditions or other uncontrollable circumstances make the course or climb unsafe to continue. The decision will be at the discretion of the climb leader and the Director(s) of the guiding company.

Have more questions? Read our FAQ, or Talk with us
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