This route is one of the most sought after ski/board descents on Mt. Shasta, as well as an excellent climbing endeavor. Often referred to as the “Hotoon," it is a permanent snowfield between the Hotlum and Wintun glaciers. No crevasses are encountered along the route's length, as long as one does not stray out onto the Hotlum Glacier. It is sometimes called a ridge, though don't expect much of a ridge.
From the Brewer Creek trailhead a climb into the alpine expanse of the Hotlum and Wintun glaciers is simply amazing. The route begins on low angle slopes near tree line, then steepens as one gains the moraine leading to the lower reaches of the huge snowfield. There are ample bivouac sites here between 9,800 and 10,000 feet on top of the moraine. As one ascends, the slope angle gradually kicks up, but nothing of concern. At around 12,800 feet the route begins to traverse climber’s left over a shallow ridge that separates the "Hotoon" from the Wintun, and below a steepening rock buttress. Climb up and climber’s right of Ship Rock, an isolated column of basalt at about 13,200 feet. From Ship Rock up is the steepest portion and the most highly consequential portion of the route. Slope angle at the top of the chute just below the true summit is over 40 degrees. A variation of this route continues straight up, foregoing the traverse at 12,800 feet, finishing through the narrowing chute at the top of the snowfield.
Though there isn't much glacier hazard on the route you must be comfortable with glacier skills. This route can be very icy in the late season, and a fall would be extremely serious. Early to mid-season the skier or snowboarder can find nirvana. The descent from summit to tree line is spectacular. Check the road status on our site as the winter snowpack can keep the trailhead out of reach by car until June or July. This adds distance to your approach. Take two days to enjoy this route.
The Brewer Creek Trailhead is open and high clearance 4WD vehicles can drive in all the way. The bathrooms are open and human waste packout bags are available inside. As of 07/18/17 a rough drainage crosses the road at the 7,000ft level, 3/4 of a mile from the trailhead. Parking exists near this crossing for low clearance vehicles.
The climbing conditions for this route are good. Continuous snow can be found at the 8500ft level. Sun cups and rough snow surfaces exist, but smooth corn snow can still be found above 10,500ft.
Rangers have not been on this route yet this Spring. This route is pretty straight forward with a couple variations possible near the top. Stay on snow and don't knock rocks down onto climbers below. Where most people run into trouble on this route is descending back to their car. It's common to miss your vehicle too far to the south (skiers right). When descending, be sure to make a gradual trend skiers left, aligning yourself between Ash Creek Butte and the large lava flow that abruptly drops off at around 9,000 feet. If you put yourself in between these two land forms, you'll nail the descent every time. Again, just remember to trend left at the base of the lava flow at about 9,000 feet, not too far, but by placing yourself in between Ash Creek Butte and the blocky lava flow. This is mostly an issue for skiers when there is snow all the way down to the trailhead.
Call with questions!