Kenneth Madden

Mt. Shasta, California

Gary, Darragh and I attemped to climb Mt. Shasta in Northern California around mid September. The snow had long receded and when we told people in Shasta town that we were headed up the mountain we mostly elicited a “but why?” response. We reached the trail head late in the evening and had to pitch our tent in the dark by the time we got to the Clear Creek campsite. I was lucky to survive the night considering the dangerous level of poisonous gases I was exposed to in our tent. We pitched it on a hill so I literally fell into a short sleep for a couple of hours before heading off at four in the morning under an almost full moon.

The previous day’s incredulous “but why?” responses very quickly made sense: If a rock slide didn’t kill us the shear exhaustion of climbing up what seemed like a giant sand dune would. In one of the pictures you can see Gary asleep after taking a five minute break. We had to shake him out of a deep sleep. We turned around at about 13, 500 feet as a rock slide had cut off the trail and large sections of it began to shift as we tried to cross it to pick up the trail. We had all the hard work done but you have to be sensible about these things.

Thousands of butterflies appeared as we started our decent. They seemed to float along the gentle air current that blew across the mountain. You can see one move over the lad’s heads at our summit. Mariposas will always give you a lift. We had run out of water also so by the time we made it back to camp, about eleven hours after setting out, we drank straight from the creek beside our tent and water has never tasted so good.

Photography wise i was happy to have the my Nikon D3 with me for the fantastic ISO ability. You can see from the photo’s that I was more or less shooting in the dark at times. It is a bit risky taking such expensive equipment when you’re climbing a mountain but you’ve got to consider that the possibility of breath taking photo opportunities that you want to capture as best you can. On balance I think I’ll take the back up camera next time. Oh ya by the way- NEVER try to climb Mt. Shasta when the snow is gone. Clamp- ons are the way to go.

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