Interesting Facts About Mount Shasta

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Do you know any interesting facts about Mount Shasta? At 14,179 feet / 4,322 meters, Mount Shasta is the 2nd highest volcano in the Cascade Range and the 5th highest peak in California.

Located about 50 miles south of the Oregon/California border along the I-5 corridor, this active stratovolcano dominates the skyline. Sitting roughly 10,000 feet above the surrounding landscape and nearly 5,000 feet above it’s closest neighboring peak, Mount Shasta is visible from over 140 miles away. Shasta is a solitary, mystical, and wild mountain that appeals to mountain enthusiasts from around the world.

Mount Shasta, California | Pixabay Image
Mount Shasta, California | Pixabay Image

Mount Shasta Quick Facts:

  • Elevation: 4322 meters | 14179 feet
  • It is the 46th highest mountain in US.
  • Prominence: 9822 ft | 2994 meters
  • Shasta is the world’s 96th most prominent peak, North America’s 48th most prominent peak, and the United States’ 11th most prominent peak.
  • Isolation: 334.72 miles | 538.68 km
  • Topo Map: Mount Shasta
  • Lat/Long: 41.41°N / -122.19°W
  • Volume: 84 cubic miles | 350 cubic kilometers
  • It is the most voluminous of all Cascade Volcanoes.
Mount Shasta, California | Pixabay Image
Mount Shasta, California | Pixabay Image

Let’s look at some interesting facts about Mount Shasta:

  • Mount Shasta is located in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The upper portions of the mountain, including 38,200 acres, are designated as the Mt. Shasta Wilderness Area by the 1984 California Wilderness Act.
  • In December 1976, the government designated Mt. Shasta as a National Natural Landmark.
  • The mountain drains into the Shasta River, Sacramento River, and McCloud Rivers.
  • Shasta is home to 7 named glaciers: Whitney Glacier, Bolam Glacier, Hotlum Glacier, Wintun Glacier, Watkins Glacier, Konwakiton Glacier, and Mud Creek Glacier.
  • Whitney Glacier is named after Josiah Whitney and is the largest and longest glacier in California.
  • Hotlum Glacier is the most voluminous glacier in California.
  • Shastina is a popular subsidiary cone that rises to 3,758 meters | 12,303 feet to the west of the main summit.
  • Shasta is an active stratovolcano that formed roughly 593,000 years ago.
  • The USGS estimates that Shasta has erupted “at least once per 800 years during the past 10,000 years, about once per 300 years during the past 3,500 years, and about once per 250 years during the past 750 years.
  • The last eruption was between 200-300 years ago. In 1786, French Explorer Lapérouse claimed to see a volcanic eruption from the sea. This may have been the first sighting of Mount Shasta, but there is no definitive proof.
  • The oldest human settlement in the area dates back 7000 years.
Avalanche Gulch, Mount Shasta
Avalanche Gulch, Mount Shasta
  • Shasta was the last major Cascade Peak to be discovered by Europeans. The 1st reliable sighting of the mountain was by Peter Skene Ogden, a trapper and trader with the Hudson Bay Company, in 1826.
  • Ogden originally named nearby Mount McLouhglin “Sastise”. This name transferred to Mount Shasta in 1841.
  • The Karuk Indians called Mount Shasta, Úytaahkoo, which means “White Mountain.”
Mount Shasta, California | Pixabay Image
Mount Shasta, California | Pixabay Image

Here is a brief look at the climbing history of Mount Shasta:

  • In August 1854, E.D. Pierce made the 1st successful summit of Mount Shasta with a party of 8 climbers. He returned to the summit later that summer and etched his name in a rock at the summit to prove he climbed it.
  • In 1856, Harriette Eddy and Mary Campbell McCloud became the 1st women to summit Mount Shasta.
  • In 1874, John Muir made a 7-day solo circumnavigation and ascent of Mount Shasta.
  • Today, there are roughly 15,000 summit attempts per year as skiers and climbers flock to the mountain.
  • The easiest route to the summit is via Avalanche Gulch. This classic ski route made Chris Davenport’s book for the 50 Classic Ski Descents In North America. It can deliver 7000 feet of perfect corn skiing.
  • In 1959, skiers established Mount Shasta Ski Bowl. It claims the record for most snowfall in one storm in US on February 13-19, 1959 with 15.575 feet | 4.8 meters.
  • On July 6, 2016, Ryan Ghelfi set the fastest known time on Mount Shasta. He climbed from Horse Camp to the summit of Shasta in 1:37:05 (MtShastaNews.com).
Mount Shasta, California
Splitboarding The Trinity Chutes On Mount Shasta

Myths, legends, and lore surround Mount Shasta. Let’s look at some of these mystical stories that make Shasta a spiritual destination:

  • Shasta was a landmark for the Shasta, Okwanuchu, Modoc, Achomawi, Atsugewi, Karuk, Klamath, Wintu, and Yana tribes.
  • Some Native American tribes believe Shasta is the sacred center of the universe and talk of the mountain housing their creator.
  • The Klamath tribe believes that the Spirit of the Above World, named Skell, lives in the mountain.
  • Shasta is a famous destination for UFOs, flying saucers, and aliens. This may be due to the numerous lenticular clouds that could hide the extraterrestrial ships.
  • In 1899, Frederick Spencer Oliver wrote A Dweller On Two Planets. This book claims that the inhabitants of the lost continent of Lemuria in the Pacific ocean moved to Mount Shasta. These advanced beings are known as Lemurians and they live in a crystal city called Telos. This legend became more popular in Harvey Spencer Lewis’s 1931 book.
  • Guy W. Ballard visit Mount Shasta in 1930 where he claimed to have an encounter with a hiker who was the Count of Saint Germain. He went on to found the “I AM” Activity, which developed quite the following.
  • Another legend claims that JC Brown discovered an underground city filled with gold, shields, and mummies. When people teamed up to explore the city, Brown never showed up and was not heard from again.
  • In 1971, a buddhist monastery was founded on Mount Shasta.

The above information about the mystical side of Mount Shasta was hard to nail down exactly. There are numerous theories, stories, and legends surrounding the mountain. To dig deeper and learn more about all of these tales take a tour when you visit the town of Mount Shasta (or on NPR.org or Wikipedia.org).

Mount Shasta, California | Pixabay Image
Mount Shasta, California | Pixabay Image

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