Up one level Climbing/Mountaineering Trips » Mount Shasta - Casaval Ridge

Mount Shasta - Casaval Ridge

Paul and I attempted Casaval Ridge again on May 5 - 6. Conditions were fantastic on the day we started out --- snow was firm and weather looked great. We had a late start around 0900 hrs and after a leisurely climb, we arrived at our high camp at 11200 ft at 1600 hrs. We found a flat spot and had the time to dig two fairly large trenches into the ridge. Melted all the water we needed and prepared for an early night. I even called home to check the weather forecast for the next day and it seemed perfect; there's no way we can't make it the next day!

We started the next day at 0200 hrs, weather looked ok. Just as we crossed over to the West Face near 12000 ft or so, I noticed clouds moving in rapidly from Shastina. Ooops. Before long, we were caught in a whiteout with decent winds. We decided to climb up for a while longer in the hopes that it was a local cloud and would soon move away. At 13500 ft, visibility had decreased to less than 20 feet. We couldn't figure out which of the gullies to take to hit the plateau at 13800 ft while avoiding the Whitney glacier, so we decided to wait out the weather. After hunkering down next to some rocks for an hour, we descended 20 feet to a flat area in the snow, took off our crampons, and went into our bivy sacks for another bout of waiting. I called a friend to check the weather and he swore that the weather radar was totally clear and things were looking good! Uh huh. At about 1100 hrs, we had enough of waiting in the cold and decided to descend. It took another 5 or 6 hours of slow descent, first past sketchy steep icy bits, and then postholing into super slushy slopes (in particular, 200 feet of a 60 degree slushy slope that was somewhat sketchy) plus some unnecessary route-finding detours to get to the parking lot. All the photos on this trip are from the first day; the bad weather on the second day precluded any photography.

crw_5773 Mount Shasta on the approach to Horse Camp. Casaval Ridge is the ridge on the left. crw_5782 Paul stowing his gear at 9200 ft. Casaval Ridge is in the background. crw_5785 Climbers ascending to Lake Helen. crw_5789 Paul checking out the gendarmes on Casaval Ridge at 10600 ft. crw_5799 The long traverse along Casaval Ridge. crw_5806 Paul taking a nap along the traverse. crw_5807 Paul resting below the gendarmes. crw_5808 Paul in high spirits in his trench at 11200 ft. crw_5814 Melting snow in my trench with a pretty good view. crw_5816 Paul enjoying the sunset outside his snow trench. crw_5833 Patterns in the snow 2 - 3000 feet below our camp.