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Casaval Ridge is the obvious classic line that bisects Mt. Shasta’s mass, separating the West Face from Avalanche Gulch. Casaval is a moderate climb with big risk potential in the form of exposure to long falls. The ridge’s serrated spine rises from 8,000 feet behind Horse Camp to just over 13,300 feet at its upper terminus at the base of Misery Hill.
The route that follows Casaval Ridge is a singular line that weaves through gendarmes, across traverses, and along an exposed ridge top. The options seem limitless. Most of it is not particularly technical, but a fall would be tragic. The upper portion of the ridge, above the Second Window, holds the route’s biggest challenges. Parties of mixed abilities often carry a light rope to belay difficult, exposed sections.
At approximately 12,800 feet one reaches the Catwalk, which is a sidewalk width ledge with airy exposure. Early season the Catwalk is snow covered making it more forgiving. It can be avoided, if one chooses, by a short traverse toward the West Face for easier terrain. Later in the season, when snow has melted, the ridge becomes a little raw and touchy. The two main options for a bivy site are at the top of Giddy Giddy Gulch at 9,800 feet, and a flat bench along the ridge at approximately 10,300 feet. The upper sight can often be extremely windy. The route can also be accessed via the First or Second Windows.
This is a fun, rewarding, and beautiful route. Part of the experience is the lofty bivy along the ridge top, so take two days. This route is best done early to mid-season with ample snow coverage.