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General Conditions on Dec 31, 1969
Climbing conditions on Casaval Ridge have passed their prime this season. It can get VERY windy on Casaval so be prepared. Your camp and climb of this route could easily be thwarted during a wind event. Even though the weather may show sun in the box, check the wind forecast if you want to increase the odds of a successful climb of Casaval Ridge. Consider camping at Horse Camp or be sure to anchor your tent very well if windy. On your climb, wind can easily knock climbers off balance and cause a fall. Immediate self-arrest is mandatory to prevent a long slide for life on the smooth and firm snow currently in place on Mt Shasta. If however, you catch this route on a windless, sunny day... you're in for a treat. Once one reaches the top of the ridge, near the base of Misery Hill, it is common for climbers to get disoriented in a "white out" and wander off of the wrong side of the mountain. Know where you are going, don't climb into a whiteout!
We had a large portion of the Redbanks formation along the Catwalk section of the route blow out earlier this year. Currently, the Catwalk is passable, but it is not advised. Large rime ice formations and unstable boulders threaten the Catwalk at this time. Traversing out onto the West Face is the recommended way to bypass this exposed section of the route.
For those who want a challenging, but fun ascent of Mount Shasta, this route fits the bill. This is not a route for the faint of heart, however. While this route is not technically difficult, Casaval Ridge presents its difficulty by providing exposure to long slips and falls along much of the upper ridge line. It is recommended that one has strong self-arrest skills, route finding, and solid winter mountaineering experience and judgment.
For your descent, many choose to descend down Avalanche Gulch and then traverse back to their camp along the ridge. This option presents loose wet and sometimes wind slab avalanche danger however. Use caution. Eliminate this problem by camping at Horse Camp and descending Avalanche Gulch entirely. The other option is to descend the ridge the way you climbed which can be tedious and slow.