Casaval Ridge, Mt Shasta

25 May 1998 - by Arun Mahajan (view roster page)

The forecast wasnt very good, but there was a break expected on Saturday afternoon and there was another front forecast for Sunday morning. Unsure what to do, and hoping to get some climbing in anyway, about 10 PCS'ers led by George Van Gorden and Bill Kirkpatrick set out towards Horse Camp. The ranger at Bunny Flat was turning back groups who intended to do Avalanche Gulch as the route was living upto it's name and a lot of point-releases were happening.

It was cold and foggy but there were still an amazing number of cars in the parking lot and a lot of climbing parties. We trudged thru the mushy snow in snowshoes till Horse Camp. Suddenly the sun came out and the clouds parted to reveal a part of our ridge. We decided to continue on the ridge till we got to about 9200 ft and set up camp on the relatively flattish spots there. It snowed some and remained generally cool as we dug platforms for our tents. I had a bivy bag, so Ron and Ted helped me dig a trench. The plastic bladed snow shovel worked mostly well, except when we reached the ice which had to be chopped with an axe. The clouds continued to flirt with the sun till we fell asleep.

We woke up in the morning to the sound of snow and rain coming down steadily on our tents. It was cold and wet and visibility was low. A summit attempt in these conditions was unadvisable, so we packed up and headed down. Ron led the way down, the waypoints on his GPS helped a lot in getting us back to Horse Camp, especially at the point a few hundred feet above Horse Camp where we had made an abrupt right turn while heading up.

Interestingly, at Horse Camp, on the way up, we had run into Robert Chang. Robert is a Bay Area local who summitted Ama Dablam last year and had an article on that expedition published in the San Jose Mercury News. Robert was on his 49th attempt of Shasta but had himself turned around due to the bad climbing conditions.

El Nino hasnt loosened it's grip on California just yet.

Climbers in our group to whom the summit of Shasta was denied this Memorial Day were, George Van Gorden, Bill Kirkpatrick, Ahmad Zhandi, Adrienne Van Gorden, Rick and Helena Verrow, Roger Crawley, Alex Keith, Ted Raczek, Ron Karpel, Arun Mahajan.


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