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Mount Saint Helens

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Mount Saint Helens

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Washington, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 46.19140°N / 122.1933°W

Object Title: Mount Saint Helens

County: Skamania

Activities: Hiking, Skiing

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 8365 ft / 2550 m


Page By: Bob Bolton

Created/Edited: Apr 22, 2001 / Sep 26, 2016

Object ID: 150360

Hits: 131562 

Page Score: 99.52%  - 116 Votes 

Vote: Log in to vote


Pre-eruption Photos


The current Mt. St. Helens VolcanoCam image.

Even before May 18, 1980 when Mt. St. Helens blew its top sky-high while vaporizing a vast area to its north, it was the smallest of Washington's 5 volcanoes at 9677 ft (2950 m). The blast removed far more than that 1312 feet from the height of the mountain. It left a mere shell of what had been a beautifully symmetrical cone. The melting of several glaciers contributed to the massive floods. Sliding earth buried wonderful stands of virgin forest and recreational facilities and killed untold wildlife. A beautiful tree-lined lake was dammed to a higher level and filled with heat-stripped logs. Condensed rock vapor was carried on the wind to be deposited up to thousands of miles away.

For seven years recreational climbing was banned on Mt. St. Helens. Then in May 1987 it was reopened. Only the south routes are still allowed. Access to the crater is strictly forbidden.

On clear mornings I can see the mountain as I drive out of my neighborhood to work. That view is a constant reminder of the power of nature. I have always regretted that I had moved from Vancouver, WA to Juneau, AK only three months before the eruption. I returned two years after the eruption, but I missed out on all the excitement. When the mountain blew its top, a part of me went with it.

Getting There

From Interstate 5 at Woodland, take the exit for State Highway 503. Drive past Lake Merwin and Yale Lake. Then just after the Swift Reservoir viewpoint, turn left on forest road 83. Follow the signs to Climber's Bivouac, which involves a right turn onto forest road 830.

Red Tape

Please read thoroughly this page from the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument for information about obtaining permits to climb Mt. St. Helens. A permit is required above 4800' on the mountain. I will not attempt to reproduce all of the red tape requirements on this page. The link above leads to the definitive source of this information.

When To Climb

St. Helens is best climbed during the permit season, with optimal conditions occuring from May through September.

Additional information posted by John: However, don't let winter prevent you from hiking up this stratovolcano. St. Helens is popular from February to early-summer for snowshoe and ski / snowboard summits. A bonus is that you'll get away from the permit quota hassle though you will need a WA or OR Sno-Park permit if you are parking at the Marble Mountain Sno-Park. Check the Books section for Dan Nelson's "Snowshoe Routes : Washington" or Amar Andalkar's Ski Mountaineering and Climbing Site for additional info.

Additional comment posted by ben: Climbing in the winter also means that you can avoid the scree and ash that is the bane of a summer climb - two steps up, one step backsliding.


Please read this page from the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument for information about camping near the mountain.

Mountain Conditions

Click here for current weather information.

External Links

Additions and Corrections

[ Post an Addition or Correction ]
Viewing: 1-12 of 12    
jeffreykingUntitled Comment

Hasn't voted

The Climber's Bivouac has somewhat of a noteriety for being one big party on evenings during the summer. If you plan on getting some sleep and want an early start, I recommend camping about 100 yards down the approach road or perhaps off the Ptarmigan Trail.
Posted Jul 15, 2002 12:02 pm
millsb40Untitled Comment


Hasn't voted

Measurements taken by GPS stations recently placed on Mt. St. Helens show the lava dome is expanding and earthquakes continue yet more frequent. Odds are, this Mountain will be closed to climbing for a while...

Update 07-12-06. The Mountain will be re-opening to climbing, see the Gifford Pinchot web page http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/recreation/mount-st-helens/ for more details.
Posted Sep 29, 2004 10:30 am
mutant1Untitled Comment


Hasn't voted

A good view into the active crater is available from Goat Mountain.
Posted Oct 20, 2004 10:47 am
D SmithUntitled Comment

D Smith

Hasn't voted

Just as a side project, I recently started a Website that makes time-lapse movies of still-image Web Cams in the PNW and abroad. Mt. Saint Helens is a really fun one to watch when it's letting off steam:


(click on previous days links if nothing interesting shows up initially.)

Let me know what you think! (still a work in progress...)

Posted Feb 9, 2005 12:28 pm
Bob BoltonUntitled Comment

Bob Bolton

Hasn't voted

Awesome Dave!! Thanks a million. I'll make a new section on the main page and include the link. Will this thing automatically adjust for changing daylight hours?

Posted Feb 9, 2005 9:40 pm
D SmithUntitled Comment

D Smith

Hasn't voted

That's feature is "in the works"...right now I just have a cron job run from 9 to 5 PST -- works well for St. Helens in Winter, but not summertime or European cams.
Posted Feb 10, 2005 12:04 am

Hasn't voted

Permits are now issued exclusively on line. A confirmation is emailed to you and you stop in at Jack's where you sign in and recieve your climbing permit.
Posted Jun 12, 2007 8:21 pm
Bob BoltonRe: Permits

Bob Bolton

Hasn't voted

Thanks Angela - you're right, I need to update that information. -Bob
Posted Jun 12, 2007 10:21 pm
RedwicPermit Pickup Location...


Voted 10/10

After ordering a climbing permit online, the receipt needs to be taken to Lone Fir Resort (in Cougar, WA) to receive the actual climbing permit. As of June 6 , 2008, the Mount Saint Helens Climber's Register was moved to the Lone Fir Resort. The Lone Fir Resort is located on State Route 503 in the town of Cougar, WA at 16806 Lewis River Rd. Phone (360) 238-5210.

The Climber's Register is self-service and is located outside the Lone Fir Resort. For your safety, please be sure to sign in and sign out at the register.

Posted Aug 30, 2008 12:45 pm
Bob BoltonRe: Permit Pickup Location...

Bob Bolton

Hasn't voted

Thanks -- appreciate the note! I changed the text to reference the Lone Fir Resort and included a link to their website. The other links on the page will lead to the pickup location. That should suffice I'm thinking. -Bob
Posted Sep 3, 2008 2:28 am
SummiteerGreat beginner climb


Voted 8/10

Not the toughest climb but very good for the beginner. I would recommend climbing it in early spring as the snowy views are much better for pictures. Also, in the summer, the volcanic dust can be a bit unbearable.
Posted Aug 19, 2015 12:09 pm
peladobotonTalk with the park folks....


Voted 10/10

.....for road info. Bivouac was closed and had to take the Worm route. No big deal, but adding a couple miles on either end can make a difference.
Posted May 25, 2016 1:10 pm

Viewing: 1-12 of 12