This was my wife and my (awkward grammar?) first mountain climb. We camped at Marble Mt. Snowpark and started the hike up a little before sunrise. I carried my 3 year old up in a kid carrier once he got tired... one hell of a summit pack. Low and ominous looking clouds on the way up gave way to clear sunshine at the top and a beautiful descent!
So this was my first real mountain to ever ascend. I'm a novice getting started later in life, but had wanted to get into hiking and climbing for some time. Growing up in the deep south, a "mountain" for me was anything over 1000 ft. Our family began working with a non-profit about 5 years ago in Portland, and since that time I've traveled to the Pacific Northwest about 3-4 times a year. Each time I went, the mountains began to tug at my heartstrings.
I'm 34 years old and have never been an extremely physically active person, but last year I managed to start hiking a bit around the Columbia River Gorge during my trips up to Portland. This transitioned into a desire to really want to challenge myself. So I determined make a climb/hike up a "real" mountain in 2011. I chose St. Helens because I wanted to start with something not too high and not technical. Since Mississippi has no mountains I began running a running program earlier this year. I completed a "Couch 2 5k" program, which then became a 10k and then a 15k. By the time this summer rolled around and I began planning my next trip up to Portland I felt confident that I'd be able to make it to the summit of St. Helens.
October 25th was an amazingly clear day! Having bought my plane tickets up to Portland for meetings six weeks in advance, and having "gambled" on the 25th to be my climb day, I was extremely blessed.
I started my day very early because I wanted to get back to Portland in time to rest before the next day's early flight home. I picked up my pass at 6AM and headed for Climbers Bivouac. The hike through the woods up to timberline seemed to pass very quickly. It was a cold, quiet morning and I just took the time to enjoy the peace and solitude of the day.
I think the thing that caught me off guard was the challenge of Monitor Ridge. It wasn't the climbing, or the ascending but the constant scurrying over boulders, being extra careful not to twist ankles, cut myself or fall and break something. While not a technical climb, it was definitely challenging. When I cleared the boulder field, I assumed the hard part was over. Then I learned about scree!
I'm not exactly sure if everything I climbed through was technically "scree" or not, but it seemed to fit the description that someone told me about. Whatever the stuff is called, for about the last 1000-1300 feet I experienced first-hand the "two-steps-forward-one-step-back" scenario that friends had warned me about. Couple this with the fact that for the first time in my life I was experiencing higher altitude than I had ever really been exposed to. I began to notice at around 7,200 ft that I was having to breath a lot harder and my body felt a little more tired. I know this is nothing for the pros out there, but it was new to me.
The last 500 ft. were hard, I'll admit, but I was very motivated by several people who were descending the summit, raving about the "amazing view".
The summit was indeed amazing! It was truly like nothing I had ever seen before. From the top it was almost crystal clear in every direction. Rainier and Adams almost looked as if I could reach out and touch them. Off in the distance I could clearly see Hood, Jefferson and South Sister. I spent about 20 minutes at the top before descending. It was cold enough and windy enough that staying too much longer would have been a bit uncomfortable.
I'll be honest and say that coming down was more challenging than going up. I had managed to ascend without so much as anything even remotely resembling a stumble. But within my first 10 minutes of descending in the ashy-rocky mixture I managed to land on my backside at least 7 or 8 times. It took some time, but I finally got my legs under me and learned to control myself a little better.
Timberline never looked so good once I finally reached it. But the real and final relief didn't come until I reached the parking lot. For some strange reason the 2 miles from Timberline back to the parking lot seemed much longer on the way back =). An even more beautiful sight was the "Burgerville" just before I got onto I-5. Well placed!
For me this was a personal victory. The motivation to climb got me off of my duff, caused me to lose 25 pounds and drove me to do something I'd never done before. I'm now running on average 25 miles per week and am already starting to plan my next climb/hike. My hope is to do South Sister and Adams in 2012 and then shoot for Hood probably in 2013. I'd eventually like to move toward some more technical climbs. Our family is looking to move to Portland probably in the next 6-7 months, so I hope to be more involved in these kinds of activities.
I hope I haven't sounded like I'm bragging. I'm just a novice at this. But I hope I can encourage anyone out there who's wanting to get up and get active and that it can be done.
We were originally planning on camping along the trail so that a friend of ours could take his time and make the summit (this was his first attempt at an actual "mountain"), but he had to drop out at the first boulder field. We left him to prepare camp while we gambled at a chance to make the summit before it got dark. We made the summit at 4:30pm and saw the sun go down as we hiked back to camp. Amazing weekend trip!
The only right way to do this one is on firm snowpack. Hell of a view from the crater, though.
Ski the corn and you will live happy
Date is a guess. Been kicking myself ever since for not taking the skis on this one.
Weather was suppose to be over 90° but instead it sprinkled for a few minutes and was cloud for more of the day. Seems like the wild fires were making visibility down to one mile. Other than the huge crowds and the lack of long distance views of other mountain the day still turned out to be great.
Tiring and exhilarating! Glad I did it. My first climb.
Monitor Ridge is a pain, but it didn't get the best of me. Clear day... awesome views up and down the Cascade Range.
My baby daughter Melinda left her camera on the wrong setting. Now we can climb it again.
Packed a snowboard up in intermittent white-out conditions. The day was quickly passing by with slow progress. Made it about 1500 ft from the rim before we turned around because of worsening weather. In the breaks in the snow it was a beautiful day.
I've now been to the crater rim twice on this mountain but have yet to touch the summit due to conditions. Too bad becuase this year I felt so strong and good at the top.
Unfortunately, on the way back to Seattle, I got food poisening and spent the next two days unable to keep food down. :( Still a great trip though.
A slow "leader" leads to a long day on the mountain....16 hours just hiking. Easily should have been the first people on top. Great day though to summit!
It was a beautiful day, I was excited to get up to the mountain. I had climbed St. Helens the year before, but was unable to summit due to weather conditions. So this year I hoped that the weather would cooperate,and it did, much to my delight. As we climbed the mountain to the point where we were able to stand amidst the clouds, my life began to change. Somewhere in that climb I found myself face to face with myself. It was just me and my breath and each step. My mind felt the clearest it ever has. There is something about climbing that brings you closer to who you are than anything else. I fell in love that day, absolute true love. I will be climbing all the remaining years of my life!
this is why we love the mountains. Welcome aboard
Despite severe avalanche dangers we pressed on to the most rewarding summit of our 3 mountain trip.The magnificent crater was steaming and gurgling in dramatic fashion. The shear size of the blast crater is just remarkable.We then glissaded down the steep slopes and now are only left with pleasant memories of a fantastic volcanoe...Jim W
Worm Flows Route- great weather, almost hot. Everyone stopped at the crater rim, but didn't make the true summit this day. I pushed on over some scarey cornices and found the true high point.
Great hike. Clouds around summit made it impossible to get close to edge but got within 200 feet.
Went up Worm Flows with maybe about a hundred other people on a gorgeous day. It was pretty windy near the top, so the traverse along the rim to the true summit (no other takers while I was there) was a bit of work.
We snowshoed up from Marble Mt. Snow Park, and took approximately 6 hours to summit. Above 6500 feet or so, we got above the clouds and had amazing views of Hood, Adams, and Rainier. A bit icy near the top, but a great day out nevertheless.