Great day on the summit of the mountain. The weather conditions were terrible all week but managed to clear up the day of our climb. There was about a foot of snow that was a little icy but softened up quickly in the morning sun. Could see Rainier, Adams, Hood, and Jefferson as well as the Northern Cascades. A great day to be on the mountain!
We originally wanted to take a few newbie climbers for their first summit, but every of them bailed at the last minute due to anxiety or scheduling. My regular climbing partner and I went up and back in 5 hours 25 minutes to see how fast we could push ourselves. He also brought his grandfather's ashes to the summit for a quick memorial and release onto the flanks of the mountain; his grandfather last summited Mt. St. Helens in the late 1970's, and was unable to return for a post-eruption summit.
I started at 7 a.m., summited at 10:45 a.m., spent 90 minutes on the rim, and was back to my car by 3:40. Having said that, one third of the way into the hike, a cloud settled onto the mountain and refused to leave. Visibility was less than 100 meters and my view of much of the ascent was mist, through which the occasional hiker appeared.
On the summit, the wind, sand, and mist were absolute: every piece of gear that I carried was coated in droplets of moisture and inundated with grit. Despite four layers of clothing, I shivered continuously on the rim and had to pull my buff over my face to stay warm and keep the sand out of my mouth. I could hear helicopters in the crater, but I couldn't see more than a few feet over the edge of the rim. I had no views at all from the summit. Still, I met some great hikers and I enjoyed every second of scrambling over the crusty boulders on the way up. Some chunks of rock looked as if only yesterday they had been ripped violently from the rocky face of the mountain and dropped where they lay, half polished stone, half twisted, sheared rock.
Going up, the wooded section is very easy. The boulder scramble is a little more work, but if you are worried about that section, you can pick your path and choose one of least resistance (steering only roughly from post to post) obviating most points of challenge. The third phase -- the scree slope -- is a little tiresome, because by that time your legs may be heavy and it's nearly a straight shot up to the summit -- there are no switchbacks to diminish the steepness of the ascent. But again, it's just a question of plodding along, a few steps at a time, as I did, after I apparently attempted to set a speed record on the most challenging route through the boulders that I could create. That wore me down and I tottered my way up the scree slope.
If that sounds somewhat encouraging, I have to add the caveat that the descent is more likely to be a genuine challenge. I carried my ice axe and snow pants, but there was no snow worth glissading, so I was relegated to walking down the scree. I slid and fell on my tail several times on the descent, mainly in the areas where the trail transitions between scree and boulders. No cataclysmic falls, but the conditions were potentially there for one. With each step on sand/scree on the way down, I found myself aiming for anything that resembled solid rock, so I could avoid another unexpected slide. My advice: be careful and allow as much time for your descent as your ascent.
Got all 17 people in our group up and had a great time, stayed in a wonderful B&B in Cougar.
Was able to snag a pass from someone who couldn't go. It was an excellent hike. Just beat some clouds that were forming to the summit and the views were great!
Worm Flows route on a good weather day with long glissades. Fun.
Snowshoed up the Worm Flows route. Attempted to ski down, which was a disaster as 1) the snow was crusty over soft stuff, so I kept plunging through with one ski but not the other, and 2) I hadn't been skiing in years and didn't really have enough confidence. Also, my legs were tired after the ten-odd hours of slogging up in the snow on snowshoes. So, not the best planning on my part! Did eventually make it down, lesson learned. Do more skiing before any more ski mountaineering trips.
Hiked before the limiting started. Had a great hike up, and snowboarded back down passing about 300 people on the descent, some of the men were in dresses for the mothers day weekend festivities.
Great sunrise views of Mt. Adams from the top.
This will have been my first Cascade volcano. This was the last weekend before the 100 permits per day cap goes into effect for the summer, and 650 permits were issued. Yeah, it was a zoo (or a party, depending on how you feel), but we beat the crowds with a 4 am start, mainly motivated by the prospect of the ski conditions being better early. It was nevertheless too soft because of a poor refreeze, but still a blast, especially up high (and there was a line of spectators - I mean, climbers - all the way up and down the mountain wooting as we skied by, which is always fun). The bottom mile or so was melted out. I wish I could have spent more time enjoying the summit; the best view is not from the highpoint, and the crater is otherworldly.
Up the Worm Flows route from Marble Mountain SnoPark... where the actual route goes above treeline was anyone's guess, folks were swarming all over the mountain. Absolutely beautiful day! Great view across the crater. I was suprised everyone else stopped at the crater rim rather than continueing on the the highpoint. Had the top all to myself!
What a day! We almost forgot is was still winter. No permit fees, no reservation fees and no quota limits, just perfect climbing conditions and a 5000 foot ski to the car. Yes all the way to the car. Perfect.
i was only 8 years old but i loved every second of it, summited via monitor ridge route!
w/ Tyler Haasch, Adam Walker and Ben Phillips. We didn't see a damn thing on the way up, but the best glissade of our lives on the way down!
Date is a guess. Sure wouldn't want to do this one when melted out, much more pleasant as a snow climb.
Great climb but super icy.
First one to the summit that day enjoyed the solitude while it lasted :)
w/ Dennis Poulin. Incredible day out!
Perfect first climb with my 13 year old. Really nice on top. Killer on the knees on the way down down climbing all the boulders but still really fun!
Thats awesome! Would you say the hike was pretty technical? Did you take crampons or an ice axe with you? I am planning to do this hike towards the end of January, do you have any advice?
Went with a group. we climbed Rainier then St,Helens. The crater rim was magnificent. the crater was still smoking. views were great. had snow the whole ascent. One of my favorites..Jim W