Summer day in the winter! Wind picked up a little halfway up, but at the top there was not a breeze at all and completely sunny. The footholes were consistent for the most part, and we ditched our snowshoes halfway up and just used hiking boots. We skiied down, but this proved extremely difficult with the variable snow conditions. The sticky snow was catching our edges, and the steepness of the slopes made our intermediate skills look quite elementary. I would wait for fresh snow before trying to ski down, unless you're comfortable in the Cascade Cement. Although, it did prove to be a quick descent (1.5 hour).
Climbed the Worm Flows route with an overnighter just above timberline. Hike up from snow park to timberline was in perfect weather - the evening was calm and clear as well. The trail (Swift Creek #244) to timberline is like a highway - tons of people, well beaten. Weather still held well on Sunday morning - better than our June trip on S. Sister. Clouds moved in as we climbed the final section along Monitor - wind started pounding away; vis. dropped. Bad weather followed us all the way down. Snow-shoed all the way up (good snow - too soft for walking; perfect for snowshoeing) - no need for crampons (that day); kept ice ax handy on the way down. Several parties (+1 lone skier) were seen on the summit approach that day.
The hardest part of this climb for our group was getting the permit. The lottery that weekend was harsh. There were like 100 people trying to get passes and of course most were turned away. We were lucky. But knowing this, I would always make a reservation way in advance and not hassle with the whole lottery scene in at Jack's Restaurant. On the other hand, if you don't have a reservation, go anyway and risk it. There is so much to see and climb out there, it is worth it.
The summit in my opinion was awesome. We had great weather and clear skies. There was little wind, so the crashing of rocks falling from the rim onto the youngest glacier in N. America was geological music to my ears.
The sights are amazing as well. It is a view into the bowels of the Earth! Some of the rocks under your feet are only 22 years old! The vents of sulfur and bubbling ponds of mud in the crater... It was the closest I have ever felt to the world beneath the crust that we are so accustomed to climbing around on. Granted, this is all taking place hundreds of feet below you (straight down) when you are on the rim, but the perspective from the summit makes it even so much more sublime. It is a wonder of nature. You are looking into the core of a mountain...
There was a whole lot of snow on the route this year. The snow started before we were even out of the trees. It was a beautiful day and the first time I summited a "real" mountain.
The Monitor Ridge route in the summer is a non-technical, long walk-up; but lots of fun. The rangers have done a nice job marking the route. Snow-covered slopes should provide for easier climbing earlier in the season because the loose scree up high on the mountain isn't the most fun. The views are some of the best around. Since Mt. St. Helens lies on the far western portion of the crest, the view that awaits is very rewarding because none of the nearby volcanoes are abscured by another. Looking down into the crater and north towards Mt. Rainier is simply awe-inspiring. A climb to the summit is a must for any avid hiker.
It was the first weekend that climbing was again allowed after the eruption. The weather was unseasonably warm, and scantily clad climbers of both genders were in abundance. Within two weeks the new and generally hated quota system would begin, so 100s were taking advantage of this golden opportunity. The first look into the crater at the dome and of the crater rim were truly amazing sights. I had only climbed the mountain once prior to the eruption, unfortunately, on June 15, 1975, using the Forsythe Glacier route. The post-eruption climbs are not as satisfying, but St. Helens still offers a great opportunity for conditioning climbs and early-season fun. And that view into the crater never gets old. I've climbed it several more times, including a 3-generation effort by my dad, myself, and my son Ryan in 1993. My dad was 78 at the time, and Ryan was 14.
Hiked/climbed the Monitor Ridge Route as a day trip. Round-trip took about 9 hours or so, with about an hour stay on top. Did this trip in August, so there wasn't any snow to ascend; only a WHOLE LOT of loose scree! The views from top, of Mt Adams, Mt Rainier, Mt Hood, etc., were simply AWESOME though! Would definitely do this trip again, but would probably do it earlier in the spring, so that travel on snow could be done.
Climbed this trying to get one more in this year. Weather at the start was gloomy but just before timberline I hiked out above the clouds. Awesome blue sky and a white summit ahead. About 500 yards from the summit a storm blew in in a matter of seconds. Debated whether to finish up but I was so close, I dashed to the top, took a crappy photo and glissaded down in almost white-out conditions. Got kinda dicey at times as there is a large valley on the right and the left side of the ridge is a steep dropoff. There were maybe 15 people on this route the whole day and only about 7 summitted so I am glad I waited until winter to do this one.
We climbed St. Helens the weekend before permit season, so ended up adding an extra 10 miles of hiking through snow to the climber's trailhead. Definately worth taking skis for that next time. Once we got up on the ridge, the snow conditions were perfect for cramponing, if a bit icy for skiing.
On our way down, I was surprised to put my foot through a thigh-width hole in the snow - not sure if it was a bonna fide crevasse or not. I also vividly remember the sound of the ice from our crampons tinkling down over the re-freezing surface as we headed down during sunset. A beautiful, if long, day.
I would definately do this climb in the winter to avoid trudging up the ash and scree that's out in the summer.
This was to be our first group climb of the year and I looked forward to summiting after getting avalanched off of Mt. Whitney.
We met at the parking lot at work and drove up to Washington in separate cars. Luckily it was early enough in the season that we didn't have to fight for permits and we were soon off to the trailhead. Unfortunately, the climber's bivi wasn't plowed so we were forced to start our day at 2700'. We set up our tents pretty much in the parking lot and got an early alpine start the next morning. Weather was excellent as we moved along through the night. As far as we could tell there was only one headlamp ahead of us. The four of us stayed pretty close to each other until Kevin and Rob started exercising their benefit of training and pulled away from us.
As we neared the final push to the summit, the weather started getting crappy, with the wind picked up with light rain/snow mix starting to pelt us. The lone climber ahead of us passed us on his way down describing the wind at the top as nasty. Shortly after, Kevin and Rob summited and I tried to get there before they came down but they had already started back down. As we passed, I tried to convince them to go back up the 40' , so we could get a picture, but they would have no part in it due to the weather.
As I reached the summit, I had a little time to look around before my uncle joined me on top. I checked the cornice dimensions and then laid down to peer over the lip into the crater. What an incredible sight. This has to be the most interesting summit that I have done to date just due to the massive destruction that resulted from the eruption.
After about 10 minutes, my uncle joined me. We took a few photos and continued to get blasted by the weather. We decided that we had better get going since the weather was deteriorating. The upper slope was pretty much wind scoured so we were forced to walk down in our crampons until we rounded the bend. I was sick of walking and decided to risk the fast descent via glissading. Fortunately, the snow quickly softened up lower down and we enjoyed some great glissading. I was descending so fast that my ears began to pop.
The final hike out seemed to go on forever. The weather had turned out to be just a quick squall and it was getting hot as we passed many people climbing up to who knows where. After what seemed like eternity we finally made the trailhead and drove home after getting some lunch at Jack's
I summitted in driving sleet and wind after climbing from my camp at the base of the lava flow. I was in Washington to climb Rainier, but decided to head to St. Helens for a warm-up climb and to enjoy the views of Rainier. So after a 6 hour flight and 3 hour drive from Seattle, I scored my permit at Jack's and was on my way to the mountain.
When I got to the parking area at Climber's Bivouac, I decided there was no way I was going to set up my tent in a parking lot. So I threw my gear together and started up the trail in the fading daylight. I reached the base of the lava flow at around 8:30, just as the sun was setting, and was glad to see that 2 other guys had also come up in search of more pleasant camping. We chatted for a while and then I headed to bed, hoping for an early start to beat the crowds.
The wind picked up during the night and I learned that the volcanic ash is not a very good medium for tent stakes. I woke at 6AM and started for the summit after stashing my gear behind some trees. I caught up with my two camp mates and was happy to climb with them since conditions were deteriorating. When we reached the upper pumice slopes, we were being pelted by sleet and hail and the wind was ripping at about 40 mph. We took some pictures at the summit and started down immediately. No views of Rainier as I'd hoped. On the way down, we passed lots of people, most of whom were turning around and heading down.
After lunch with my new friends at Jack's, I made the drive back to Seattle and caught the Rainier Shuttle. I hope to get back to Mount St. Helens at some point to climb in better weather and enjoy the views from the top.
Started from the Climbers' Bivouac in fog. New, wet snow on the tent that morning.
Packed skis to the summit, eventually poking our heads above the clouds at around 6000'. Enjoyed a nice run down the mountain, with only about 1 mile between consistent snow and the car.
Climbed the standard spring and winter route up the Worm Flows from the snow park. It was a super day on the 15th year anniversary weekend of the eruption. Brilliant weather and only 13 hours round-trip from the car! :-) Solo. But met up with Locke and his dad and Elise and Peter (a great bunch of folks) on the summit and had a great glissade down. Then we ate Mexican. Decided to move to Washington state that weekend. Then did it.
This was our (Alison and I) second attempt at summiting this once perfectly shaped volcanoe. We rounded up a few friends (Joseph and Kieran) and headed up the night before and stayed at Marblemount. Not until the next day did we out that the road to the Climbers Bivouac was actually open a few days before we got there! So we shot down to Jacks at 6am and picked up our permits (you must have permits if you travel above 4800 feet). Once at the dry trailhead we headed up the trail. Very low level grades through old growth forest, you weave you way through what you would expect to see on just about every other puget sound trail until you get to the first clearing that offers views to the south and to the East with Majestic Mt Adams showing off.
Once out of the tress and above the timberline you get site of a small peak that literally a large bunch of boulders. This is a good opportunity to set a marker or mark a waypoint on your GPS (reason to be explained later). From here you can see the many false summit ridges and pieces of the upper mountain.
The trail is marked with large post that are easy to follow, but it is always good to mark your trail in the snow with whatever markers you brought. From this point we had snowfields or the rocky ridges that we could ascend, and we went back and forth, but the ridges were difficult at times because of the Pumice Stone and all the loose rock and gravel. Make sure to have the rest of you team follow a little further behind than normal as there is plenty of rockfall that is caused by ascending these types of ridges. The snowfields had plenty of melting time so it was a little sketchy near the edges of the rocks where they met the snowfields, but other than that, the only other dangers were the snow crevasses that we spotted quite often on the way up. It is a good idea to mark these areas as you want to choose the right glissade path for the way down. After all, this is one of the many fantastic Glissade Routes in the Northwest.
We did not encounter hardly anyone on the trail this day, except for a few skiiers, and about 5 others ascending. We only saw 3 folks summit during the time we were there.
The snow was really yucky, yet holding quite well. Almost all conditions of snow were met that day, as we encountered some ice near the summit that was hard to get your boots firmly placed, so always remember to bring your crampons in the winter/spring months. Ice Axes are recommended by the Park, and I would say they should be required.
Did the whole thing in sneakers and a t-shirt, although most people looked at me like I was an idiot (but I don't think many people would have been uncomfortable in sneakers). The ice axe came in handy for glisading and for taking the rim of the volcano around to the peak. Snow was really soft even in the morning (I started at 6am).
When I attempted St Helens two years ago, I was thwarted by bad weather and horrendous postholing. This time the conditions were great. I spent over an hour on top admiring the surrounding giant volcanoes and gazing into the crater (and waiting for Ryle). Glissaded most of the way down.