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.