A lot of people at the Marble Mount Parking lot the night before, around 50 cars or so. I think close to 200 people had permits for 04/13/14. I started climbing at 0330hrs to get ahead of the crowd. I think I was the first one to get to the true summit for the day. Beautiful morning with great views.
Worm Flows route, nice glissade down.
Generally a beautiful day. The climb up was fun, and a bit easy. However- i do remember the descent being a bitch
I had unfinished business with this mountain after getting blown off of the Worm Flows route in the worst white-out I've ever experienced. This trip was wild, too.
I car camped at Climber's Bivouac, and was on the trail at 5:15. I hit treeline in no time, and spent half an hour or so waiting out an absolutely gnarly lightning storm. After I began ascending, I noticed a gorgeous double rainbow off to climber's left; I hoped this would be a good omen. *Just* prior to sunrise, I took a series of the most amazing pictures I've ever taken of Rainier. I had to stop once to wait out a torrential downpour for about 10 - 15 minutes, and at the Plate Boundary Observatory Station I had to wait out winds that kept picking me up and knocking me down.
Once the winds subsided, I hauled ass as fast as one does at this altitude towards the summit ridge. I've heard people say that the traverse over to the true summit is loose and dangerous- well yeah, it's an active volcano. However, it's not as bad as advertised, and it's worth the trip. I had the true summit to myself for 30 - 45 minutes before the next group arrived. I ended up being the unofficial "official" photographer for the next 10 people or so that made the trip to the true summit.
The views to the north east were obscured by low clouds, but the views in all other directions were stunning. I booked it back down the trail and managed to make it home for the Seahawks game that afternoon. What a great, glorious day!
Route: Monitor Ridge
We decided to wait out permit season on this one, and it was totally worth the wait. We lucked out with a great, clear weather day (except for some high winds that tried to blow our tent away). The climb itself, even in December snow, is a pretty easy one along Monitor Ridge, but because it's St. Helens, you still feel like you're tackling some huge alpine monstrosity. We needed crampons a bit at the end, but more for peace of mind than anything else. Oh, and the rim cornicing at the summit was scary, so be careful if you go in late season...
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.