Foggy at Marble Mtn. Snopark. We thought we'd break through the clouds but never did. Still lots of snow. Fun climb anyway. Great glissade down.
Climbed up with the mazamas. It was just a few days after mother's day, and there was no one on the mountains. Very different than just a few days before.
I've wanted to climb St. Helens for a while now and it was great to finally climb it. The weather wasn't great, windy with lots of clouds so the summit views were minimal. Lots of people with skis or snowboards, that seems like the way to go on the descent. Car to car in 8 hours are we aren't in good shape so a fit party should to be able to climb it in under eight.
Left Cougar and arrived at Marble Mountain Sno-park at about 4:30 am. It had started to drizzle but according to the forecast it was supposed to be breaking up. So we headed on up. It was drizzling and overcast and the top was in the soup. But we pushed on and when it closed in at about 7000' or so the drizzling rain turned to snow. Pushed on to the summit in a white out. Couldn't see anything on top...figured that since we hit this lip looking thing with nice white snow and nothing beyond that it was probably the crater lip. Very disappointing that we weren't able to see inside the crater to see the lava dome or anything. That and it was just wet and crappy all day...but hey a new experience. The day before was stunning...no clouds in the sky, people in the lakes and reservoirs on the way up to Cougar in shorts and t-shirts boating and swimming. Total of 11 hours on the route...eight up (we stopped a few times) and three down with some glissading.
Picked up Karl at o'dark thirty and got up to Jack's to sign in. Missed the turn to the trailhead the first time but ran into a small herd of elk on the road before we turned around. Started up at 5:50 am from the Marble Mtn Snopark. Easy pickings through the forest to Chocolate Falls. Hiked up the snow to where the rocks ran out and donned snowshoes as it was getting icy. (I did not bring crampons, dumb mistake.)
Was simple enough up to the point where the route meets Monitor Ridge. Then it got to about 25-30 degree icy with small icy chickenheads bumping up so the footing was something to pay attention to. We gained Monitor Ridge and then I started traversing over the snowfield towards the true summit. Got over to the ridge where it drops down and this time of year it was steeper snow/ice and all I had were snowshoes. Plus, by this time it was really blowing (although sunny). We headed up to the traditional summit spot instead and stood there taking photos trying not to get blown over. We guessed the winds were like 40-50 mph. Was beauthiful in the morning with temps in the 40's and sunny. Up top it was 28 degrees with 50 mph winds so we didn't spend too much time up there.
Came back down and the descent back down the ridge looked too iffy for my MSR snowshoes so I started reclimbing and traversing a bowl but just went around in a big circle. Karl had crampons and headed back down the way we came but it took me forever to wind my way back down to the Worm Flows route. Once back on the right route (an hour later) it was too sketchy for snowshoes and Karl graciously let me use one of his crampons. It was maybe 25 degree ice but I ended up downclimbing it and kicking steps in until we realized there was softer snow to our left. I misstepped a few times and actually had to self-arrest which bruised my right side and some fingers up. Otherwise it would have been an icy bobsled run down a few thousand feet. Anyway, it took forever to get down but we ended up with the traditional Jack's burgers for dinner.
Hmm, maybe I might want to stop thinking of this one as a hike and take the crampons next time when I'm at 8000 feet on a volcano in February, eh?
Had a great climb with Brian Jenkins up the Worm flows route. Snow was firm consolidated pack to 6500' where the rain from several days prior had turned to ice. Broke the crampons out and walked to the top. My guess, 50mph sustained winds at the summit. A bit treacherous climbing down with the ice cover till about 6000' where the snow had softened to "cream of corn". Broke out the snowshoes and floated back to the car.