Here are some pictures I took when Alex, Jim, Tyler, Kelly, Gee and I
climbed Mt. St. Helens... This trip was the idea of Jim and Alex, who
asked me if I wanted to come along. Thwarted on my only previous attempt
in 1989 due to weather, I said sure. For current climbing conditions, click
After a brief stop in Cougar to pay our climber's fees, and the parking fee,
we made the parking lot at around 8:30 in the morning. Normally the climb
starts at Climber's Bivouac below Monitor Ridge. Due to excessive
snowfall, that trailhead was still under 12 feet of snow.
This forced us to start at the Marble Mount Sno-Park, adding about a mile and a
half, and 1100 feet of vertical to the climb (12 miles round trip, 5600 feet of
vertical). This area is also the
staging area for snowmobiles, which also use the area through an extensive
network of trails.
Once we made the final approach for the summit, we realized the
snowmobiles weren't restricted to just the area below 4800 feet. The area
above that elevation is called the impact
zone, where climbers are required to buy permits to
enter. Some sleds were using the trail on the Worm Flows route to also
make the summit. While most sleds stayed over at the top of the trail, we
did see one make the traverse around the rim cornice to the true summit.
Incredulously, we also saw a sled motor down the trail without its rider, who
was running after it! The sled ran down about 500 feet of vertical before
veering off and crashing into a ravine.
Not knowing whether the sleds were supposed to be in the impact
zone, I contacted the National Volcanic Monument office to comment. When
the multiple use plan was approved in the middle '80s, the sleds were not
perceived to be a problem. In my note to the NVM, I suggested the plan be
revisited... To make your views known, email
the NVM here.
this link to view a profile of the trail on a topographic map, with a 3D
Click on the thumbnails in order to view the pictures full size.
ready... - Alex
took this shot as we prepared to get ready at the Marble Mount Sno-Park.
We made our accent first thing on a Saturday morning, so the lot was
pretty empty. Another lot, closer to the trailhead provided a
staging area for the snowmobiles. A ranger was very active
the woods... - About
20 minutes out of the trailhead, some members of our team shed
layers. I snapped this shot of Gee and the rest of the team
under the misty blanket of clouds. Filtered sunlight provides
a nice element of mood to our hike. We managed to hit the
trailhead a little after nine in the morning...
the clouds... - As
we made our way into the impact zone, above 4800 feet, the clouds
thickened. Actually, this provided some nice cover from the
sun, which otherwise would have been pretty warm, making the snow
really soft. At least during this part of the climb, we had
good snow for steps. I took this shot of Tyler and Kelly as
they made their way up the route...
at a seismic station... -
At around 6,000 feet, we made our
way out of the clouds to some great views of Mt. Adams to the
east, and Mt. Hood to the south. Just above the clouds, we
found a rock outcrop with a monitoring station powered by a solar
array. Alex and Jim made the stop first... I took the
top shot of Alex as he kicked back so our group could hook back
up. I also took the lower picture of the team as we waited
for Gee so she could catch up. Everyone was within around 15
minutes of each other. After Gee made it up, we rested for
another 10, and then moved on. From here, the rest of the
the summit... -
Around 3 o'clock, Alex, Jim
and myself made the crater rim. About 100 feet below the
rim, the wind picked up, putting a chill into the air, even in the
bright sun. We were fortunate to have another group snap the
summit picture of our group - the top thumbnail to the
right. Not being at the true summit, Jim and I traversed
about 100 yards west to the highest point. From there, I
snapped a picture of our group at the rim, showing the true
perspective of the size of the crater rim - the lower thumbnail.
After about an hour on the summit, we started our descent...
|We ended up at the summit rim
actually a bit lower than the true summit. Alex snapped
of the true summit...|
|While technically dormant,
St. Helens stills shows signs of life as she sleeps. I
took this picture
of the crater lava dome, the plug that is still slowly
growing... While too small to photograph well, there are
still several small vents exhausting visible vapor. Mt.
Rainier stands in the background.|
|Using the panorama mode of
his digital camera, Alex snapped this super
wide angle of the crater rim and lava dome...|
|Jim and I hiked up to the
true summit for out summit shots... Jim took these of
close-up, and then a more
wide angle... I returned the favor for Jim, a close-up
the descent, I snapped this picture of the lower valley showing
the filtered light we traveled up in. One of the coolest
features of St. Helens is the long glissades available,
conditions permitting. Most of our team, attempted the
quick way down with mixed success. The lack of established
chutes, combined with the warm sun made for iffy
conditions. I typically avoid glissades unless the
conditions are perfect. Over the years I've found
glissading simply gets you wet, and rips up your pants - so this
descent I practiced my plunge step...
view as we leave... - All
day, I was hoping for a shot of the entire mountain for a portrait.
This was the best I could do as the deck never really burnt
off at the 5,000 foot level. This was taken from the
highway on the way out, next to the Cougar River.
Back to Tom in the mountains...