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 here...

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.

Click this link to view a profile of the trail on a topographic map, with a 3D rendering here.  Click on the thumbnails in order to view the pictures full size.

Getting 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 checking permits...

Getting reading at the Sno-Park parking lot...

In 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 group 20 minutes out of the parking lot, shedding a layer...

In 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...

Tyler and Kelly make their way out through the clouds above the trees...

Rest 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 route visible...
Alex took this shot of me as I make my way out of the clouds just short of the seismic station.
I took this shot of Alex with Monitor Ridge in the background...
As Gee heads up to the seismic station, I snapped this with Mt. Adams in the background...

Alex rests above the clouds at a seismic monitoring station...

The group rests at a seismic station...

At 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 this shot 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 me, a close-up, and then a more wide angle...  I returned the favor for Jim, a close-up and wide-angle...

Our group at the summit rim...

Our group from at the crater rim, taken from the true summit...

The valley below... During 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...

A look at the valley below during our decent...

The 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.

Mt. St. Helens as viewed from the Cougar River on the way out...

Back to Tom in the mountains...

 

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