Elevation: 8,366 Feet
Elevation Gain: 5,700 Feet
Distance: 12 Miles
Gear: Ice axe, crampons
After weeks of anticipation, I finally got to accomplish my goal of climbing to the top of Mt St Helens. At 8,365 ft, it’s the second tallest mountain I’ve ever climbed. The trip was a success and everyone in our group made it up to the top. Here’s a full trip report of the days events:
We started the day off by meeting at 5AM at the climber registration office (the Lone Fir Resort). We then made the quick drive up to the Marble Mountain Sno-Park, which is where the Worm Flows winter trail begins.
After getting all our gear packed up, we hit the trail around 6:30 and started on our way up. Here’s a picture of the beginning of our hike:
My pack was fairly heavy considering I was carrying a gallon and a half of water, snowshoes, plenty of food, and some extra clothes and gear. Luckily the pack didn’t bother me at all one the way up and became much lighter on the way down.
The first few miles of the trail were fairly gradual. The snow was fairly hard so we didn’t have to wear the snowshoes at all. The sky was overcast and there was a lot of fog so we didn’t see much other than trees on both sides of us.
After hiking roughly 2.5 miles, we hit the tree line and that’s where the real hike began. Here’s a nice shot of where the trees started to fade out:
The incline of the trail got much, much steeper the further up we got. Luckily the sun started to come out and we were able to get a glimpse of where we were heading.
I never would have guessed that it would be so fricken hot on the side of the mountain. It felt like Phoenix in the middle of summer. Everyone in the group applied sunscreen at least 5 times throughout the hike. I still managed to get some nice sunburn on my neck and face.
People aren’t kidding when they say that snow can blind you. I took my glasses off a few times and couldn’t see anything. Luckily I was wearing some ridiculous looking glacier glasses that make me look like a bug.
As we approached the top, I turned around and realized we had climbed above the clouds. Here’s what the view looked like near the top:
Right after I took those pictures, a bunch of clouds rolled in and killed the visibility. They got so thick that we could hardly see in any direction and following the foot tracks became very difficult. We ended up having to take turns punching foot holes for everyone to walk in. Luckily the clouds went away as we got close to the top and we could see a group of people standing at the top.
The last 500 feet were the hardest part of the hike, it felt like we were so close yet so far away. Approximately 8 hours after we started, we made it to the very top of the crater rim. This is the view I got as I first stepped foot on the rim:
The clouds eventually moved and we were able to see Mt Rainier off in the distance:
Here’s a quick video from the top:
Once we finished our lunch, we made our way down the mountain back to the car. Luckily we were able to glissade (slide) for awhile, which really cut down on the time it took to get back down. I wore a garbage bag so I wouldn’t tear my pants and it seemed to work well. Except it kept filling up with snow and looked like a diaper since it was white and I made wholes for my legs.
Overall, it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I’m so glad I did a lot of conditioning otherwise it would of kicked my ass. Now I just need to figure out what mountain to climb next.