Mt St Helens (8,333ft)
January 14, 2017
Eric and Aaron
We had a one-day weather window, so drove out of Seattle at 5am Sunday morning heading south. Mt St Helens has a permit system in place in the summer, but in the winter there’s no red tape, so it’s an easy choice to climb a big mountain and get a 5,500ft ski descent when the weather is nice.
The parking lot was crowded, included a big REI guided group of snowshoers, and we got packed up and headed out by 8:45am. Unfortunately the snow had melted out near the parking lot, so we had to hike for the first 20 minutes in our ski boots with skis on our backs, but were able to put skis on after that.
It was fun skinning up to treeline, and then up the snow slopes of the worm flows route. We had to take off skis a few times to scramble up rocks, and eventually at the 4-hr mark caught up to a large group of other climbers.
We crossed a rime-ice ridge and were just below the crater rim by 1:30pm. At that point I split off to tag the true summit, while Aaron joined the crowd of about 40 other climbers going up to the false summit at the crater rim. I tagged the true summit 15 minutes later, and was surprised to only see one set of footprints leading up there. It looked like all the other 40 people were satisfied with the false summit.
I skied from just below the summit back across, then hiked up to meet Aaron at the false summit. We had an excellent view of the surrounding volcanoes, seeing Glacier, Rainier, Adams, Hood, and Jefferson. We left the rim around 2:45 pm and had fun ski back in excellent snow conditions. We reached the end of the snow in just 45 minutes, and then walked shortly back to the car, ready to head back to Seattle.