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Ascent of Mount Saint Helens on 2012-05-25

Climber: Bri Wilson

Others in Party:Ariel DeSmet
Date:Friday, May 25, 2012
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Saint Helens
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:6950 ft / 2118 m

Ascent Trip Report

Pulled into TH at 9:30pm, tent camping is permitted in the Snow-Park pretty much anywhere. The lot was generally empty, with just about 4 other cars/groups present.

Began hike at 5:45am from Swift Ski Trail (#244) at the Marble Mountain Snow-Park parking lot. At 6am, realized Ariel had forgot his sunglasses, which was an immediate turn around. Sped up and new start time at 6:15am. We made fast time, and got to the treeline in around 1.5 - 2 hrs. The trail to the treeline (4800ft) is very straight forward. Some areas were less obvious, but old boot paths and some flags helped point out the correct route. At the point it says to follow the west ridge. In deep snow the ridge is not super obvious all the way to the summit. We follower snow slopes up to around 6900 feet, which were being traveled by one other party with skis ahead of us. It appeared to be in the right direction, though, as we spotted the "weather station" to our left.

At around 5000 ft we ran into a group of two with only trekking poles, light hiking boots, and no additional gear. The wind started to pick up around this elevation. This group made the wise decision to head back down. Ariel and I continued to head up, despite the slightly eastern headwind, as we had crampons and axes. As we reached the slopes, wind increased dramatically and it appeared a storm system was moving it. It was still fairly high, however so we continued to move forward. Ice axes were necessary at this point, because of the wind. I estimate the gusts were above 50mph, as they would have blown me over without being firmly planted. At around 6800 feet snow became firm, and it looked like crampons may be necessary a little higher. Because of the distance I put turn around time between 12pm-1pm. It was around 1045am at 6900 feet. It would have normally been easily manageable, but the wind was making travel significantly slower and slightly more risky. The storm system was looking a little nastier as well, so I made the call to turn us around with the agreement of my partner.

The way down was significantly easier, as the wind helped push us down the mountain. I noticed 2 hikers to my left, traversing on the east ridge system. Park rangers strongly discourage this route...and I can see why. There are significantly more rock segments on a steep, slanting slope...a fall without a helmet would be a bad idea. They may have been more sheltered from the wind, though.

Ariel got to try his first glissade! I'm glad for the soft snow...better for learning with one's axe! It got pretty warm by the time we were in the trees. We walked by chocolate falls, well, noticed it on the way down...not exactly running right now. Back to the parking lot by 130pm and ready to head home by 2pm! Descent was much faster with glissading, obviously! :)

Weather looked like it was getting nicer as we were driving out of the park, but an hour later a giant thunder/lighting/rain storm hit. Good call on the turn around...
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3800 ft / 1158 m
    Distance:16 mi / 25.7 km
    Route:Worm Flows- Winter Route
    Trailhead:Marble MT Snow-Park  3150 ft / 960 m
    Grade/Class:Low
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe
    Weather:Cool, Extremely Windy, Overcast
Very high winds starting at 4800 ft, increased w/elevation
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:4 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:2 Hours 30 Minutes



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