Ascent of Pre-eruption Mount Saint Helens on 1975-06-15

Climber: Bob Bolton

Others in Party:Jim Dixon
Steve Polimeni
Larry Smith
Jeanne Smith
Larry Gohl
Date:Sunday, June 15, 1975
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Pre-eruption Mount Saint Helens
    Elevation:9677 ft / 2949 m

Ascent Trip Report

The designated climb leader was Steve Polimeni, but the true leader was Jim Dixon. It was very cold for June, and part way up the mountain we hit the freezing mark and everything above was frozen solid. We climbed the Forsythe Glacier route and enjoyed finding the route among the crevasses.

Our route through a section of the Forsythe Glacier.

Upon reaching the summit plateau we had to hike nearly on the level directly into the wind. We kept our ropes attached, but walked side-by-side, causing the rope to sail between us and add to the wind resistance.

The view toward Mt. Hood from the summit of pre-eruption Mt. St. Helens. Mt. Jefferson can be seen to the right.

After summitting, we realized we had to get out of the wind, so we headed for the Dogs Head route for the descent. Jim Dixon and Larry Gohl (Jim's son-in-law) and one or two others had carried skis to the summit, and after we ate lunch in a somewhat sheltered place they donned their skis and started down through the crevasse field on the upper slopes of the Dogs Head route. With everything frozen solid, they had to use their edges and side-slip instead of skiing normally. The crevasses were small enough that they could span them with their skis, which were much longer in those days than they are now. Even at his slow pace, Jim was still considerably faster than the hikers, so he was the first to get below the ice. But when I caught up with him at the top of the Dogs Head his legs were totally shot from the pounding they took side-slipping over all those ice nubbins. He feared that he might not be able to ski on down. Meanwhile I got into the famous Dogs Head glissade track and headed down. What a hoot that was. The trough was so deep that at times I was unable to reach up to the surface of the snow with my extended arms. The glissade was great fun, one of the best, if not the best of my life. At the bottom I got up and looked back up toward the Dogs Head, and watched as Jim and Larry skied a figure 8 pattern down the face.

Looking back up at the peak after our descent.

Less than 5 years later the mountain blew its top, and of course I have always been grateful that I had taken advantage of this opportunity when I did.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Crampons, Rope
    Weather:Cold, Extremely Windy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Route:Forsythe Glacier
Descent Statistics
    Route:Dogs Head

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