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Ascent of Mount Saint Helens on 2018-05-18

Climber: Denise Mclellan

Date:Friday, May 18, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Saint Helens
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:8333 ft / 2539 m

Ascent Trip Report

Took snow shoes and crampons but did not use as there was soft walkable snow throughput with no ice.

Lucky breaks in cloud on summit with moderate wind on summit. There was cloud in the valley below and cloud on the summit for most of the day. Cloud swirled around on the route. This meant the snow didn’t soften too much. The snow started within the woods. Route finding on descent slightly challenging in cloud- but it was perfect conditions for bum- sliding with many chutes, not all going to forest path to car park. Old overtrousers would have been useful.

Started from Sno Park (Marble) as climbers bivouac route closed due to snow. No rangers present but most displaying permits. Huge tarmac car park with pit toilets and wild camping opportunities in woods but no water. Access via wide gently ascending tarmac route 21km from Cougar. At Cougar there is a petrol station, small shop and campsites ( we stayed at Lone Fir- grassy pitches).

Footprints all go to the rim- with huge snowy cornice- and all we saw stopped there before descent- some on skis or snowboards. We continued around the rim, with just a few old footprints, over a false summit and to the high point, which took c 40 mins. Again there is a large cornice. The cloud briefly lifted to give us a view of the rim, into the crater and down to the cloud filled valley.

5 h 20 min to crater rim, 6 hrs to true summit. 3 h 15 down excluding a lunch stop.

There’s no technical climbing. Obviously snow conditions vary. The initial walk through the woods is on a wide well marked path, partly firm snow. Then you cross lava fields , sparsely signposted ‘wormflows climbing route’. The path is obvious. Then, leaving the occasional pines, the route climbs steeply on a lava ridge, rocky and gravelly underfoot. There are alternative descent routes in adjacent snow gullies. You reached a seismic monitoring station with solar panel. Thereafter the route is a snow climb, firm and soft for use. Initially quite steep then the angle lessens.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Ski Poles



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