Mt. Saint Helens

April 11, 2004

Emily and I drove down to Mt. St. Helens late Saturday night. We purchased our permits ($15 each) at Jacks Restaurant and Store over the phone earlier in the day, and they left them for us in a lockbox outside of the store so that we could pick them up after hours.

Soon after we started driveing up the road towards the climbers biviouc I saw some snow on the road and decided to muscle through it. I think I heard Emily say, "Stop Dave! What the hell are you doing??" but I was too busy doing extreme driving to take notice.

It turned out that it wasn't just a little patch of snow, it was the start of the snow covered un-plowed road.
It was after midnight, and we were looking forward to going to sleep, but the night had other activites planned for us.

Emily working on digging the car out.

Morning came, and we weren't sure exactly how far along the road we were able to drive the night before, or how far we were going to have to ski in. After sleeping past the alarm, we had a brief wrestle with the idea of driving over to the Sno Park and starting there, but we decided to just start skiing down the snow covered road instead.

Heading down the seemingly endless road. The distant mountain can be seen in the notch in the trees.

About 6 miles later we arrived at the climbers bivouc, slathered on some sunscrean, and continued skiing up. It was getting really warm.

A view of the mountain from the climbers bivouc.

We followed a lone skin track down a road, and then into a gully. Once we worked out way up to timberline we were more or less at the base of Monitor Ridge.

From here we could see the worm flows route, so we made a rising traverse over to it, skinning some and booting up some steeper slopes until we reached the standard route at about 6300 ft.

Emily hikeing up just before we joined up with monitor ridge.

The worm flows was lower angle and better for skinning. We then switch backed our way up onto the upper reaches of moniter ridge and onto the summit, arriveing in the early afternoon.

We skinned up to the crater rim and sat in the wind for a little while, had a snack, and then started skiing back down. The snow near the rim was pretty suncupped, but got nice and corny for a couple hundred feet below. Lower than that, it was extremly heavy and wet and felt like skiing through slick, thick, paste. Being up there a few hours earlier would have probably been better.

We met a group of really nice folks on the way down, Sven, Phil, Martina, Jason, and Mr. Red Tacoma from the WA alpine club. They were really impressive skiers and gave us some helpfull tips on skiing through such wet heavy snow. Even nicer though, they agreed to shuttle us from the Sno Park, where they were parked, back to our car so that we could ski out a more pleasant way and avoid the miles of road skiing that we did on the way in. After seeing both approaches, the Sno Park route is definatly definatly definatly the better route during this snow level! The ski out was a fun low angled rollar coaster through the trees, and it was remarkably shorter than the way that we came in.

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