Mt St. Helens Climb
March 30, 2019
Coordinator: Ben Rosati
Summit Altitude: 8 feet
Elevation Gain: 5699 feet
Round-trip Distance: 12 miles
The St. Helens climb crew gathered early in the morning for a 2 am start. Three climbers arrived at the lot around 9:30 pm the previous night in order to get a few hours of sleep. The other four climbers arrived around 1:30 am. They were lucky to have found a parking space as the gorgeous weather and the second to last day before the lottery permits starting drew significant crowds.
After taking time to gather equipment and find parking, the crew departed the lot up the Worm Flows climbing route around 2:30 am. The skies were clear and stars were shinning. The group climbed strong and consistent throughout the night. The early departure boded well for the team as there were few other climbers on the route that early.
Crampons were donned early on as the snow was firm due to the freezing temperatures. The crampons and a well worn boot pack allowed for even greater efficiency of travel. The sun rose above Mt. Adams around 7 am and the team was just below the final false summit. The two lady climbers arrived at the false summit first around 7:15 am motivated by food and warmer layers. The rest of the boys arrived shortly after at the rim of the crater at 7:30 am.
The views were outstanding with miles of visibility. Mt. Hood, Jefferson, and the sisters were seen to the south. Mt. Rainer, Goat Rocks, and even the Olympics visible to the North. After a brief rest and a few sips of "banana juice" (ask Kyle), the team set out for the true summit a short walk around the rim to the west. The team made it there around 8:15 - 8:30 am (can't remember exactly which) and enjoyed celebratory fist bumps and relief that the upward slog was about done.
The team returned to the initial crater rim, put on rain pants and garbage bag diapers then began the glissade back to tree line. The two ladies opted out of the glissade favoring a walking descent. As I sit writing this, unable to sit on a hard chair for any amount of time, they may have made the wiser choice. The boys went for the glissade which ranged from soft slush to hard ice at times. One climber attempted to glissade on a thermarest folding pad with limited success. It was worth a try!
However they chose to travel, all climbers made it down successfully without injury. Before descending below tree-line, they all took one last look at mountain. It resembled an ant hill with hoards of people ascending it's slopes. They were all very glad to have left so early as to avoid the masses. Final arrival at the parking lot was at 11:30 am where the crew enjoyed a post climb IPA to cap the day. Two first time Helens climbers and three first time summits (one climber never made it over to the real summit until this trip because "That's where people go to poop").