Mount Saint Helens Trip Report (#6811)
- Signed By: David & Karen
- Date submitted: May 27, 2001
- Number of People Encountered:
The idea is to start the ascent at 4am was so that you could use crampons and climb the snow while it was still hard rather than post-hole your way to the top. We also brought along headlamps so that we could make our way in the dark. Surprisingly it was pretty light out at 4:30 when we got started and the snow was soft enough that crampons weren't needed.
We had no problem finding the trail through the woods; lots of muddy boots trudging through the snow had made the route obvious. We past the tree line in about an hour, a series of posts marks the route all the way up the ridge to the summit. There was not a cloud in the sky and with each step the views got better. First Mt. Adams, then Mt. Hood, which is near Portland, next came Mt. Jeffereson, which is further south and finally we saw what I believe are the Three Sisters. We stuck mostly to the rocks and kept up a steady pace. In total it took us 4.5 hours to get from the parking lot to the rim.
The sight when you first reach the rim of the crater and see Rainier clear and crisp against a perfect blue sky towering above Spirit Lake and the blast zone is one of those rare intoxicating moments that keep you addicted to hiking. Mt. Baker and Glacier Peak are also visible making a total of seven of the Cascades finest on display. Best of all there was very little wind and we had the place to ourselves.
And to top it all off you get to slide back down 4000ft on your butt! It's better than an E-ticket ride at Disney World, especially when zoom past the poor unfortunate souls who started late, are stuck knee deep in snow and still have hours worth of climbing ahead of them. Because of the perfect weather, the snow conditions & the solitude that came with it being a weekday it turned out to be "one of the best" hikes we've ever done.