Mount Saint Helens

Mount Saint Helens
Photo by theyogiclimber, all rights reserved.

Mount Saint Helens is an active volcano, having exploded in a series of violent eruptions in 1980, after over a century of dormancy. Its elevation today is more than 1,000 feet smaller than it was prior to its eruption, when it rose to 9,677 feet.

The 1980 explosion blew 3,000 feet of elevation off the northern rim, destroyed surrounding forests, and either blew away or melted the mountain's many small glaciers. Following the eruption, 85,000 acres were preserved as the Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument, where one can witness nature's healing process firsthand. The entire area provides fascinating exploration, and from the summit, one can peer over the rim into a crater that still houses a smoking, throbbing lava dome.

Following a brief period of dormancy, the volcano resumed activity in 2004. Trails to the summit were closed temporarily, but a limited number of climbers were permitted access again in late 2006 despite ongoing low intensity eruptive activity.

The mountain was named in honor of Baron St. Helens, Alleyne Fitzherbert, British ambassador to the Court of Madrid. Native names include Lawala Clough meaning Smoking Mountain, Low-We-Not-Thlat meaning Throwing up Smoke, and Low-We-Lat-Klah meaning The Smoking Mountain.

Today inside the crater is a doughnut-shaped glacier that completely encircles the lava dome. The Crater Glacier is the youngest glacier on the planet and also the fastest growing glacier on the planet.

Elevation (feet): 8,364
Elevation (meters): 2,549
Continent: North America
Country: United States
Range/Region: Cascade Range
State: Washington
Latitude: 46.1978
Longitude: -122.191
Difficulty: Walk up
Best months for climbing: Mar, Apr, May, Jun
Most recent eruption: 2008
Year first climbed: 1853
First successful climber(s): Thomas Dryer and party
Nearest major airport: Seattle, Washington or Portland, Oregon
Convenient Center: Amboy, Washington (National Monument headquarters)

Trip Reports

There are 80 trip reports for Mount Saint Helens.

  • Log #20489 - by Terry Thompson on Nov 14, 20063.00 stars
    A great scramble. Early winter weather though - snow, ice, heavy wind, and consequently zero visibility from the crater rim.
  • Log #6753 - by Tom Carmichael + Erica Jensen on Oct 21, 20043.00 stars
    This is a 10 for PNW hikes, fantastic history, geology, and watching the steam from the crater was truly remarkable. Make no mistake, it is still a sleeping giant. I can't wait to try another hike...
  • Log #6755 - by Lindsey Rinker on Oct 20, 20043.00 stars
    I have never been to mt. saint helens but by pictures and reading about it makes me more interested in it. Beautiful views that have grown back after '80.I hope I get the honor to go there someday.
  • Log #6757 - by XXX on Oct 20, 20043.00 stars
    "unusually" warm following the eruption. It was about 65 degrees on the summit. Horrible views. Still smokey and hot on the ground in some places.
  • Log #6762 - by natalya jonesi on Oct 20, 20043.00 stars
    I am so sexy all of you should like me give me a call at 281 489 9986 oh and this site rocks i am using it for my hw dog peace out
  • Log #6768 - by Dan Ellis on Sep 07, 20043.00 stars
    Left CB at 7:30AM,summitted at 11:30. Great climb, lots of up rocks and loose gravel. Fantastic views of the arc of the volcanoe rim on which you stand. Ranier, Adams and Hood were beautiful standing...
  • Log #6769 - by Kathryn Lambert on Aug 22, 20043.00 stars
    I climbed with Bradley Lee, CN Dillon and Rusty Lee - see logs below for more details of our trek. My first mountain climb, and probably the first time I'd even scaled a large hill in years. An...
  • Log #6770 - by Bradley Lee on Aug 11, 20043.00 stars
    One of my climbing partners, CNDillon, put the trip into fine words and they can be read below. In a few months photos will be available at the website listed above.
  • Log #6771 - by CNDillon on Aug 10, 20043.00 stars
    Lots of fun but the mountain caught me a little by surprise. I'd never climbed anything of this magnitude before and nothing even close to it in years. I'd read a bit about the climb but nothing that...
  • Log #6772 - by Mark Firmani on Aug 02, 20043.00 stars
    Wow, what a day! I joined a group of 9 friends to try my luck on the moountain. It was my first trip, save a trip to the visitor center. The weather forcast was promising, and for once, held true. We...
  • Log #6773 - by Nate W. on Aug 01, 20043.00 stars
    I made the climb in the spur of the moment and did not prepare well enough physically. I would suggest that you be in pretty good condition to make this climb. I made it up in 6 ½ hours and it was...
  • Log #6774 - by Allison Ogden on July 26, 20043.00 stars
    A thunderstorm, complete with hail, prevented me and a bunch of others from beginning any earlier than 9:30am, when it finally cleared. The rest of the day was perfect. I started off from climber's...
  • Log #6775 - by Andreas Koehn on July 11, 20043.00 stars
    great event; climbed together with David Heid under top weather conditions, windy; funny was my step into a big piece of shit while whatching the fantastic scenery.
  • Log #6778 - by Matthew Wolpert on July 10, 20043.00 stars
    5:47 am left NE 32nd & Alberta in Portland. Bicycled to Marble Mountain Sno Park ("climbers bivouac" a mistake). Climbed to rim. Descended.
  • Log #6779 - by Matthew Wolpert on July 10, 20043.00 stars
    5:47 am left NE 32nd & Alberta in Portland. Bicycled to climber's bivouac. Climbed to rim. Descended.
  • Log #6780 - by Brian Jenkins on Mar 05, 20043.00 stars
    Storm blew in on summit, complete whiteout. Scooted down on my butt following my footprints. Not fun.
  • Log #6782 - by Susan Kemp on Nov 27, 20033.00 stars
    Amazing -- just before summiting, you think you are way low bedcause the slope is so broad. Then, all of a sudden, there is the crater at your feet, looking like the entire inside of the mountain had...
  • Log #6783 - by Rick on Oct 03, 20033.00 stars
    Hiked Mt St Helens via Monitor Ridge Trail from Climbers bivy on my 30th birthday, with my two best friends from home (Massachusetts). On the trail about 7:45, summitted and called my wife from the...
  • Log #6784 - by Matthew Wolpert on Oct 02, 20033.00 stars
    2:36 am left NE 32nd & Alberta in Portland. Biked to climber's bivouac. Climbed to rim. Descended.
  • Log #6785 - by an anonymous user on Oct 02, 20033.00 stars
    My 3rd summit of St. Helens was an early morning push which got us on the summit and back down before the hot sun could fry our hides. Joined by my close friend, Ed Thompson, we left the car at...
  • Log #6786 - by Chris Fausner on July 08, 20033.00 stars
    Began hike around 7:30AM at Climber's Bivouac. It was raining and 46 degrees at that point and the weather deteriorated from there. This was my first climb of Mt. St. Helens and was doing it alone.
  • Log #6787 - by murari gopalan on July 07, 20033.00 stars
    Great weather, and it was an awesome hike. All peaks (Adams, RAinier and hood) were visible. Sliding back down on my butt was fun -would advise taking a hiking pole or pick axe and some rainproof...
  • Log #6788 - by James Martin on July 05, 20033.00 stars
    This was my second time to the top. We had beautiful weather and the view is amazing. I took an ice ax and hiking boots. I would recomend hiking poles! This is a place where all should go.
  • Log #6789 - by Jim Rush on July 04, 20033.00 stars
    Use wands, or just remember to stay close to the ridge and it's markers. Saw a large group heading of to the West away from the route on the way down. Could not stop them , to far away clouds roled...
  • Log #6790 - by Randy Troy on June 06, 20033.00 stars
    It was a great climb especially for my wife's first time. We had the most perfect weather and could see Mt. Hood, Mt. Baker, Mt.
  • Log #6791 - by Ron Hurst on May 12, 20033.00 stars
    It was a great hike, and a perfect first climb. After climbing this volcano I became hooked! I've been cimbing ever since! The view was unbeliveable although because of raging forest fires we didn't...
  • Log #6793 - by Carmen Talley on Jan 01, 20033.00 stars
    An awesome experience. The hike/climb was unlike anything I had experienced in the Appalachians. We were a little nervous starting out (from all the warnings!) but the comraderie of all the other...
  • Log #6794 - by Julie Stone/Zarita Norcross on Nov 29, 20023.00 stars
    We will never forget the breathtaking view from the summit. Get your volcano climbing permit and don't miss out on this great hike.
  • Log #6795 - by Glenn Ponas on Nov 04, 20023.00 stars
    I visited the Pacific Northwest for the first time two years ago and fell in love with the mountains. At the time I was 352 pounds and thought I'd have no shot of ever seeing the top of the mountain....
  • Log #6796 - by Tom Tang on Sep 24, 20023.00 stars
    It has been a long, long time ago. First time, I put the crampons on, plastic boots, ice ax. I had to take the heavy boots off in the middle way and put my tennis shoes back on:-( Easy scrambling,...
  • Log #6797 - by LAWRENCE W. MARZ on Sep 14, 20023.00 stars
  • Log #6800 - by Jesse on Aug 22, 20023.00 stars
    What a great hike! Extremely fun to hike up and a stellar view from the top. Simply amazing view of Ranier, Adams, Hood, and Jefferson even in low visibility! First major hike but definately the...
  • Log #6801 - by Joe Ponas on Aug 02, 20023.00 stars
    Same slog as always. Good warm up for other hikes w/ my brother Glenn during his stay in the Northwest. He is amazing! His first climb ever. He trained for nine months and shed 115lbs.
  • Log #6802 - by Janelle Hayes Hall on May 20, 20023.00 stars
    It was a beautiful day! The climb was intense but well worth it! It was the most breathtaking view from the Summit, standing there looking into the crater. It was amazing. We stood there and looked...
  • Log #6804 - by William Conrad on May 02, 20023.00 stars
    Seventeen years ago today, Dick Bass completed the final summit of his "Seven Summits" adventure atop Mt. Everest. Today marks the beginning of my climbing adventures.
  • Log #6805 - by Matt Eldridge on Apr 28, 20023.00 stars
    This was my 30th birthday climb, and was well-worth it! The snowboard trip down was great too (we got back to the Marble Mt. sno-park in an hour!)
  • Log #6806 - by John McGilvra on Jan 28, 20023.00 stars
    Mt. St. Helens is part of my regular fitness routine, I hike/climb an average of twice a week, year round. The summer route is about 5 miles with a 4,500' gain and takes me about 2 1/2 to 3 hours,...
  • Log #6807 - by Kristen Geisenhoffer on Oct 04, 20013.00 stars
    Unless you make the climb, you cannot appreciate the supreme destruction and beauty the eruption created. While the hike is by no means easy, it is well worth it!
  • Log #6808 - by Weisey on Sep 20, 20013.00 stars
    Great hike with great views! Staring down into the volcano from the crumbly edge was quite a thrill! The last few yards really take a toll on the hiker as you are walking on ash. Check out our trip...
  • Log #6809 - by Tim Thomsen on June 29, 20013.00 stars
    Interesting climb/scramble with varied terrain surfaces. Awesome view of the destructive force of the explosion. Glissade descent was a blast!
  • Log #6810 - by James D. Booth on May 28, 20013.00 stars
    An amazing day for a lone Hoosier
  • Log #6811 - by David & Karen on May 27, 20013.00 stars
    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...
  • Log #6812 - by John McGilvra on Mar 18, 20013.00 stars
    I love this mountain climbing stuff. I have been to the rim of Mt. St. Helens 8 times in the last six months. It is a totally beautiful view which includes the interior of the volcano and it's dome,...
  • Log #6813 - by Ryan on Feb 12, 20013.00 stars
    Up Worm Flows route. Low snowfall made the approach easy. Put on crampons at 5,300 feet for ease. Real icy from 7,000 feet up.
  • Log #6814 - by Mark Rodriguez on Feb 11, 20013.00 stars
    Camped at the timberline both times to enjoy the clear starry nights and Portland lights. A spectacular sunrise greeted us in the morning to lift our spirits for the day trek. An arduous climb on the...
  • Log #6815 - by Bonnie Seefeldt and Sylvia Stanley on Jan 28, 20013.00 stars
    Some icy areas.. but a beautiful day for a summit!! Did some of the climb with fellow mountaineer, Mike Morningstar. Made it to the top to be greeted by him and a bottle of wine. Toasted the...
  • Log #6817 - by Paul Bunce on Dec 03, 20003.00 stars
    The first year was a long, hot hike. 1999 had a lot of snow, 3 feet at the bivouac. It was a fun and fast climb. 2000, we camped at treeline, then climbed early to watch sunrise from the top.
  • Log #6818 - by Aaron Henderson on Dec 01, 20003.00 stars
    Mark Griffith and I, both guides for the outdoor recreation program at Pacific Lutheran University brought ten other students down to make it up to the summit for the first time in the schools...
  • Log #6819 - by Andy Laird on Oct 25, 20003.00 stars
    As a BoyScout I climed it twice in the same week in the summer of 1971?(1972?). This was a guided trip through Camp Shepard. What a stunning view at night! We overnighted once and did one uppi-downi....
  • Log #6820 - by Michael Moncrief on Oct 25, 20003.00 stars
    Conditions not optimal - steady rain from Climbers Bivouac changing to freezing rain about 5,000 ft. and ice pellets and snow towards the summit. Visibility at the top was only about 30 feet. Despite...
  • Log #6821 - by David Ilreland on Oct 02, 20003.00 stars
    I thought the hike was great, took 3 1/2 up and 2 1/2 down. My heart was really pounding toward the top. Every few steps I needed to rest for a bit. Lots of volcanic dust to breath - but the view...
  • Log #6822 - by Ron Burkett on Aug 27, 20003.00 stars
    My two friends and I had a great climb! The weather was perfect for the day and the views were expansive, We all took lots of photos, to see them, and read my full-blown trip report, go here:...
  • Log #6823 - by Ryan Stokes on Aug 09, 20003.00 stars
    It was a great day for views of all the volcanoes in the area.
  • Log #6824 - by Tony Weissman on July 22, 20003.00 stars
    This was the best day I've ever climbed St. Helens. I've gone up it 2 times before. There was not a single cloud in the air and the weather was perfect. I led 3 people up the mountain who have never...
  • Log #6825 - by Brian Sebastian on July 12, 20003.00 stars
    What an awesome day to climb. Had thin cloudcover til 6500 ft then it was clear as can be. Great views of of Adams, Hood, Ranier and even Mt. Washington in the distance.
  • Log #6826 - by Stan Kuback on July 11, 20003.00 stars
    This Tuesday in June turned out to be a great day for a hike to the top of this peak. Enough snow remained to allow traversing the snowfields rather than dealing with the typical slow slog via...
  • Log #6827 - by Brad Sampson on Jan 26, 20003.00 stars
    I have summeted many times, i'm only 15 and my record tiime to the peak is 2 hours and 40 minutes
  • Log #6828 - by Eric DeVroeg on Jan 25, 20003.00 stars
    I live fairly close to this peak and have ascended it twice, and greatly enjoyed it both times. The second time was exceptionally clear weather, without the usual haze. Even though this peak...
  • Log #6829 - by Annie Follett on Dec 27, 19993.00 stars
    A beautiful day! Suuny and crisp. Our accomplishment included getting our six month old son to the summit with us.
  • Log #6830 - by Tom G. on Aug 01, 20053.00 stars
    The first time I was there was in 1983 before they allowed any climbing. The second time I took a novice climber up right after they openned it up for climbers in 1988. The weather was mixed,...
  • Log #6831 - by Malahal Naineni on Sep 23, 19993.00 stars
    Need high cut boots or gaiters while hiking down
  • Log #6832 - by Lance Weaver on July 20, 19993.00 stars
    Would have liked to have climbed it before it blew up! I've heard that there are some awesome views to be had but we couldn't see more that a 100 ft. Snowboard ride down was okay, but we hit it too...
  • Log #6833 - by Douglas Wilkie on June 10, 19993.00 stars
    Am interested in helicopter tours of the mountain.
  • Log #6834 - by David Stockton on May 26, 19993.00 stars
    Mount Saint Helens is special to me because it was where I got my first real mountain climbing experience. I climbed it in the summer of 1988, just after it was first reopened to climbing after the...
  • Log #6835 - by Bill Courtemanche on May 25, 19993.00 stars
    What a fantastic day to climb a mountian. There was not a cloud in the sky, which made for a truely incredible experience. It was 60 degrees at the summit. The consistency of the snow was firm in the...
  • Log #6836 - by Roy Ratliff on Apr 26, 19993.00 stars
    It could be very interesting before the big blowup. The north side glacier was an exciting climb.
  • Log #6837 - by Albert Hoffman on Apr 11, 19993.00 stars
    I wore bright colors in case I got lost. I brought my bandit ring along in case it got too foggy near the peak. Overall, our troops had a fun time except we forget the d-racks. My advice, go tackle...
  • Log #6838 - by Paul Bunce on Apr 03, 19993.00 stars
    It was a long climb. The top section is like climbing up a sandy beach. For every step up, you lide down a little too.
  • Log #6839 - by Eric Forhan on Mar 19, 19993.00 stars
    Long grind to the top.......but well worth it!!
  • Log #6840 - by Guy Russ on Jan 31, 19993.00 stars
    It was 2 days after my birthday and this was my first climb on a snow covered peak. Going up Monitor Ridge, I followed a boy scout troop near the top of the mounain. It was well worth the climb even...
  • Log #6841 - by Fred Spicker on Nov 01, 20043.00 stars
    Ascent via Forsyth Glacier - we didn't think at the time that we would have to shovel parts (very small parts) of the route off our patio some day!
  • Log #6842 - by Janet Morgan & Gregory Frux on Nov 01, 20043.00 stars
    We started at 6 in the morning, got to the summit at 11:42. We used wands, which was very useful because we had fog on the way down. Other climbers told us to get to the top before noon, because it...
  • Log #6843 - by john seward on Nov 27, 19983.00 stars
    First time via dogs head route. Rather cool conditions on top, breeze. Second time did Shoe String Glacier on east side. Pretty well trapped by rockfall.
  • Log #6844 - by David Hendricks on Nov 13, 19983.00 stars
    The devistation is amazing. Great day, but would never go back without snow cover. The descent is torturous.
  • Log #6845 - by Adam Peck on Nov 09, 19983.00 stars
    We looked like old men from all the ash.
  • Log #6846 - by Stan Kuback on Nov 01, 20043.00 stars
    The weather was great, though a little hot. I was huffing and puffing by the time reached the last pitch up at 7000 feet. But, It was the first scramble with my son, so what can I say, It was a great...
  • Log #6847 - by Mike Andrews on Sep 23, 19983.00 stars
    Moderately physical, not technical. Climbing before the lottery permit system takes effect in the late May allows for a certain opportunity on any given day. However, it is important to check road...
  • Log #21441 - by Roselle Abregu on Sep 16, 20083.00 stars
    Breath taking. The knife ridge up to the summit was absolutely amazing and the view of the crater was was still smoking! Everything about this hike was great, even the pumice stone I...
  • Log #21415 - by Bart Damron on Sep 03, 20083.00 stars
    My sister and I arrived to the trailhead around 5AM and waited for the first bits of sunlight to start our climb. The first mile or so is fairly easy, climbing through forested areas and picking your...
  • Log #21740 - by barker4rainier on Aug 13, 20093.00 stars
    Looking down from the crater rim was awesome.