July 10, 2001

Mt. St. Helens

During my season in Escalante I took a short trip to Montana and Oregon. While in Oregon, and visiting my brother in Vancouver, I thought I'd climb Mt. St. Helens. I was traveling without a car and my brother Brian felt like getting out of town for a little while so we went and checked out the Ape Caves, then went to the small market called Jacks Rest where they were to have the drawing for the next days climbing permits.

I don't know why the Forest Service has the drawing here. There aren't even any Forest Service people around. If you get a permit you can take up to 4 people in your climbing party. I was climbing alone so I got together with some other people in the parking lot. We made up a group a 4 and agreed that if any one of us was to draw that the lucky soul would agree to sign the other three of us up. As it turned out a gal in my pseudo-group drew the permit and we all went inside with her, signed in, and were issued climbing permits. After being issued permits our little group went our separate ways and I didn't see them again. It was getting to be late afternoon so my bro and I went up to the campground and trailhead at Climbers Bivouac which is where I'd embark on the Monitor Ridge route to the summit of the volcano rim the next morning.


We had something to eat and hung out for a while then Brian headed out since he had to be at work early the next morning. I woke early way before dawn. Got out of tent and could see the silhouette of the summit of the mountain in the darkness then the excitement began to build. Anyone familiar with the Cascade Range knows how rare a clear day is.


I got ready to go and headed out in the dark. The trail below timberline was easy enough to follow in the dark. I planned on stopping for a break at sunrise near timberline and having some coffee. I was about a mile from the bivouac and I realized that in my excitement I'd forgotten my camera. My dear ol' granny used to say "if you haven't got it in the brains you gotta have it in your legs". I returned to the camp and retrieved my camera so these pictures, poor as they may be, are the result of an extra couple miles. I knew I just couldn't go to the summit of Mt. St. Helens without a camera anyway. I made it to the treeline by sunrise anyway where I had a fantastic view of Mt. Hood in the distance.

The route up Monitor Ridge was a long slog through pumice pebble like gravel. Interesting geology to say the least on an un-imaginable scale.


There aren't too many of my experiences that're as exhilarating as getting to the summit of a mountain.

Once on top it was as fantastic as I'd imagined. The rim was horseshoe shaped with a narrow trail along it in both directions from Monitor Ridge.

From the summit trail I had a birdseye view of the inside of the volcano and a nice view of some of the other peaks of the Cascades, including Rainier, Adams, Hood, and Jefferson. Very dramatic! The volcano even had steam coming out of it.


When the mountain blew in 1980 the trajectory went mostly northeast, which pretty much eliminated that entire side of the mountain (the open part of the horseshoe). This pic shows the end of each arm of the "horseshoe" with Rainier in the background.


Here is what the summit of the mountain looked like when I got back to the Climbers Bivouac.


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