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What do I need to know to climb Mount Saint Helens?


PastorDIC
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A few of us were talking about climbing Mount Saint Helens next summer. We don't know where to start.

 

What all do we need to know to climb the mountain and find the cache? We don't want to miss something and we don't want to be starting back down the mountain at dark.

PastorDIC (Now at 1013 caches).

Battle Ground, Wa

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A few of us were talking about climbing Mount Saint Helens next summer. We don't know where to start.

 

What all do we need to know to climb the mountain and find the cache? We don't want to miss something and we don't want to be starting back down the mountain at dark.

PastorDIC (Now at 1013 caches).

Battle Ground, Wa

I know that someone will pop in with the actual link, but the first thing you need is the climbing permit to go above the loop trail. Getting one can be difficult.

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As AndrewRJ said, you need a permit - you can find everything about that at Mount St Helens Climbing Permit System.

 

The Permit page contains links to a lot of helpful info on the climb, including the USFS Climbing Mount St Helens. This page includes a quick summary of the hike:

 

Most climbers use the Monitor Ridge Route from Climbers Bivouac (3700 ft). This route gains 4,500 feet in five miles to the crater rim at 8,365 feet elevation. Although strenuous, this non-technical climb is suitable for people in good physical condition who are comfortable scrambling on steep, rugged terrain. Most climbers complete the round trip in seven to twelve hours.

 

When I did the climb in August 2006, we camped overnight at Climbers Bivouac and started the hike about 7 am. First two miles is in the trees on a gentle upslope (only about 1000 ft gain). Then you hit the treeline and the scrambling begins. 2.5 miles or so over lava rocks. There are guide posts marking the route. Final few hundred feet to rim is up a steep ash slope (arguably the hardest part - you're exhausted, you keep sliding backwards, you can see everyone on the rim). It was was well worth the effort, though, to stand on the rim and look into the steaming crater, hear the glassy rock falls, and just take in the view.

 

Reading the cache page and logs for Above the Clouds could also prove useful.

 

Googling will probably get you lots more info on the hike, including trip reports, etc.

 

klossner has some good advice on training (below). You do need to get into shape for this climb. And remember that you'll be exercising at elevation, with less oxygen to breathe.

 

Good luck!

Edited by hydnsek
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Plan to go in very early September and you won't have to deal with ice or snow. It all melts off by then.

 

Spend the summer training or you'll be miserable or won't make the top at all. Do a 1000-foot hike one weekend, then 1500 feet the next, and so on. Here are some candidates within driving distance of Portland, all with caches to entice you:

 

1000 - The top of Forest Park, starting from the bottom. For example, start at the trailhead on Bridge Avenue and hike up to "FP1".

 

1500 - Angels Rest ("Angels Rest Cache" and others), Saddle Mountain ("Are You The One? #05")

 

2000 - Kings Mountain ("Kings Ransom")

 

2500 - Indian Point ("Cowboy and Indian")

 

3000 - Table Mountain ("Table Mountain"), Dog Mountain ("Dog Mountain Trail Cache")

 

3500 - (nothing comes to mind)

 

4000 - Larch Mountain, starting from Multnomah Falls ("Larch Mountain Picnic" and others), Nesmith Point ("Nesmith Point Cache")

 

4500 - (nothing comes to mind ... all I can think of is Ben Nevis but you can't drive there)

 

5000 - Mt Defiance, starting from the I-84 rest stop ("4895")

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A couple of things to consider:

 

Wind protection. Be dang sure to bring along some clothing that will block the wind and protect your body heat.

 

Time of year is a balancing act. Climbing St Helens too late in the year and you are climbing up rocks and slipping in sand/ash. Some snow underfoot is a big help for me. Much easier to climb on as long as it isn't too late in the day and soft. Too early in the year and you are climbing in rain/snow/sleet/whiteout. Been there both ways. No promises but late June, early July may work well.

 

Well worth the climb.

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My Dad and I are actually planning to do this hike this summer as well. I'd like to do both St. Helens and Mt. Adams (anyone interested?) this year. :D

 

Does anyone know where the closest place to stay with a motorhome for the night before is? Otherwise, the nearest hotel?

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My Dad and I are actually planning to do this hike this summer as well. I'd like to do both St. Helens and Mt. Adams (anyone interested?) this year. :D

 

Does anyone know where the closest place to stay with a motorhome for the night before is? Otherwise, the nearest hotel?

I'm interested in Mt Adams....

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OP (what does OP mean anyway?) posted this on the Above the Clouds cache page:

1) Do you have to reserve and/or pay to use the bivouac?

2) Is the start of the trail clearly marked?

3) For a slow hiker, what time does one need to start the hike to make it to the cache and the rim and make it back before dark?

 

On #1 no I don't believe any sort of reservation or pay is required other than a forest pass, however the permit is require once above the treeline. I believe the permit negates the need for a forest pass.

#2 yes. It is at the parking lot on the left as you enter.

#3 The earlier you start the better for many factors. Basically be on the trail by 8 or earlier and you should be good.

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OP (what does OP mean anyway?) posted this on the Above the Clouds cache page:

1) Do you have to reserve and/or pay to use the bivouac?

2) Is the start of the trail clearly marked?

3) For a slow hiker, what time does one need to start the hike to make it to the cache and the rim and make it back before dark?

 

On #1 no I don't believe any sort of reservation or pay is required other than a forest pass, however the permit is require once above the treeline. I believe the permit negates the need for a forest pass.

#2 yes. It is at the parking lot on the left as you enter.

#3 The earlier you start the better for many factors. Basically be on the trail by 8 or earlier and you should be good.

It's interchangeable

 

Opening Poster

Opening Post

 

To the OP, as for making an inqury on the cache page.... that was a foopah treating the cache page as a forum to post an inquiry. The polite thing to do would be to delete it.

Edited by TotemLake
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My Dad and I are actually planning to do this hike this summer as well. I'd like to do both St. Helens and Mt. Adams (anyone interested?) this year. :wub:

 

Does anyone know where the closest place to stay with a motorhome for the night before is? Otherwise, the nearest hotel?

 

The closest place to stay if you want hook ups for yout RV would be in Cougar and that is less than an hours drive to the trailhead, if you don't need hook ups you can park an RV/motorhome at the trail head.there is also a motel in cougar. the folks that take care of the permits have both i think. Enjoy

I have climbed StHelens several times and did Adames for the first time last year, Great Hike and I hope to do both again this year !

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A few of us were talking about climbing Mount Saint Helens next summer. We don't know where to start.

 

What all do we need to know to climb the mountain and find the cache? We don't want to miss something and we don't want to be starting back down the mountain at dark.

PastorDIC (Now at 1013 caches).

Battle Ground, Wa

PastorDic, Mt St Helens is not a really hard moutain to climb but it is a good steep hike, if you looked through the logs for above the clouds and at the post here you got some good info but alot of it is a matter of ones own preference. for myself and the folks I usually hike with we like the snow as it affords us the op. to slide back down aka Glasading [not sure about the spelling it's 3:00 am] for one I could never understand why someone would hike all the way to the top to walk back down [which is hard on the knees] when you can slide/glasade yes you should have an ice axe to do so but that can be rented and they come in handy if you hit ice on the way up, that doesn't happen often during the summer but it does happen. I think one thing to consider is the date not so much which date [you can climb any month of the year] but try to be flexable on the date and that is not easy during the summer esp on weekends, weekdays are not usually as busy so they don't fill up as fast . the whole reason for the date issue is the weather esp. if it is your first time up it is much more enjoyable on a nice day and the view from the top is ob. better. check www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/mshnvm for alot of good info and links to climbing permits which are free this time of year but cost about $23 in the summer I'm not positive on the amount. As for training I noticed one person sugested a bunch of neat hikes and if you have the time and desire they would be great places to visit [i have been to several of them on my horse or hiking] all you really need is to do as much hiking as you can fit in, the better shape your in the more enjoyable the hike, the average person can do monitor ridge in 4 to 5 hours up and about 3 down less if you glasade, if you have to go in from the snow park it adds a mile or two to the hike each way. What I do to prepare is hike up the road to my house which is about a 12 percent grade in places and about 4 miles one way, the uphill is helpful but I also do it down hill first than up on the way home for a total of about 8 miles and I did that about 3 times a week for mt adames. shoes are important well broke in and water proof is nice but you can acomplish that with a couple plastic bags if you want to do it on the cheap. I always sugest to folks to shop REI and I know stuff cost more there but if you pay $100for boots and they don't work out REI is the only place that I know will take them back months/years later same with most of what they sell. the trail from eaither trailhead is not hard to follow but the trail from the snow park has several ski trails crossing it. the cache is on monitor ridge route and easy to find just look at the pictures, you can also reach it from the snowpark route thats what I did. let me know if I can help further. at play by jc
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I don't believe any sort of reservation or pay is required other than a forest pass, however the permit is require once above the treeline. I believe the permit negates the need for a forest pass.
You get a one-day forest pass with the climbing permit. Leave the pass in the car and take the permit with you -- if you're caught without it, it's a $500 fine.
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we like the snow as it affords us the op. to slide back down aka Glasading ... for one I could never understand why someone would hike all the way to the top to walk back down [which is hard on the knees] when you can slide/glasade
I wait until the snow is gone and glissade down through the ash. It's like shushing down a sand dune -- fun!
You should have an ice axe
NAK. If you don't know how to use an ice axe, it can do a lot more harm than good.
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You should have an ice axe
NAK. If you don't know how to use an ice axe, it can do a lot more harm than good.

 

I saw a guy on St Helens that stuck one in his head. :wub: Just a minor bloodletting, but yes they are dangerous if you don't know how to handle them. On the other hand, they do serve a purpose. As an alternative you could bring a staff to help slow your descent.

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How slow do you think you are? I'm incredibly slow. When my brother and I hiked it on July 21 '06, we left at 3:20am and hit the tree line around daybreak. Total hike to the rim was 7 hrs. Spent an hour at the top and took 5 hrs to come down. We considered glissading, but figured the risk to our already bad knees was greater on the glissade than the hike.

 

Bring sturdy gloves for the boulder field. That lava is sharp and you'll probably use your hands a lot. Pay attention to the weather forecast. It reached 95 degrees the day we hiked and 9 days later Super88 had icicles hanging from his mustache.

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The first time I went up, it was a warm day. I drank four liters of water. I brought it all from home. There's no water above the timberline.

 

Assume it might be sunny: bring sun protection, dark glasses, and a good hat.

 

It's often very windy at the top, even when it's hot and calm down below. Bring a windbreaker and a scarf so you'll be comfortable spending time at the summit.

 

Most people just take the trail to the rim. If you want to reach the true summit, you'll have to transit clockwise around the rim. This involves more strenuous up and down both going and returning, and there's no point in doing it except for the bragging rights -- the view is no better. I've only gone there once.

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If your wondering if the coin made it into the cache I would say no unless it is very small as the cache is one of those small round plastic match holders.

 

Carried up there, not left behind. Per previous agreement :ph34r:

 

Any TBs want to go to Mt St Helens?

 

The coin was at the cache. It gets credit for being there.

 

If it was your coin I don't see it in the history. Click the TB history link on the cache page for the list.

 

Yep, I know, I have since adopted it out to my daughter.

 

Lewis and Clark Geocoin 1

 

My point was that I know of a cacher that has been to the location and maybe they could provide some insight and advice. We are a community. I bet KirklandExplorers would love to talk about their experience!

 

I'd be happy to discuss how travelers work but that would need be a discussion over in the TB forum. :P

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Plan to go in very early September and you won't have to deal with ice or snow. It all melts off by then.

 

Spend the summer training or you'll be miserable or won't make the top at all. Do a 1000-foot hike one weekend, then 1500 feet the next, and so on. Here are some candidates within driving distance of Portland, all with caches to entice you:

 

1000 - The top of Forest Park, starting from the bottom. For example, start at the trailhead on Bridge Avenue and hike up to "FP1".

1500 - Angels Rest ("Angels Rest Cache" and others), Saddle Mountain ("Are You The One? #05")

2000 - Kings Mountain ("Kings Ransom")

2500 - Indian Point ("Cowboy and Indian")

3000 - Table Mountain ("Table Mountain"), Dog Mountain ("Dog Mountain Trail Cache")

3500 - (nothing comes to mind)

4000 - Larch Mountain, starting from Multnomah Falls ("Larch Mountain Picnic" and others), Nesmith Point ("Nesmith Point Cache")

4500 - (nothing comes to mind ... all I can think of is Ben Nevis but you can't drive there)

5000 - Mt Defiance, starting from the I-84 rest stop ("4895")

 

Mt Si with an elevation gain of 3700'

 

Thanks klossner and TotemLake for the caches with elevations.

 

:cry: Does anyone know of the waypoint numbers for "Mt Defiance" Cache and "Mt Si" caches? Using the search function I have not been able to find them using multiple spellings.

 

I have started a bookmark called "Climb Mount Saint Helens (Here's the Training)" that includes Above the Clouds as the final cache. Unfortunately no one else is going to be able to find it and use it on the Above the Clouds cache page unless they click on "View all 20 bookmark lists..."

 

Oh, also if anyone has any more caches with the elevation changes, please keep them coming.

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I've summited Rainier (1999), Adams, and Hood (3x on the latter). I'm always up for a climb and can probably talk another cacher into it. Specialized equipment is needed for all. Bear in mind, it is not needed until it is needed, but at that point, you NEED it. I've punched through up to my hip on a glacier on Baker (didn't summit), and was VERY happy I was tied into my partner.

St Helens is a hike, but be prepared for inclimate weather. All can be two day hikes if done correctly. And even in the hands of a novice, I would wager an ice ax is more useful than not.

My $0.02...

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5000 - Mt Defiance, starting from the I-84 rest stop ("4895")
Does anyone know of the waypoint numbers for "Mt Defiance" Cache ...
The cache name is "4895". Its waypoint is GCKDD1.

 

I will place some more caches this summer around Portland that require 3000-4500 feet of elevation gain. My team is training for South Sister.

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Since you have to sign the Climber's Register before hiking Mount Saint Helens, do you have to go all the way back from the Hikers Bivoac to The Lone Fir Resort to sign the Register, then back to the trailhead at the Bivoac, or can you sign the register the night before when you are picking up your ticket(s) and Bivoac permit at the Lone Fir Resort?

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Since you have to sign the Climber's Register before hiking Mount Saint Helens, do you have to go all the way back from the Hikers Bivoac to The Lone Fir Resort to sign the Register, then back to the trailhead at the Bivoac, or can you sign the register the night before when you are picking up your ticket(s) and Bivoac permit at the Lone Fir Resort?

I remember signing it the night before.

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Since you have to sign the Climber's Register before hiking Mount Saint Helens, do you have to go all the way back from the Hikers Bivoac to The Lone Fir Resort to sign the Register, then back to the trailhead at the Bivoac, or can you sign the register the night before when you are picking up your ticket(s) and Bivoac permit at the Lone Fir Resort?

I remember signing it the night before.

Ditto, sign on your way up, noting the date of your climb, with the permit number. You can do it a day ahead. Often, the group leader (the one with the climbing permit number) signs in, and other party members sign under them as they come through en route to Climbers Bivouac. But as long as all group members know the permit number and date, they can sign the register separately.

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Spend the summer training or you'll be miserable or won't make the top at all. Do a 1000-foot hike one weekend, then 1500 feet the next, and so on. Here are some candidates within driving distance of Portland, all with caches to entice you:

 

1000 - The top of Forest Park, starting from the bottom.

1500 - Angels Rest ("Angels Rest Cache" and others), Saddle Mountain ("Are You The One? #05")

2000 - Kings Mountain ("Kings Ransom")

2500 - Indian Point ("Cowboy and Indian")

3000 - Table Mountain ("Table Mountain"), Dog Mountain ("Dog Mountain Trail Cache")

3500 - (nothing comes to mind)

4000 - Larch Mountain, starting from Multnomah Falls ("Larch Mountain Picnic" and others)

4500 - (nothing comes to mind ... all I can think of is Ben Nevis but you can't drive there)

5000 - Mt Defiance, starting from the I-84 rest stop ("4895")

Has anyone made a similar sort of list for Seattle-area folks?

 

MsIDFC and I have paddled to the moon and back lately and are migrating towards hiking. I don't think we'll make St Helens any time soon (though MsIDFC is hot to trot about the MtM), but the list of progressive hikes is a really cool idea to combine with caching.

 

I was hoping one of the local uber-hikers either has a similar list or can whip it up off the top of their head?

 

Thanks in advance!

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Off the top of my head, here are a few for the list:

 

Little Si - North Bend

Sugarloaf Mountain - Kangley

McDonald Mountain - Kangley

Mt Margaret - Snoqualmie Pass (oldest existing cache in WA - GCD)

Mt Si - North Bend

Camp Muir - Mt Rainier

 

I'm sure others will chime in with more.

Mt Pilchuck - Mountain Loop Hwy (Purgatory cache)

Mt Higgins - Mountain Loop Hwy (Mount Higgins cache)

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Spend the summer training or you'll be miserable or won't make the top at all. Do a 1000-foot hike one weekend, then 1500 feet the next, and so on. Here are some candidates within driving distance of Portland, all with caches to entice you:

 

1000 - The top of Forest Park, starting from the bottom.

1500 - Angels Rest ("Angels Rest Cache" and others), Saddle Mountain ("Are You The One? #05")

2000 - Kings Mountain ("Kings Ransom")

2500 - Indian Point ("Cowboy and Indian")

3000 - Table Mountain ("Table Mountain"), Dog Mountain ("Dog Mountain Trail Cache")

3500 - (nothing comes to mind)

4000 - Larch Mountain, starting from Multnomah Falls ("Larch Mountain Picnic" and others)

4500 - (nothing comes to mind ... all I can think of is Ben Nevis but you can't drive there)

5000 - Mt Defiance, starting from the I-84 rest stop ("4895")

Has anyone made a similar sort of list for Seattle-area folks?

 

MsIDFC and I have paddled to the moon and back lately and are migrating towards hiking. I don't think we'll make St Helens any time soon (though MsIDFC is hot to trot about the MtM), but the list of progressive hikes is a really cool idea to combine with caching.

 

I was hoping one of the local uber-hikers either has a similar list or can whip it up off the top of their head?

 

Thanks in advance!

The Issaquah Alps (Cougar, Squak & Tiger) are a good choice for quick access.

West Tiger 3 can be had from many many different routes and of varying lengths but all with about 2000' or more of elevation gain, depending on which route you choose.

I believe the shortest rout to WT3 is about 1.5 miles up the Cable Line "trail". The main line WT3 Trail is about 3 miles one way but be warned it can be a very crowded.

And there are LOTS of caches in the Issaquah Alps for you to find.

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I've only climbed St Helens in ash (August), so I guess I have to vote for ash. <_< Actually, only the last few hundred feet is ash, there's a good two miles of lava bouldering before that, which is almost worse.

 

However, I have climbed Mt Rainier to Camp Muir in snow - about the same distance and elevation change - and I have to agree with EraSeek - overall, it was less strenuous to climb in the snow, plus we got to glissade part of the way back down! :laughing:

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I agree with snow. With steps already kicked in it's like climbing stairs and then sliding back down. If you plan to glissade using an ice axe and have no experience, find some relatively steep snow now, tape up the sharp ends and get out there and learn. It's not that difficult to grasp. Remember to use pants you don't care about as you will most likely wear out the seat in them pretty quickly.

 

Something I think more emphasis should be put on is that although the climb of MSH is lightly regarded as a hike, one could still find themselves in whiteout conditions most any time of the year and route finding skills are extremely important. Sometimes a GPS alone does not suffice, especially if you end up having any technical problems.

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With today's budget crunch, how likely is this?
It failed in the house last week by just two votes, and only because they used a procedure that required a two-thirds majority. The next time it comes up, it will probably pass. It has already passed the senate.

 

It doesn't much affect the budget. For the most part, they're just changing the designation on land already owned by the federal government. In a couple of cases, they're exchanging federal land for private land.

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