I’ve wanted to climb Mount St. Helens for 3.5 years. Damien has wanted to climb it for 7 years! So on the final weekend of free, self issue permits we finally climbed the peak (or what’s left of it). We left our camp in Seaquest State Park at 3:30am and after getting a tittle lost we arrived at Marble Mountain Sno-park near Couger, WA at 5:15am. This it he entrance to the winter route to the Crater Rim (summit) called Worms Flows/Swift Glacier. We had signed the climbers register and picked up permits the day before in the kosiak in the upper lot. Starting in April permits will cost $22. We began hiking on a snowless xc ski trail to the left of the parking lot. If you begin there the trails are a bit of a maze, but there are signs at the junctions and maps. Ultimately one needs to get the Swift Creek Ski Trail #244B (we discovered later that if we had gone right in the parking lot we would have accessed it directly). The wooded ski trail eventually breaks out into open country. Here we crossed over the dry Swift Creek just above the dry Chocolate Falls and climbed up to the first ridge.

The ridge is narrow, becomes rocky and moves and turns like a worm (hence the name). It was very easy to follow and we hit snow at about 5000 feet. There were good amount of folks going up to the summit, but it wasn’t over crowded pm the ridge. The walking was pleasant and there were no difficulties. About 500ft above the radio tower where the first snowfield begins, the soft snow began to get icy so we put on our crampons. We easily, but steeply climbed over the never ending lumps of snow (this was made easy by following copious tracks). There is a traverse around a corner at about 7,500 feet and then a few more steep lumps to climb before reaching the high point of 8864 feet and the crater rim.

We luck out with views as the mist has cleared and we could see straight down into the massive crater. Damien and I spent some time on the summit eating chocolate and admiring perfect views of Jefferson, Hood, Rainier and Adams. We headed down eventually trying to figure out how cold we were as the wind kept blasting us and then dying down. The descent was easy to plunge step. Glissading is possible, but we only did two short ones due to the exposed rock.

The entire journey took 10 hours (6 to the summit and 4 to descend). We did not break out our snowshoes or ice axes though we brought them up. Crampons were very helpful though. An awesome trip we waited to long to complete!

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