Climb Mt. St. Helens
Over the summer, Brian and I and a few friends set out to climb to the top of Mt. St. Helens. For those of you unfamiliar with the 8,364 foot volcano, Mt. St. Helen’s famously blew her top in 1980 and she’s been rumbling ever since.
The climb to reach the mountain’s crater rim is non-technical, you don’t need fancy gear or years of experience to do it. What you do need is endurance, knees of steel, and a climbing permit. Permits are required year-round and are free November 1st through March 31st. From April 1st through October 31st, permits must be purchased through the Mt. St. Helen’s Institute. From May 15th until October 31st, only 100 permits are available each day. Make sure to buy your permits in advance. Permits go on sale February 1st each year. Permits for weekends and warmer weather months sell out in less than a few hours.
This was our second attempt to climb the mountain. The previous year, we’d purchased permits in October but were unable to climb due to heavy rain (this is the pacific northwet, after all). If you want a safe bet, I recommend climbing July through September when the weather is mild and the threat of rain (and gray skies which prevent seeing the views) is low.
After picking up our permit and signing the Climbers Register at the Lone Fir Resort , we set up camp at the Climbers Bivouac (read: campsite for climbers). The campsite can fill up on popular climbing days (summertime), so arrive by 4pm to ensure a spot. We built a fire, tried to drink only a few beers, and hit the hay early since we’d be rising before the sun.
The next morning, we awoke at 6 a.m. Assuming we’d be too tired to deal with breaking down camp once we were done with the climb, we packed everything up in the morning, and we were glad we did. We were on the trail by 7 a.m., just as the sun began to rise. We caught some amazing views of the sun creeping up behind Mt. Hood.