2018-03-31 Mount Saint Helens

Distance: 10.6 mi.
Elevation Gain: 5678 ft.

We wanted to take advantage of the last day before permit season (as well as the good weather window!) so we got our daily Sno-Park Permit for $20 the night before and drove down to the Marble Mountain Sno-Park in the morning. We left Seattle at 2:45 AM and reached the lower trailhead just after 6 PM with a gas stop along the way. We found Melissa, Jim, and Nathan, who had all slept at the trailhead, and then groggily got prepared for the day with beacon checks, etc. We started skinning at about 6:45 AM and moved up the trail at a brisk pace. We had a snack and sunscreen break around 7:30 and then continued left to that kind of tenuous crossing over the Swift Creek gully.

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We turned right after the gully and started making our northward approach toward the crater rim. The five of us spread out and took whatever line looked nicest. Vanessa, Melissa, and Jim all put on ski crampons once the slope became steeper and icier, while Craig powered through. Nathan put skis on his back and hiked up the rest of the way from about 4,500′. We made steady progress to the upper slopes. Jim and Melissa eventually transitioned to carrying skis as well at about 5,500′. IMG_4267.jpg

The snow eventually became even firmer and Craig and Vanessa had to join the ski carrying train by about 7,200′. Jim, Melissa, and Nathan reached the crater rim first, so they decided to drop their packs and head to the high point of the rim. Craig and Vanessa had lunch and relaxed with their 500 closest friends. We watched as skiers and snowboarders headed down one by one, noting by the sound in our ears that the snow was slowly softening.

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By the time we headed down, the snow was PERFECT! There were a few hunks of ice for the first one hundred feet, but it was wonderful, smooth corn for the remainder of the descent. The road ski out was super fun, as always! We made it from the summit to the car in about an hour.

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More Photos
Download GPS Track

(Download the free Gaia GPS app on your phone to view tracks and then get a Gaia GPS membership if you want offline access. Discount below!)

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Recommended Brew: Ghostfish Kick Step IPA

Gear Used:

  • Avalanche beacon/shovel/probe
  • Backcountry boots/skis/skins
  • Glacier glasses
  • GPS
  • Helmet
  • Ski crampons
  • Trekking poles
  • Water drops/filter
  • Whippet

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