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Climbing Mt St Helens

The next day, we are up nice and early (4:30am) and are ready to go at the trailhead at 6:11am. The day, like all so far before, is clear and calm. So far, so good.
Monitor Ridge Trailhead
Peter is determined
Trail nearing timberline.
The first part of the trail is actually quite pleasant - nicely graded, and, higher up, with nice lookouts. We get our first good look at the surrounding terrain - which consists of thickly wooded peaks and snowy volcanoes poking out here and there in the distance. We can no less than 4 of the Cascade volcanos from our vantage point - Mount Saint Helens itself, Mount Adams, Mount Hood and Mount Jeffereson.
Climbing Lava Flows
Looking up
Looking down the route
Soon we start to pass fairly large lava flows and the treeline is reached. From here on, the trail ends and the route is lightly marked as it makes its way up over lava flows and dusty pumice slopes. Here and there there are still snowfields, which we make use of on the way up and down.
Peter, Markus, Hood
The other 97 or so people are also on the mountain, and we never feel lonely. The hike is long and steep, but we make good time, and we slog to the crater rim at about 10:30am (total distance from the trailhead to the crater rim is about 7.5 kilometres, with an elevation gain of 4700 feet). The view from the rim is truly breathtaking - as you crest, you are presented with a panoroma of the huge crater and devastated area with gleaming Mount Rainier to the north. Truly impressive.
Markus and monitoring station
Peter and Mt Adams
The Crater rim
Other hikers on rim.
Rainier and Spirit Lake
Summit of Crater rim.
The route meets the crater rim not at the true summit. From the rim, a tricky, slipperly scramble along the rim brings you to the true summit at 8360+ feet. Fortunately for us, the vast majority of hikers opt out of this final bit, and so except for one lone meditative summiter, we have the true summit to ourselves. Markus, myself and Peter send out brief e-mails, being the geeks that we are.
Lava Dome
Peter along the rim
E-mail from the summit
Mount Rainier vista
Markus, e-mail, and Adams
Capturing the moment
After a short lunch break, we scramble back down to the car. The day is still early, and as a final capper to our Mt St Helens experience, we drive around to the northeast and explore the devastated area.
courtesy MWandel
Markus and Peter on Summit
Andrew and Peter on Summit
Descending on Snow
Descending on Snow
Markus descends....
Mount Adams
Mount Adams
--- end of images for mt st helens, trackmap follows next ---
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Mt St Helens Climb - click map to view
Climb Data - Mt St Helens
Start Time: 6:13a.m.
End Time: 2:57p.m.
Duration: 8h43m
Distance: 14.29 km (8.88 mi)
Average Speed: 1.6 km/hr (1.0 mph)
Start Elevation: 3676ft (1121m) *
Max Elevation: 8319ft (2536m) *
Min Elevation: 3676ft (1121m) *
End Elevation: 3859ft (1176m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 4720ft (1439m) *
Total Elevation Loss: 4507ft (1374m) *
* : +/- 75 feet
Elevation Graph
Mt St Helens - Elevation over Distance
Mt St Helens - Elevation over Time
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