Mt. Saint Helens 11/30/14
One more virgin summit for me and my first climb over varied, snow-covered terrain. Mountain #4 was slated to be southern Oregon’s Mt. McLoughlin but when Friday’s weekend forecast came in, our plans changed- not only was weather near Medford supposed to be extra spicy, but the forecast for Saint Helens was looking PERFECT for a Sunday summit. And it really was. Aside from frigid temperatures (we were both burritoed/cocooned in our sleeping bags on Saturday night), and some windy patches, this 12 mile climb was characterized by clear skies and sunshine. I mean, did you see the photos I posted?!
Our 5am start was pushed back to 6am due to the fact that making coffee/breakfast is much slower when you’re trying to do it from inside the warmth of a tent. The timing was perfect, however, because the sky began to lighten as we came into view of the mountain, and we were gifted with glittering, pink snow during our first stretch of climbing.
The snow pack was lovely on the way up and it made our skis and snowshoes unnecessary. The downside to the lovely snow? It was so cold that we had to drink straight from the reservoirs on our bladders- the tubes were iced over from the night before- and our bars/bagels were rock hard. Exciting!
Andy lead me through a series of self-arresting skill tune ups when we hit the base of the crampons-definitely-helpful section, and we pushed for the summit. Avoiding the edge (thanks, cornices!) we snapped a few summit-selfies and panoramas, and made our way back down to a less- horribly windy ridge. From the summit, all the glory of Adams, Hood, Jefferson, and Rainier was apparent and I got drunk on mountain landscapes for a few minutes.
Once we fueled/hydrated our tired bodies, Andy strapped on his skis and shredded some serious gnar/got powder-stoked/laid out some tracks… You get the idea. It was amazing. Not being a skier, I walked down and snapped photos and soaked up the sunshine.
We got a bit … Off the trail at one point and had to navigate back to the appropriate ridge line. This made for some exciting scrambling!
Andy was a patient, encouraging coach and adventure partner whenever I became pee-my-pants anxious about a section of the climb and as a result, despite being exhausted and a bit hangry, I had an easier time on the spicier bits than I did on Adams.
The sun was setting as we entered the trees. For a sunrise to sunset climb, Saint Helens was epic. I can’t wait for Mountain #5 :-)
Here’s some stats-
Car to summit 6h18m Car to car 11h10m
Not bad for Pandas…