This photo album start in fact the day before. camped near Silver Lake. Woke up because of people launching their boats, drove to Johnston Ridge Observatory, hike the Hummock trail and enjoyed the views of Mt St Helens Crater. Drove back and around it, stopped at Lake Merwin, got the climbing permit in Cougar, hiked through the lava tubes of Ape Cave and set up camp at Marble Mountain. The next day was the Mt Saint Helens climbing day.
You need a permit to climb Mount Saint Helens, all year round: In 2009, "Permits are required year round. From November 1 through March 31, you can obtain permits at no charge from the Lone Fir Resort in Cougar, WA. From April 1 through October 31, you need to purchase a permit in advance from this site. From April 1 through May 15, there is no limit on the number of permits available. After May 15, permits are limited to 100 per day. "
You can make reservation for the permit here:
You can check the availability here:
Be aware that from May to October, the permits are sold very very very quickly. When I looked beginning of May, all the weekend were already full. If you are too late, you might take a look at the cascadeclimber forum where there is a dedicated part for permit exchange.
Since permits for all the weekends were already full, I was left with the option of climbing Mount Saint Helens on Monday, so I took the chance! It turns out to be the 29th anniversary of the 1980 blast! Pure luck!
After taking the permit at Cougar, spent some time exploring Ape Cave (amazing lava tubes) I set up camp at the Marble Mountain Snopark (Climber Bivouac was still closed by snow)
On Monday morning we started hiking up this amazing volcano. We took the worms flow route. The views opened up quickly. It was a boiling hot day and snow was slushy almost right from the start. We were able to boot part of it, but decided to put the snowshoes fairly quickly. Some people hiked with boots, but they had a long slog! Most people were skiing.
The last push is hard. I could see someone on the rim, who seemed to be fairly close, but it took a long time get up to the rim. Had to stop every 5 steps!
But suddenly the views from the rim over the crater are breathtaking. Watching the lava dome and smoke coming out of it, hearing rocks falling from the sides, smelling sulphur, the snow still covering part of it. This volcano is only sleeping.... Nice views in every direction, Rainier, Mt Hood, Mt Adams. The cornices along the rim were dangerously overhanging the crater. That's a direct drop into the lava dome.
I went to the highest point along the rim, on climbers left. It's not really a summit anymore, but couldn't see the crater from there because I was scared of the unstable cornices.
Going back down was a fun and super long glissade! Those volcanoes have something special. They really attract me and I was fascinated by the crater.