Mt. St. Helens, May 2013

I finally made it to the summit of Mt. St. Helens, Washington, again, in May. The last time I was up top was during my late Teewinot’s last climb. MSH is a fantastic, easy climb with over 5500 feet of elevation gain. I took my time, many breaks, and summited after nearly seven hours of climbing, but since I had my skis on my feet, it took just over an hour to get back to the trailhead!

On this day I slept overnight in my car in the parking lot and managed to get a really late start – so late, in fact, that despite their being over 200 climbers registered for the climb that day, I was the last up the trail. This is good in the sense that you don’t get passed by anyone, which usually makes you feel slow!!

I got on my skis about 100 feet from the parking lot, and skinned all the way to the crater rim before doffing the skins and ripping it back to the trailhead. It was a beautiful spring day without a cloud in the sky.
Sadly, when I got back to Cougar to sign-out at the climbers’ register, my car was overheating and I naively decided it was something major (later I would find out it was only a broken radiator hose), so I parked and waited for a ride from Battle Ground. In the meantime, I went into the only open bar and discovered Fort George Brewery Vortex IPA on tap (my favorite!) and enjoyed an awesome pile of chicken tenders.

Some of the interesting observations I made on this climb –

-I saw a military jet (a large, cargo-style jet C5?) DIVE into the crater as it crested the ridge from the south. Since the area directly over the crater is a no-fly zone by FAA regulation, I’m “sure” they had a waiver and weren’t just screwing around. Yeah…

-I saw three guys “penguin-ing” down the slopes – that is, they were sliding on their bellies, head-first! Crazy! It is hard to self-arrest in this configuration, but hey, it was slushy and they weren’t moving that fast!
-I was the last person to the top, spent an hour or more up there, and didn’t see another person all the way down – I love having the mountain to myself – if you’ve never climbed a mountain solo, in solitude, you’re missing out – it is one of the most wonderful experiences in life!

Enjoy the photos!

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