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awilsondc
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awilsondc
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PostSun May 07, 2017 5:16 pm 
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Fourth time is the charm. I tried twice for Mount St. Helens last year cancelling once because of other plans, and a second time because of poor weather.  I tried again this March, but again poor weather.  When permits went on sale I bought two dates in case of bad weather again.  The first of which was Saturday May 6th.  The weather forecast was all over the place leading up to the day of the climb.  From horrible weather to clear conditions it was a little questionable, but it turned out to be a great day with good conditions!

We camped at Marble Mountain Sno Park in a tent on snow in the woods.  Alarm at 3:13 (5 hours sleep) and on the trail by 4am.  Snow straight from the trailhead.  We cramponed up 1/2 a mile in.  The first few miles were kinda dull hiking up by headlamp.  By the time we reached tree line the sun was rising and the colors on the clouds got me stoked!

The route follows the rocky crest right, then back left.
The route follows the rocky crest right, then back left.
Sunrise lighting on some clouds.
Sunrise lighting on some clouds.
Cool little peaklet
Cool little peaklet
Panorama from the start of the climb above tree line
Panorama from the start of the climb above tree line
Crossing some boulders with a slew of climbers behind
Crossing some boulders with a slew of climbers behind
Other climbers ascending the ridge
Other climbers ascending the ridge

I just love sunrise in the mountains... love it!  We made our way up one of the flows and soon encountered our first descenders.  The only had microspikes and had turned around due to high winds and icy conditions.  We pressed on.  Pretty soon we found out what they were talking about.

This was where the winds got bad. You can see the wind swept look of the snow here.
This was where the winds got bad. You can see the wind swept look of the snow here.
Wind swept snow
Wind swept snow
Selfie with Trevin bracing against strong winds in the background.
Selfie with Trevin bracing against strong winds in the background.

It was windy!  Crazy strong winds.  Not quite push you over strong, but certainly tighten your core and stumble a bit strong.  Fortunately my shell layers performed like a champ and I didn't feel any bite or temperature change from the wind, just immense pressure.  I was cozy warm and it was actually pretty cool.  My favorite part of the trip.  Snow conditions were very icy.  During breaks I had to slam my ice axe in several times to break through the crust to get a belay.  Despite this there were plenty of people going up with only microspikes and a few in only ski boots!  Crazy!

As we reached the weather station, my friend started to struggle a bit.  He had been down the prior 4 weeks recovering from a knee injury and was not able condition at all.  He was feeling it.  At one point I estimate he only had a 10-15% chance of summiting, but he surprised us both and soldiered on.

Panorama from the weather station
Panorama from the weather station
Climbers ascending with Hood behind
Climbers ascending with Hood behind
A group of climbers admiring the views
A group of climbers admiring the views
Trevin at the weather station
Trevin at the weather station
Rising above the coulds,Hood in the background
Rising above the coulds,Hood in the background
Solo skinner
Solo skinner
Mount Adams makes an appearance
Mount Adams makes an appearance

We powered through the winds and made our way up to the summit, albeit at a slow pace.  Conditions were mostly cloudy, but we were able to catches glimpses of Hood, Rainier, Adams, and the lava dome which is all there is to see anyway to be honest.

Crater rim
Crater rim
View of the lava dome in the summit crater from the crater rim
View of the lava dome in the summit crater from the crater rim
Climber going to check the view of the true summit
Climber going to check the view of the true summit
Some lake... I haven't bothered to find out its name
Some lake... I haven't bothered to find out its name
A line of climbers making their way up
A line of climbers making their way up

My friend was at his limit when we got to the crater rim.  I went to scope out the true summit.  It was heavily corniced.  I knew I wouldn't be able to make it to the "top" due to the cornices and my friend was done at that point so I opted not to make it over to the true summit.  No one else was going over there either, which surprised me.  Everyone stopped at the crater rim.

The true summit. It was heavily corniced as seen here.
The true summit. It was heavily corniced as seen here.

We didn't linger long and descended after 25 minutes on the summit.  After descending a bit the snow had softened enough for some glissading.  It was crazy.  In the morning the snow was so hard I could barely break through the crust with my ice axe, but on the way down we were able to glissade easily.  Half way down we were post holing up to our knees.

Peaklet on descent
Peaklet on descent
Peaklet with cool light
Peaklet with cool light

The descent was tedious.  According to my friend, the worst part was having to step off trail for all the skiers and snowboarders sliding with ease on their way down.

I'm glad to have finally checked this one off the list, my first volcano in 10 years.  It was a great day in the mountains!
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bobbi
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Joined: 13 Jul 2006
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bobbi
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PostSun May 07, 2017 7:07 pm 
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wow! 
your photos are beautiful!  thank you for sharing. 

my husband and I did st. Helen's in 2004...fog!   frown.gif

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bobbi ૐ

"Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting.  So…get on your way!" - Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss
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Get Out and Go
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Get Out and Go
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PostSun May 07, 2017 7:14 pm 
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awilsondc, looks sweet...2004 for me too, bobbi!  I would like to get up there again.

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"These are the places you will find me hiding'...These are the places I will always go."
(Down in the Valley by The Head and The Heart)
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iron
getting old



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iron
getting old
PostSun May 07, 2017 7:46 pm 
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awilsondc wrote:
Crater rim
Crater rim

looks a little too close to the edge for my likes. lemmings, it seems.

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man, you go through life, you try to be nice to people, you struggle to resist the urge to punch 'em in the face, and for what?

--- moe sizlack
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Bootpathguy
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PostMon May 08, 2017 5:51 am 
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awilsondc wrote:
Solo skinner
Solo skinner

Great image capture.

Nice report. Thanks for sharing

You wouldn't happen to have video of the winds would you?
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Snowdog
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PostMon May 08, 2017 8:32 am 
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I went up Saturday as well, but had a later start. It turned out to be fortuitous as the winds had abated. Still socked in at the top though.

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'we don't have time for a shortcut'
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Bernardo
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PostMon May 08, 2017 12:51 pm 
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That's crazy at the top.  Never expected so many people would be there.  In the past I would probably have felt that was a safe distance, but not so much anymore.

Thanks for the report!  Nice work.
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gray matter
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gray matter
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PostMon May 08, 2017 5:14 pm 
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Nice work.  What a difference a few weeks makes!  I reached the summit on April 15th, and the snow was mush all the way up and down.  I was on snow shoes the entire trip and never got the axe or the crampons out of my pack.

I agree that those folks are awfully close to the edge up there.  I saw the same thing a few weeks ago.
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christensent
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PostMon May 08, 2017 8:39 pm 
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When I went up there a few weeks ago, everyone was all the way at the edge. Based on the boot tracks, somebody did the traverse from where you hit the rim all the way to the true summit for the most part about 5-10 feet from the edge.

I imagine there's sort of a line day to day, whoever knows the least sets the "safe point" and everyone else just follows.

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Learning mountaineering: 10% technical knowledge, 90% learning how to eat
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awilsondc
Scramblin' Fool



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awilsondc
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PostMon May 08, 2017 8:40 pm 
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iron wrote:
looks a little too close to the edge for my likes. lemmings, it seems.

gray matter wrote:
I agree that those folks are awfully close to the edge up there.  I saw the same thing a few weeks ago.

Yep.  It's surprising there aren't more accidents up there with all the people getting within 3-4 feet of the edge.  Even though many people were getting foolishly close I'm glad nobody paid for it with serious injury or worse.

christensent wrote:
I imagine there's sort of a line day to day, whoever knows the least sets the "safe point" and everyone else just follows.

Exactly.  If you see tracks, you figure who ever made them didn't die.  Must be ok.

Bootpathguy wrote:
You wouldn't happen to have video of the winds would you?

I uploaded a couple:


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kathymcc
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PostTue May 16, 2017 3:26 pm 
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You are so right. they are way too close. False sense of security by all the snow.
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Brushbuffalo
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PostWed May 17, 2017 8:47 am 
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awilsondc wrote:
Some lake... I haven't bothered to find out its name
Some lake... I haven't bothered to find out its name

That's Yale Lake.

I agree with everyone's comments concerning what is a  "safe" distance from the edge. Do some of the people even realize the extent of the  near-vertical drop just feet beyond their feet, and that cornices break?  Negative event feedback ( nothing bad happened, so it's got to be OK) is the cause of such lemming mentality.

In the pre-1980 days the rounded summit didn't present such hazards. In 1964 I even recall bits and pieces of the fire lookout, long since in tiny splinters in parts of E. WA, Idaho, etc.  lol.gif

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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