I'm just looking for clarification on Mt St. Helens red tape. I'm pretty sure Nov-Mar is self permitted for free. But I can' tell about passes for parking. Is the Climber's Bivouac separate from the Marble Mountain Sno-Park? Can I park there with a Northwest Forest Pass? Or do I need to park at the Sno-Park and pay $20/day.
I would arrive late on a Sunday in early February and camp for the night. Then hike Helens all day Monday and leave. Can I stay at the Bivouac with my Forest pass? or do I need 2 days worth of pass to park at the Sno-Park?
Please don't tell me to Google it... I've spent 3 hours investigating and have come up with lots of answers that contradict each other.
The Worm Flows route starts at the sno-park and yes you will need a sno-park pass in February. The climber's bivouac is not accessible in the winter (gated + not plowed as far as I know), it's also not directly in-route on worm-flows. All things considered you should pretend it doesn't even exist for the scope of planning this trip.
I'm 97% sure the above is all true based on my past experience with going to that mountain, someone correct me if I'm telling lies!
-------------- Learning mountaineering: 10% technical knowledge, 90% learning how to eat
I did it this winter and last, and found things exactly as christensent describes. You may find the snopark yearly pass to be worthwhile. When you order online you can print a temporary pass while waiting for the official one to arrive in the mail. Winter is a great time to do St Helens, just mind the cornice.
Watch the weather forecast. Above timberline it can be brutal with gale force winds or worse, as there is nothing between the Pacific Ocean and St Helens. I once had to beat a hasty retreat when St Elmo's fire started dancing from our ice axe picks. Navigation in fog/white out can be problematic on the fairly featureless cone. Many people have ended many miles off course on the descent.
Yes stay way back from the crater rim. Cornice collapse off the rim has killed at least two people. Save trying to get a deep view of the crater for spring/summer.
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