Mount Saint Helens is one of the best ski or snowboard mountaineering trips
in the Cascade Range. The open, treeless slopes above the extremely low timberline of 4800
ft (1500 m) allow numerous ski possiblilities with nearly infinite variations. The
standard winter and spring route is the Worm Flows, which begins from the highest plowed
vehicle access at the Marble Mountain Sno-Park (2700 ft / 800 m). This straighforward
route follows trails through forest and then heads directly up the valley of the Swift
Glacier to the crater rim. Slopes reach about 25-30 degrees near the rim, but it is easy
to ascend on skis all the way up. A scenic camp is possible just below timberline at 4500
ft (1350 m), otherwise the trip can be easily done in a day by car camping at the parking
lot. In April 1997, I skied this route with an overnight camp, and the views were
spectacular, as the twin-tailed Comet Hale-Bopp blazed above the western end of the crater
rim. Unfortunately, I had no camera at the time :-( . The trip report below is from April
2000, when we did the route as a day trip. Cloud formations this time were quite spectacular.
More info about Mount Saint Helens
and the various ski routes on it can be found in my online guidebook,
Skiing the Cascade Volcanoes.
Click on any photo to go there,
or start your tour with the first photo...
Trip Summary: Sunday, April 30, 2000
||2700 ft (800 m)
||Clear, high cirrus clouds; moderate winds, with
strong winds at crater rim, 40+ mph (60+ km/h)
||8200+ ft (2500+ m)
||20 - 50 F (-5 - 10 C)
||12 miles (19 km)
||About 100 miles (160 km)
|Total Skiable Vertical:
||5500 ft (1700 m)
||Nice windpack, corn snow, soft snow
This was a private trip, with a party of two (myself and Matt Swallows).
I skied on randonnee (alpine touring) gear, Matt used a snowboard.
Ski Mountaineering |
Photos & Trip Reports |
Equipment & Info |
Cascade Volcanoes |
Ring of Fire |