Last year I wrote about Matt Bedrin and his dream to ski all 40 of Cascadia’s tallest volcanoes in one year...Pretty ambitious...Just before writing this post I checked back on his progress...looks like after volcano #10 ( Mt Scott ) he gave up on his dream...
Well, I didn't !
My dream wasn't that big. Inspired by his video, all I wanted to do was to go back to Mt St Helens ( I hiked the volcano in the summer time two years ago ) to see the volcano under a blanket of snow, which, as we know, makes everything more beautiful ( honestly, summer hike didn't impress me at all ). Another reason was to test my "new backcountry ski gear".
Snowshoe Routes Washington ( my trusted snowshoe guide ) describes "Mt St Helens Summit" as:
Round trip: 8 miles
Hiking time : 9 hours
Best season: late December through early February
First of all, I wouldn't call it "Backcountry" , as it doesn't require any navigation/path finding skills, and avalanche danger ( comparing to Alpental or any other "true" backcoutry ) is minimum to non-existing. That's why, this trip is perfect for novice snowshoers who are looking for a challenge, minus all the danger associated with backcounty travel.
When it comes to "best season", immediately after watching the video ( beginning of February 2010 ) I made my first trip to Mt St Helens. The weather was horrible, and the road to Marble Mountain Sno-Park parking lot was closed. That's why this time, I had to to keep a close eye on the weather and snow conditions.
Thanks to La Nina, this year, we've had lots of snow in the mountains. Though it was in the middle of the spring, with more daylight, warm weather, lot's of sun and plenty of snow, the conditions were perfect for this epic trip !
On this climb up Mt St Helens, snowshoers can simply walk straight up the deep snow piled on the flanks of the big volcano, taking a direct approach to the rim of the massive crater.That's pretty much the whole description of the route. Before you leave treeline, you follow xc ski trail # 244 which is perfectly marked. So, chances to get lot are slim to none.
Regardless of whether you want to snowshoe or ski Mt St Helens, this trip is VERY DOABLE FOR ANYBODY IN GOOD PHYSICAL SHAPE.
I got to share the mountain with a great group of people who call themselves " Wednesday Grandmas", whose oldest member was...58 !
So, if you proudly call yourself "outdoorsy", visiting Mt St Helens in winter is a must.
Next year goal : " Running to the top of Mt St Helens ...barefoot "