Joined: Sun Jul 29, 2007 9:45 am Posts: 90 Location: Vancouver, Wa.
A couple of friends that I work with at Mt. Hood Meadows and I made another summit of Mt. St. Helens. The snow is getting really sparse at the lower elevations. We did not have consistent skinnable snow until about a mile up the trail. Even here it was pretty sparse and we had a few bare spots to deal with. Once at the 4,000 foot level, we had fairly good coverage although the route finding now is more challenging if you want to stay on skinnable snow the entire way.
As a result, our only option to climb "antenna hill" required a steep ascent of nearly 40 degrees with many kick turns. In the blazing sun with no wind this was a stifling task that felt a little bit like being in an oven but once the crest of this pitch was reached, we had a steady, moderate cool breeze for the remainder of the trip.
One of my partners had some issue with one skin rolling off due to the wet, slushy snow and we had to use a Voile strap to secure the tail. I will never use another pair of skins without tail clips again. My G3 skins are money and even though I had areas of slush between the skin and my base, I had no trouble the entire climb with skin traction.
We deliberately started a little later in the day so that we could time our ride down in the cool of evening when the snow was setting back up. While many people dealt with stickiness earlier in the day, our ride was for the most part fast, smooth and buttery. Down lower though it is getting deeply sun cupped.
Ran into a few folks at the summit and we all took turns taking group photos. We got back to the snowpark well before dark and hung out drinking beer and smoking cigars and visiting with the mass of humanity camping there for their Saturday climb. The climbing register at Lone Fir in Cougar showed over 500 people for Saturday. This is why I like my days off mid week. We had maybe 40 people total on the mountain.
Due to the rapidly depleting snow base, this is it for me for St. Helens this year. It is now rapidly reaching that point where the work to reward ratio is no longer balanced. Except for a few upcoming trips to Rainer, Hood, Adams and the Goat Rocks, I am now in river running mode with a couple of John Day trips scheduled this month. Anybody looking to get some decent turns in on Mt. St. Helens better act fast as it is reaching its expiration date.