Forums Trip Reports Mt St Helens – West Side – April 23, 2011
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  • #574799
    699 Posts

    Lots of people taking advantage of the perfect weather window in the Northwest last weekend. Headed up to Camp Muir on Mt Rainier on Friday mainly for some exercise and sunshine, ended up having some pretty good snow conditions as well. Saturday a friend of mine wanted to hit the West side of Mt St Helens. A side of the mountain that doesn’t see a lot of turning action. With the weather looking good for Saturday and still a strong snowpack down low it was a perfect time to do it. Met him in Tacoma about 7:00pm and hot the road for St Helens. We pulled into the snowpark parking lot about 10:30pm.

    Up at 5:30am, ate some breakfast, packed the sleds and were off to the west side of the mountain around 6:30am. Got to our skinning started point, geared up and were skinning by 7:15am. We were still in the shade but the sun was quickly rising. Snow was rock hard but easy skinning through the trees. Once we got above tree line the sun was in out faces but the snow was still very form and the wind started howling. As we got higher the wind wasn’t letting up and we were concerned that it might now soften up. As we got higher the snow got better, although still quite windy. Only bummer about being above tree line is that there is no escape from the wind. With the sun now on us the cold wind wasn’t too bad. About half way up we hit a section that required ski crampons. We stopped for some for some food in a spot that was somewhat sheltered from the wind. Surface was ow mixed between soft wind blown pockets and sections of ice so we left the crampons on just in case. We reached the “summit” or crater rim by about 12:30pm. Wind had died down a little by now and we took in the views.

    The ride down was fantastic. A little firm for the first few turns but then smooth after that with the occasional ice just below the wind buffed powder. The middle third was butter. The lower section had definitely been cooked by the sun and was total mush by now but still turnable. Getting back through the trees to the snowmobiles was a total much fest, but luckily was able to “ride” most of it before deciding to skin the rest back down. Boot kept it in solid mode all the way back and seemed to do OK.

    Here’s the photos. More photos at

    Sleds all packed up and ready to go.

    First view of St Helens with the sun coming up.

    At the “trailhead”.

    Navigating the trees.

    First sunlight.

    Moon still out.

    Getting out of the trees and into the sun.

    Shadow shot.

    Boot leading the way up.

    Sun trying to soften things up.

    Coming out of the valley

    A ways to go still.

    Boot making his way up

    Time for the ski crampons.

    Boot leading the way again.

    Wind blown.

    Boot getting closer.

    Some softer snow.

    Crater rim just ahead.

    Boot at the top. Looking across the crater out the blast zone toward Spirit Lake and Mt Rainier.

    Looking down our way up and run down.

    Spirit Lake and Mt Rainier

    Me at the crater rim.

    Looking across the crater to Mt Adams.

    Me and Mt Rainier

    Some turns

    Boot loving the butter.

    Looking back up.

    Still a good amount of snow down low.

    Boot making it back through the mush.

    All packed up and ready to head back.

    Not a bad day at all.

    Panoramic from the crater rim. Mt Rainier and Mt Adams.

    Archie McPhee
    78 Posts

    Hey, that looks like Pascale’s split – busted!!

    Nice tour!

    699 Posts

    @Archie McPhee wrote:

    Hey, that looks like Pascale’s split – busted!!

    Nice tour!

    Ha Ha, yes it does, except that mine is a backcountry.

    Kyle Miller
    510 Posts

    Nice work guys!!!

    Boot is a strong partner!

    875 Posts

    Right on, good score!

    165 Venture Divide/Spark Frankenburners/La Sportiva Spantiks
    163W Jones Solution/Phantom Alphas/Dynafit TLT5s
    162 Furberg


    689 Posts

    Nice John!! Raddness!!

    Is it just me, or are there some cool looking steep lines going “into” the crater itself? 🙂

    699 Posts

    @russman wrote:

    Is it just me, or are there some cool looking steep lines going “into” the crater itself? 🙂

    Absolutely, but highly illegal.

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