Tips for Climbing Mt. St. Helens

Mount St. Helens has become a favorite to both beginners and experienced mountaineers. Though this mountain is open for climbers all year round, the seasons of late spring to early fall are more popular compared to other seasons. If you are an experienced climber and in perfect physical condition and feel you can handle the rugged and steep terrain, you can use the famous Monitor Ridge Route from Climbers Bivouac.

Climbing a volcanic mountain has its risks, and no matter how many times you climb, you certainly can never get used to it. Some of the risks you might encounter include equipment failure, terrain traps, weather hazards, avalanches, volcanic activity, human error, etc. That is why it’s always important to do your research and get some tips before you can embark on this lifetime adventure.

Whereas the internet is full of tips to help you climb different mountains, in this guide, we will share some of the tips you might find helpful as you climb Mt. St. Helens. This includes things to pack, the routes to take, safety tips, and so much more. Read along with us to discover more.

Tips for Climbing Mt. St. Helens
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Getting a Permit for Climbing Mt. St. Helens

Before you go climbing, you need to have a permit, and you will have to book it via the website. You will have to check the day you want to climb, book the ticket, and pay up to $15 per climber per day. However, from November 1st, all the way to March 31st, tickets are free and are self-issued at the trailhead. 

Also, from March 1st, they have a sale for permits for the quota season, which usually runs from April to October.

You have to plan to secure yourself a permit. If you are working on a budget, then be sure to take advantage of the off-season sale. If you miss out on the sale, you don’t have to worry as some people cancel their permits for different reasons so you can take advantage of those situations as well. All you have to do is keep checking every morning.

What’s the Best Time to go Climbing?

You can always climb Mount Saint Helens anytime. However, the most popular time people do it is late spring to early fall. It’s easier to maneuver the terrain during this season. Also, during summer, the trailhead will start at Climber’s Bivouac.

How Long Does it Take to Climb the Mountain?

This is one question many climbers ask. During the summer, it will take about between 6 to 12 hours roundtrip to climb. Most people set off very early in the morning, at about 5 a.m., from Climber’s Bivouac. Such climbers tend to finish at around noon. However, there is no rule to this. You can always start anytime you want as long as you are sure to get back before dark for safety reasons.

Another reason why most people prefer to climb the mountain early is that the sun is not as hot and harsh. Also, you don’t have to worry about the mud, making it easier to hike. Also, there are not many people in the morning as compared to the afternoon, so you will have a more peaceful hike as well. You can always take breaks in between, even at the top of the crater and take pictures and eat some snacks. Descending takes about half an hour, but it is still kind of challenging as the trail has many rocks.

Where to Sleep the Night Before

This all depends on how close you are to the mountain. People who live locally can climb it in just one day, whereas others can camp. If you choose the latter, the best place to camp would be at the Climber’s Bivouac, near the trailhead. Keep in mind that camping spots are limited. In addition, there are no reservations, so it’s always on a first-come, first-serve basis. As such, have a backup plan just in case the camping is full.

Tips for Climbing Mt. St. Helens
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What to Bring with You

It’s essential to know the right kind of gear to carry and also to physically prepare yourself. One of the first things you should pack is water. You can never have enough water as you climb this mountain. Sometimes the streams dry up. In these instances, there is no access to water, so it’s good you carry your own. Be sure to have some snacks because you need to refuel as you climb. Also, watch the weather that day and make sure you pack the right gear.

The Bottom Line

If this is the first time you are going hiking, it might be helpful to prepare well in advance, so you don’t get tired quickly. You might consider doing some exercises, going jogging, or even hiking for a few hours to prepare yourself. Other than that, carry water, wear the right gear, and prepare for one of the most beautiful adventures, climbing Mt. St. Helens.