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Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Mount St. Helens/Worm Flows

Beautiful weather- excellent snow conditions, great views, and lots of glissading

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Early start recommended with sunny conditions.  We took a chance and left the snowshoes in camp.  Left the TH at 4:40am; it took our strong party barely over 5 hours up to get to the true summit.  By the time we started descending the snow that was marginal for needing crampons was already starting to get seriously mushy-soft.  Fortunately nearly 4000' of discontinuous glissading got us out of most of that pretty quickly - less than 3 hours to descend.  We spent close to an hour at the summit.  It seemed warm on top with the strong sun and very little wind.

Intermittent snow patches at the Marble Mtn SnoPark/TH, but plenty of places to camp overnight.  This is despite the slightly over 200 people that had permits for the day-climb.  TH is somewhat busy/noisy at night.  There would be a slight noise advantage to hiking into Chocolate Falls to camp.  I guessed that it wouldn't be worth it - you have to carry all the overnight gear and additional food, and have to deal with potty issues.  Everyone in this group seemed to like this choice.

There are just a few trilliums around the TH.  So many people have done the route that there's very little navigational or step-making challenge.

I used my crampons on the traverse from the point where we reached the rim to the true summit; they might have been needed more if we had been a little earlier.  Ice axes, helmets also used though (excepting the traverse) these generally seemed overkill.  Glissading was fairly slow in the soft snow.  Overall I'd have rated most of the trip a S-5 T-2 excepting the traverse a T-3 or 4.

This was such a fun trip!  I pity those who make this trip without snow (and with lots of volcanic dust/scree).