USDA Forest Service

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument


Gifford Pinchot
National Forest

Forest Headquarters
10600 N.E. 51st Circle
Vancouver, WA 98682
(360) 891-5000
TTY: (360) 891-5003

Cowlitz Valley
Ranger District

10024 US Hwy 12
PO Box 670
Randle, WA 98377
(360) 497-1100
TTY: (360) 497-1101

Mt. Adams
Ranger District

2455 Hwy 141
Trout Lake, WA 98650
(509) 395-3400
TTY: (360) 891-5003

Mount St. Helens
National Volcanic

Monument Headquarters
42218 N.E. Yale Bridge Rd.
Amboy, WA 98601
(360) 449-7800
TTY: (360) 891-5003

Johnston Ridge Observatory
24000 Spirit Lake Highway
P.O. Box 326
Toutle, WA 98649
(360) 274-2140

Mount St. Helens
Visitor Center
at Silver Lake

3029 Spirit Lake Highway
Castle Rock, WA 98611
(Operated by Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission)

TTY: Phone for the Deaf

Climbing Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens Climbing Update 

[Last Updated: 23 June 2009]

Winter / Spring Climbing Access: Winter snowfall and wind has formed large, unstable cornices (snow overhangs) on the crater rim (please see our climbing page and scroll down to cornice photo).  The crater rim is unstable and can be hazardous at any time.

Attention Climbers:

  •  Forest Road 81-830 to Climber's Bivouac is open.   Forest Road 83 is open all the way to Ape Canyon Trailhead and Lava Canyon. 
  •  Climbing Permits are required above 4800 foot elevation on the volcano year round and are sold online, in-advance on a first-come, first-served basis through the Mount St. Helens Institute
  •  The Climber's Register is located at the Lone Fir Resort, 16806 Lewis River Road, Cougar, WA.  (360) 238-5210.


[Updated: 23 January, 2009]

The lava-dome building eruption of Mount St. Helens that began in autumn 2004 and continued for three years appears to have ended. Therefore, the USGS has lowered the Volcano-Alert Level from Advisory to NORMAL and the Aviation Color Code from Yellow to GREEN, to indicate that monitoring parameters have returned to background conditions. Since late January, five months have passed with no sign of renewed eruptive activity.  Earthquakes, volcanic gas emissions, and ground deformation have remained at pre-eruptive background levels.

Even with the end of lava dome growth, some hazards persist. The crater rim is unstable and can collapse at any time.  Climbers are urged to stay back and use caution.  The new lava dome remains hot in places-capable of producing small hot avalanches or minor explosions that could dust areas with ash up to tens of miles downwind. Rock fall from the crater walls can produce clouds of dust that rise above the crater rim, especially during dry, windy days, as has happened in the past. Also, heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt can send small debris flows onto the Pumice Plain north of the crater. Please review Active Volcano Hazards and other Climbing Safety information (links at right).   Detailed information and FAQs about the ongoing eruption are available by visiting the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory website.  

For the latest information on volcanic activity, please see:

USGS - Mount St. Helens Weekly Update

So You Want To Climb Mount St. Helens?

[ Photo ] USGS and Forest Service Scientists stand at the rim of Mount St. Helens during an August 2005 research trip.  In the distance is Mt. Adams..

(USGS and Forest Service scientists stand at the crater rim of Mount St. Helens during an August 2005 research trip. In the distance is Mt. Adams.)

Mount St. Helens is an active volcano in southwest Washington State and the central feature of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

Mount St. Helens is a popular climb for both beginning and experienced mountaineers. Although people are able to climb Mount St. Helens year-round, late spring through early fall is the most popular season.

Most climbers use the Monitor Ridge Route from Climbers Bivouac. This route gains 4,500 feet in five miles to the crater rim at 8,365 feet elevation. Although strenuous, this non-technical climb is suitable for people in good physical condition who are comfortable scrambling on steep, rugged terrain. Most climbers complete the round trip in seven to twelve hours.

While climbing to the crater rim is permitted, entry into the crater is strictly prohibited.

Some Cornices (overhanging snow) on the Crater Rim of Mount St. Helens

Cornices are unstable and prone to sudden failure.  Extreme caution is advised!  Do not approach the crater rim unless you can find a wind-scoured area where the surface of the rim is visible.  The crater rim is unstable and is subject to frequent rockfall and collapse.  Stay back from the crater edge, it is potentially hazardous at any time of year (especially during the period of elevated avalanche danger and rockfall during the spring thaw). 

Join us for a Weekend Work Party

Become a Mount St. Helens Volunteer

and help share the wonder and protect this special place.

Explore the amazing viewpoints and trails around Mount St. Helens. 

Download a full-color Visitor Guide.

Mount St. Helens Institute Offers

Guided Climbs and Field Seminars

For the latest schedule, online registration and other event information visit the Mount St. Helens Institute website.

Climbing at a Glance

Climbing Permits

  • Climbing Permits are required year-round to climb above 4,800 feet elevation. Each person must read and sign their permit before climbing. Each person must display their permit during their climb.
  • Climbing Permits are free November 1 to March 31 and available by self-issue 24 hours a day at the Climber's Register.
  • Climber registration is required. The Climbers Register is located outside the Lone Fir Resort.  The Climber's Register has been moved to the Lone Fir Resort in the town of Cougar, Washington (5 miles east of its former location at Jack's Restaurant and Store).
  • A climbing permit fee of $15.00 plus a service charge of $7.00 per person are charged for a one day climbing permit from April 1 through October 31. The total cost is $22.00. Climbing permit fee and administrative charge are not refundable. Please plan accordingly.
  • Beginning at 9:00 a.m. PST on Monday, February 2nd Mount St. Helens climbing permits are sold by the Mount St. Helens Institute for climbing from April 1 through October 31, 2009 climbing season.
  • Climbing is limited to 100 climbers a day from May 15 through October 31. Themaximum party size is 12 people.
  • Any commercial use, including paid guiding is prohibited, unless authorized by a Special Use Permit.
  • During the winter recreation season, from mid-November through April, a Washington or Oregon State Sno-Park permit is required for parking at either the Cougar or Marble Mountain Sno-Parks.

Volcanic Hazards

  • Mount St. Helens is an active volcano. Climbers may be exposing themselves to volcanic hazards that may occur without warning.
  • Entry into the crater of Mount St. Helens is strictly prohibited.

Climber Safety

  • Every climber should be carrying the Mount St. Helens Ten Essentials.
  • While pets are not prohibited, for their health and safety you are strongly encouraged to leave them at home. If you do bring a pet, it must be on a leash six feet or less in length at all times.
  • Check our weather links web page for mountain weather and avalanche forecasts.

US Forest Service
Gifford Pinchot National Forest - Vancouver, WA
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument - Amboy, WA
Last Modified: Wednesday, 20 May 2009 at 13:29:57 EDT

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.