Climbing Mount St. Helens
Mount St. Helens Climbing
[Last Updated: 23
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.
Road 81-830 to Climber's
Bivouac is open. Forest Road 83 is open all the way to Ape
Canyon Trailhead and Lava Canyon.
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.
Climber's Register is located at the Lone Fir Resort,
16806 Lewis River Road, Cougar, WA. (360) 238-5210.
23 January, 2009]
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.
the latest information on volcanic activity, please see:
- Mount St. Helens Weekly Update
So You Want To Climb Mount
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.
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
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.
a full-color Visitor Guide.
St. Helens Institute Offers
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 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.
- Mount St. Helens is an active volcano. Climbers may be exposing themselves
to volcanic hazards that may occur
- Entry into the crater of Mount St. Helens is strictly prohibited.
- 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.