For the third year in a row, I spent Mother’s Day volunteering on Mount St. Helens. This year was a bit different since Climber’s Bivouac opened early and we were able to go up the Monitor Ridge summer route. Permits were also limited to 500 this year due to the fact that last year’s crowd was a bit too large for the mountain.
The Worm Flows winter route was also available and roughly 200 climbers were on each trail which helped split up the crowd. Lots of people had dresses and costumes on and we even saw a unicorn riding an inflatable shark down a glissade chute.
Monitor Ridge Conditions
The summer route is now open and free of snow until roughly 5,500 feet. It is possible to get up to the USGS station at 6,800 feet without stepping on much snow. There is some snow in the gully next to the ridge if you prefer to get in the snow earlier and avoid the scree and boulders. From the station, it is possible to take the snow most of the way up to the crater rim but there are a few spots of exposed rock and scree along the way.
Beware of the cornice at the crater rim. It’s best to keep some distance away from the edge so that you are standing on solid ground.