Preparing for Your Climb


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.

Mount St. Helens is not a particularly dangerous climb. Unfortunately, some accidents and injuries do occur. Most serious accidents happen when climbers slide or glissade down snowfields and are unable to stop or avoid hazards. Always control your speed and be able to stop yourself.

The crater rim is precipitous with drops of more than 1,000 feet to the crater floor. A snow cornice develops in winter and often lasts well into summer. Take great care, as portions of the rim may be unstable year-round. Stay off the snow cornice!

There are no active glaciers on the south slopes of Mount St. Helens. There are however, large permanent snow fields which may be very icy and may have large cracks caused by settling.Check the forecast and watch the weather as conditions can change rapidly.Be prepared for weather extremes.

Gear Essentials:

Reminder: Do Not Rely On Your Cell Phone In A Climbing Emergency! Climbers are cautioned not to substitute a cell phone for adequate preparedness, such as carrying the Ten Essentials, and signing in and out at the Climber's Register before and after your climb.

Conditions vary daily, even in summer.  Be prepared to experience different weather conditions at different elevations.  You can check the weather forecast for the different elevations along the climbing route here.