Cascades: Mount St Helens - The Weather Service Lies!

 Photo by Benny Haddad

Today we faced our first real objective of the trip: Mount Saint Helens via Monitor Ridge.

Mount St. Helens (Louwala-Clough) is an active stratovolcano in Washington State.  It is probably most famous for it's catastrophic eruption in 1980.  At 8,366' in elevation it isn't known for it's spectacular height or it's need for technical climbing skills, but it is a fantastic introduction to climbing in the Cascades, with their impressive prominence, exposure to the elements, unrelenting steepness, and loose sharp volcanic scree.

 

Our trip took us from the Climber's Bivouac up Monitor Ridge, the most popular route to the summit.  We were promised clear skies and hot weather, so we opted for an early start time to avoid being baked on the shadeless slopes.  But you know what?  The weather service lies!!  No.  That's really not true.  They do their best to provide a good forecast, but one of the earliest lessons you need to learn in the mountains (especially in the Cascades) is that the weather is unpredictable and can turn on you at the trop of a hat.  Instead of bluebird skies, we spent our day hiking through swirling mist and fog, with some light scattered showers, and intense winds.  Honestly, after getting used to unrelenting sunshine in California, it was sort of a nice change and added some great atmosphere to our hike.  And hey, when we did get some breaks in the clouds, we were treated to some amazing views, with rainbows above, below, and right in front of us.  And with our wool clothes from Ortovox, sturdy boots from Salewa, and water resistant Deuter bags, we were well kitted out for the weather.  Thanks again sponsors!!!