St Helens rim north of Ape Glacier

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Chip Down
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St Helens rim north of Ape Glacier

Post by Chip Down » June 2nd, 2019, 7:58 pm

A couple years ago I ascended Ape Glacier from Plains of Abraham. I didn't know what I was doing, just experimenting. Wanted to follow the rim north, but at 5:30pm I had to hustle down. Also, last autumn I went part way up to the northeast crater rim above Windy Pass, but gave up because loose crumbly slagheap, better to return when snow.

Dropped the car at Ape Canyon and headed up the lahar, crossed Loowit Trail, continued up and right/northeast, above East Dome, gained Ape Glacier much higher than expected because lower would have been indirect and inefficient. Near the crater rim I veered right/north, following a snowfield that beckoned last time. Took me directly to the rim, easy peasy, except that it was randomly icy the last hundred yards, and no place to stop to don 'pons, so I just probed around looking for spots soft enough to kick steps.

At the rim I had wanted to turn south to gain a high spot overlooking the top of Ape Glacier, but it was way too loose and crumbly. Would be a hassle, maybe even dangerous. Maybe could traverse on snow below the rock headed back south towards Ape Glacier, but not worth it. There would almost certainly be little reward to gaining that spot. Only the obsessive go there. Was it Dog's Head? Google says yes, but that's not a reliable source.

So I continued north on the rim to my goal, the high spot I spotted last october. This stretch of the rim is easy, just sand, nothing scary. I was at my goal sooner than expected. From there I continued along the rim northbound, dropping, very briefly, maybe 50 yards, and then a plunge that only a lunatic would consider.

Okay, so how do I get down? Stay high and traverse south, through rugged terrain? Or a gentle snow gully that offered a quick easy descent to the northern end of PoA? I waffled, but hesitated to hike the PoA on such a hot day, so stayed high and headed pretty much straight to East Dome.

That was a good choice. Lots of fun, great scenery, only one real challenge (dropping off a rock rib to a rockfall-littered moat). Crossed over Ape Glacier a little above East Dome and then had a crazy idea: what if I continued traversing clockwise until I got to Shoestring Gully? It was rugged, up/down/zig/zag, but loads of fun, watching goats who watched me watching them, only one real faux pas that was easily corrected, then down along the rim of Shoestring, across Loowit Trail, and down the lahar to the car.

Thirteen hours is a shameful time to visit the MSH crater rim, but it wasn't exactly the most direct route. Besides, I was curiously tired and fatigued around mid morning, really dragging butt up the mountain. I guess I didn't really pick up a sensible pace until I crossed over Ape Glacier on my ascent, cuz I really had to. Rockfall was a concern; I was motivated to dash from one sanctuary to the next. After that, I kept the momentum going, and started enjoying a more aggressive pace.

Snow note: Where the heck did it all go? Looks like July up there. Damn, wish I'd known, I would have been playing up there a month ago.
Attachments
0.jpg
Oops, I went too high before trying to cross this canyon. Not going back, have to keep going up until I can get over.
1.jpg
My goal to the north.
2.jpg
Looking back south. Yellow X is where I gained the rim.
3.jpg
As far north as I went (probably as far north as anybody can go).
4.jpg
Headed back south now, a little lower.
5.jpg
Pretty much the same as pic above, but now almost at East Dome, on Ape Glacier.
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Partway between Ape Glacier and Shoestring. Time pressure was setting in, really working hard now, but loving it.
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Almost there, terrain getting easier. I veered up/right and passed through that gap.
8.jpg
Looking back. Notice how the slopes looking this direction are holding less snow.
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Coming down the edge of Shoestring. Startled a couple goats, mom and kid, and they bolted down the loose gully.

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K.Wagner
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Re: St Helens rim north of Ape Glacier

Post by K.Wagner » June 5th, 2019, 4:13 pm

Thanks for the report, I had been wondering how the snow was holding out up there. Think I am going to try essentially the same route, Sat after next (15th).
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K.Wagner
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Re: St Helens rim north of Ape Glacier

Post by K.Wagner » June 10th, 2019, 5:46 pm

Is there going to be any snow left this weekend around the Loowit / Ape Canyon Trail junction?
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Chip Down
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Re: St Helens rim north of Ape Glacier

Post by Chip Down » June 11th, 2019, 4:48 am

K.Wagner wrote:
June 10th, 2019, 5:46 pm
Is there going to be any snow left this weekend around the Loowit / Ape Canyon Trail junction?
I'm predicting no. My section of Loowit on 6/9 was snowy in the forest, bare in clearings. Our new snow is melting very fast, and the next couple days should finish the job.

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Re: St Helens rim north of Ape Glacier

Post by K.Wagner » June 11th, 2019, 9:11 am

That is in line with my thoughts. Didn't want to carry water, but guess I don't have any choice.
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Chip Down
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Re: St Helens rim north of Ape Glacier

Post by Chip Down » June 11th, 2019, 7:00 pm

If it's water you're worried about, your best chance would probably be to go up the Ape Glacier drainage until you hit water. Possibly more effort than carrying a liter or two, but it's a nice little detour anyway. Whatever you do, I hope we see a report posted.

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