St Helens: Green Butte (fail tale)

Discussions and Trip Reports for off-trail adventures and rediscovering lost trails
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Chip Down
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St Helens: Green Butte (fail tale)

Post by Chip Down » June 20th, 2019, 8:05 pm

Climbers ascending Monitor Ridge will notice a striking green peak to their right. It's even more interesting, I think, from the other side, as seen from the Worm Flows route. I finally decided it was time to go check it out. I've seen it called Green Butte, but I don't know it it has an official name.

Late start, already light when I arrived at Marble Mountain Snow Park. I followed various ski trails, bushwhacked, followed Swift Creek, arrived at Loowit Trail a couple hours later than would be ideal. But it was still cloudy, I couldn't pick a route yet, so it's okay. I slowly picked my way up towards Green Butte, ran into a snow gully leading towards a smaller island of green (I'm calling it Grassy Knoll), decided to start there and wait for Green Butte to clear out.

The detour to Grassy Knoll paid off. It was loads of fun, and easier than expected. Brush was easy to avoid. As I got towards the ridgy top, and the clouds cleared out a bit, I realized there was another green peak a little higher. I made my way to the top, quickly, hoping to see the views before the clouds gathered again.

From Grassy Knoll, I worked my way over to Green Butte, taking a high snowy route for better views and easier travel. It was worth the effort, much more scenic that the direct route could possibly have been. Getting close to Green Butte, I dropped on easy slopes of snow/sand/rock, and started up the east side of the butte. I didn't get far. It was somewhat fun and interesting, and I wouldn't mind doing 50 feet of the dirt/grass/rock scramble, but this was too much. I knew downclimbing would be an ordeal. I just didn't want it that bad.

From there I visited the saddle at the north side of the butte, and curved around a bit along the west base, and watched climbers coming up Monitor Ridge. Then back up and through the saddle to the east side, where I followed a beautiful long snow gully towards Loowit Trail. That section of Loowit was new to me. I wondered how far I'd have to travel through the forest looking for the trail, but I actually ended up hitting Loowit before the forest.

I followed the trail towards Ptarmigan until it went into the trees, then turned back towards Worm Flows. With the exception of the section where it crossed my glissade chute, the trail was generally a boring walk-in-the-woods affair, and I was happy when it emerged onto the lava flow near Swift Creek. The clouds were thick, as bad as they were when I arrived in the morning, although a little higher, allowing me to see partway up the Worm Flows Route and review my day's explorations.

It rained a little on my hike back to Marble Mountain, but I didn't care. It was warmer than expected, the wind that had been predicted came later when I was low, the clouds had parted for me when I really needed to see where I was going...overall, it was a perfect day, couldn't ask for better weather. But it was a right-place-right-time thing. I'm sure there were many disappointed Monitor Ridge climbers. Oh, Worm Flows too. I was surprised to see so many climbers there on a June weekday. I actually think it's a decent summer route though.

No goats, although this would be prime habitat for them. Maybe a bit too crowded (humans). Did see a couple marmots though.
Attachments
1.jpg
Snow gully leading to Grassy Knoll. Green Butte back there to the left.
2.jpg
Part way up Grassy Knoll.
3.jpg
Looking down from Grassy Knoll.
4.jpg
Top of Grassy Knoll.
5.jpg
Approaching GB from the east.
6.jpg
This is where I gave up.
7.jpg
8.jpg
Late afternoon brought clouds, almost as thick as the early morning.

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Bosterson
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Re: St Helens: Green Butte (fail tale)

Post by Bosterson » June 20th, 2019, 8:23 pm

Image
That looks pretty steep, especially for dirt/grass/rocks of unknowable cohesion. Though it looks like more rock out of frame right, so maybe there was a more solid scramble? But nonetheless, a bit overly steep for something that isn't Sierra granite or covered in ramps and ledges or something. Sounds like bailing was wise - I have definitely climbed up things (it's always easier going up) and then been kicking myself as I tried not to die climbing back down loose dirt or "rock"... :?
Will hike off trail for fun.

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Chip Down
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Re: St Helens: Green Butte (fail tale)

Post by Chip Down » June 21st, 2019, 4:40 am

Hey Bosterson, thanks for not making fun of me. When I started up, I found conditions were just about as good as you could hope for, good solid dirt holding everything together. One of my concerns was finding a good descent route. I had no confidence I'd be able to repeat every twist and turn through the labyrinth, so I'd essentially have to treat it as new terrain coming down. In the previous pic, you get an overview from essentially the same perspective (the snow patches in the two pics correspond). You can see there's better rock to the right, towards the saddle, but it gets steeper too, and I didn't trust them to stay put. Quite likely the easiest way up is on the west side, but if I failed I'd have to retreat under the scornful gaze of the Monitor Ridge climbers. :lol:

I have no doubt a good scrambler could take a day to investigate, try different routes, find a safe easy option. I just wasn't going to be that guy.

Oh, just remembered, I also considered trying to follow the relatively easy south ridge. Just getting to it looked like a bushwhack though, and there seemed to be a few little mini steps on the ridge that might shut me down.

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teachpdx
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Re: St Helens: Green Butte (fail tale)

Post by teachpdx » June 21st, 2019, 8:25 am

I seem to recall that peak being called "Point 5997" or some number close to that, based off the elevation. I don't remember where I have seen that name, though.

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