St Helens Lake 02/20/2020

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mountainkat
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Re: St Helens Lake 02/20/2020

Post by mountainkat » February 26th, 2020, 3:55 pm

johnspeth wrote:
February 26th, 2020, 7:23 am
Mountainkat, May I get a confirmation of your route?

You parked near the closed road gate near the Hummocks trailhead. You walked about 2 miles along the road and then left the road heading left to climb the ridgeline to the saddle between the rock arch on the Truman trail and Coldwater Peak. The saddle is near the intersection of the South Coldwater trail (230) and the Truman trail (207). Is all that correct?

My plan is to basically retrace your route but use a bike to get up the road fast. My concern is getting stuck on the wrong side of the ridge that peaks near the rock arch. I don't think I'd want to travel in that area with snow. I would anticipate danger in that area that is best avoided.
Hi John,

I think the road walk is just around a mile. We were able to take the South Coldwater Ridge trail to gain that ridge, and from there, we left the trail and continued on that ridge to the junction with the Coldwater Peak trail. When you are there on the ridge, the route along it is obvious. You will finally depart the ridge and end up generally following the direction of the Coldwater Peak trail to that final saddle. But, you first have to climb over a saddle that is at about 5200 ft elevation and then go down a bit and back up or side hill to that final saddle you talk about where the Coldwater Peak Trail meets 207, Truman Trail. That ridge with the rock arch is to the south of that final saddle, so you wouldn't end up there unless you tried to continue on the ridge south of the saddle.

I hope my wording isn't confusing. I do have a GPS track I could send you if it would help.

johnspeth
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Re: St Helens Lake 02/20/2020

Post by johnspeth » February 26th, 2020, 4:52 pm

mountainkat wrote:
February 26th, 2020, 3:55 pm
I hope my wording isn't confusing. I do have a GPS track I could send you if it would help.
Thanks for the details. I understand it all. - JJS

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teachpdx
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Re: St Helens Lake 02/20/2020

Post by teachpdx » February 27th, 2020, 7:47 am

I don't work tomorrow, and I am sooooo tempted to do this. It looks incredible!

From GE imagery, it looks like there is a road bench on the south face of Coldwater Ridge, in the 3800'-4200' level, that stops in the flat-ish drainage between the ridges. It looks like it could be a lower, safer, and more direct line than staying close to the trail and doing lots of sidehilling. That route would only incur that sidehilling in the last 1/4 mile between the two last saddles.

It also looks like it's possible to walk another mile or so up the highway and grab the ridge that's just past the East Creek bridge, up to that same flat-ish pot. Or even take the highway all the way up to the big horseshoe bend and head straight up to the St. Helens Lake saddle from there. That one's just a lot of road walking and then 1.5 miles of rather steep ascent.
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mountainkat
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Re: St Helens Lake 02/20/2020

Post by mountainkat » February 28th, 2020, 6:16 am

teachpdx wrote:
February 27th, 2020, 7:47 am
I don't work tomorrow, and I am sooooo tempted to do this. It looks incredible!

From GE imagery, it looks like there is a road bench on the south face of Coldwater Ridge, in the 3800'-4200' level, that stops in the flat-ish drainage between the ridges. It looks like it could be a lower, safer, and more direct line than staying close to the trail and doing lots of sidehilling. That route would only incur that sidehilling in the last 1/4 mile between the two last saddles.
I was out yesterday, so I missed this comment. I hope you went there today!

Yes, there is a road bench. We were on it for a few minutes but, it had deeper snow, so, we hopped up on the top part of the ridge to avoid wearing snowshoes. We were nowhere near the actual trail that goes on the north side of S. Coldwater Ridge.

You're right, the only sidehilling we did, was on that section to the last saddle. You can also avoid that by descending some and then ascending to the last saddle.
teachpdx wrote:
February 27th, 2020, 7:47 am

It also looks like it's possible to walk another mile or so up the highway and grab the ridge that's just past the East Creek bridge, up to that same flat-ish pot. Or even take the highway all the way up to the big horseshoe bend and head straight up to the St. Helens Lake saddle from there. That one's just a lot of road walking and then 1.5 miles of rather steep ascent.
I looked at that same ridge about another mile down the road before my trip, on the map, as well. I kept an eye on it along the way, too. It does seem doable, maybe even to the first saddle at 5200 ft elevation. But, it looked like the top more southern exposed part would have to be sidehilled to avoid the crags on the top ridge.

johnspeth
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Re: St Helens Lake 02/20/2020

Post by johnspeth » February 28th, 2020, 6:29 am

I hiked the originally described route by Mountainkat yesterday. The views are endless. There is very little technical competence needed until you get in the bowl below Coldwater Peak. Care should be taken to be snow safe there. I found no avalanche risk when I was there. My guess is a very warm sunny day might lead to releases of melting snow on the steep bowl faces. The rest of the snow was solidly safe as it's been through many freeze-thaw cycles. Of course, all will be different when it rains or snows again.
teachpdx wrote:
February 27th, 2020, 7:47 am
From GE imagery, it looks like there is a road bench on the south face of Coldwater Ridge, in the 3800'-4200' level, that stops in the flat-ish drainage between the ridges. It looks like it could be a lower, safer, and more direct line than staying close to the trail and doing lots of sidehilling. That route would only incur that sidehilling in the last 1/4 mile between the two last saddles.
I discovered lots of old roads up there. I was on a road for just about the whole route up until the saddle at "Blastzone Butte" (according to Gaia GPS map). They helped avoid sidehilling. I took the marked trail sidehill route into the bowl and regretted it. I corrected my sidehilling route choices on the way back.
teachpdx wrote:
February 27th, 2020, 7:47 am
It also looks like it's possible to walk another mile or so up the highway and grab the ridge that's just past the East Creek bridge, up to that same flat-ish pot. Or even take the highway all the way up to the big horseshoe bend and head straight up to the St. Helens Lake saddle from there. That one's just a lot of road walking and then 1.5 miles of rather steep ascent.
You also identified the route which I mistakenly thought Mountainkat described. It's worth consideration. I looked at it closely both from below and above. The hiking distance is half than the Coldwater Ridge route and therefore steeper. For example, I observed that after two hours of hiking, I still hadn't passed the elevation that would have put me on the same "other" ridge elevation with a half hour climb up from the road. My advice is take a bike up to that point to save some walking time. I took my bike from Hummocks to S Coldwater TH. It saved me about an hour total.

Entry at the horseshoe turn takes you to Harrys Saddle and environs which might present some difficulty getting to the Mt St Helens Lake viewpoint from there (the rock arch area).

The bottom line is: 11 miles of travel (2 miles road, 9 miles snow) and the Coldwater Peak bowl was beautiful.

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BurnsideBob
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Re: St Helens Lake 02/20/2020

Post by BurnsideBob » February 28th, 2020, 8:33 pm

A beautifully illustrated trip report that so many have found insipring.

Thanks for sharing your most excellent adventure!

Burnside
I keep making protein shakes but they always turn out like margaritas.

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CyrusK.
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Re: St Helens Lake 02/20/2020

Post by CyrusK. » March 2nd, 2020, 4:16 pm

I tried this last Thursday, but I ended up turning back before getting to the lake. I'll have to try again sometime.
Cyrus "Ice" K.

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