Mount Saint Helens in snow

Trip recommendations, current conditions, and other trail related Q&A
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sgyoung
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Mount Saint Helens in snow

Post by sgyoung » October 11th, 2020, 10:46 pm

My wife and I scored two passes for MSH this upcoming Friday. The weather forecasts show the mountain will pick up some decent snow in the meantime. So, I'm wonder if there is an advantage to hiking up the winter route under the conditions?

Setting aside the extra EG, is the worm flows route the preferable if there is snow on the mountain, or is it just the "winter" route because the trailhead remains accessible?

Thanks for any advice. I will post a TR either way.

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Chip Down
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Re: Mount Saint Helens in snow

Post by Chip Down » October 12th, 2020, 6:47 am

sgyoung wrote:
October 11th, 2020, 10:46 pm
Setting aside the extra EG, is the worm flows route the preferable if there is snow on the mountain, or is it just the "winter" route because the trailhead remains accessible?
The latter: Worm Flows is used in winter just because the Climbers' Bivy road isn't open. I've done Monitor Ridge route just once, in November. With snow, of course. Went very well.

It's still a bit early to say, but it looks like you'll have good weather. Good luck!

johnspeth
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Re: Mount Saint Helens in snow

Post by johnspeth » October 12th, 2020, 7:00 am

sgyoung wrote:
October 11th, 2020, 10:46 pm
My wife and I scored two passes for MSH this upcoming Friday. The weather forecasts show the mountain will pick up some decent snow in the meantime. So, I'm wonder if there is an advantage to hiking up the winter route under the conditions?
Usually any snow that falls this time of year will melt soon. How much snow melts depends on the weather that follows the snow event, of course. NOAA predicts rain at 6K ft in the early part of the week followed by sunny weather on Thursday. My guess is the snow will be melted except for maybe the top. If I had the tickets, I'd go.
sgyoung wrote:
October 11th, 2020, 10:46 pm
Setting aside the extra EG, is the worm flows route the preferable if there is snow on the mountain, or is it just the "winter" route because the trailhead remains accessible?
The winter route is always open. The summer route closes seasonally but at variable dates. Assuming the snow does melt, I'd climb from climbers bivouac on Friday. If the road is closed, you can just travel to Marble Mountain Snow Park.

My estimation is you will have a low risk adventure from climbers bivouac on Friday with perhaps some wet snow at the top, maybe some ice but it'll be bootable. This is a great time of year to hike MSH: fewer people and cold weather so no excessive sweating.

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sgyoung
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Re: Mount Saint Helens in snow

Post by sgyoung » October 12th, 2020, 1:11 pm

This is great! Thanks for the quick input Chip and johnspeth. It's appreciated. I'm crossing my fingers for clear skies (and manageable winds) since our first trip up MSH features about 20 feet of visibility at the crater rim.

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kepPNW
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Re: Mount Saint Helens in snow

Post by kepPNW » October 13th, 2020, 7:25 am

Winter route looked pretty gnarly yesterday, with gaping "crevasses" in the Swift remnants. In the morning, following two or three days of rain and snow, postholing through the boulders on Monitor Ridge presented a real risk. Fresh snow down to 6000', ice up high, both in non-remarkable quantity. By afternoon, the boulders had become far more manageable. Same will likely be the case on Thursday. Friday should be glorious if the predicted winds don't materialize. Would steer anyone (who lacks an intense desire for "interesting times!") towards summer route still.
Karl
Back on the trail, again...

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sgyoung
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Re: Mount Saint Helens in snow

Post by sgyoung » October 18th, 2020, 11:23 am

kepPNW wrote:
October 13th, 2020, 7:25 am
Winter route looked pretty gnarly yesterday, with gaping "crevasses" in the Swift remnants. In the morning, following two or three days of rain and snow, postholing through the boulders on Monitor Ridge presented a real risk. Fresh snow down to 6000', ice up high, both in non-remarkable quantity. By afternoon, the boulders had become far more manageable. Same will likely be the case on Thursday. Friday should be glorious if the predicted winds don't materialize. Would steer anyone (who lacks an intense desire for "interesting times!") towards summer route still.
Thank for this additional info, Karl. It's appreciated.

Just to provide some closure to this thread, we ended postponing our hike (and I did some rainy/windy trail work instead). Now that we live out in the PNW - finally! - we figure it's better to pick a really perfect day after the permit season ends. We've already slogged up to the crater rim in poor weather once. But I promise a trip report when it happens.

Again, thanks everyone for taking the time to respond here! I am grateful for the knowledge of the group that posts here :)

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Chip Down
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Re: Mount Saint Helens in snow

Post by Chip Down » October 18th, 2020, 1:41 pm

Yeah, I was high on Adams the day of your planned MSH trip, and it was unpleasant. Well, I mean it was a fun hike, but not a great day to be where I was. It was damp and breezy all day, and very poor visibility.

I posted a pic in the snow-level thread showing MSH as seen from Adams on Thursday. Snow level was surprisingly high.

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