For Novice and Experienced Mountaineers -
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Climbing Mount St. Helens - Important information is
available from the Mount St. Helens Institute
Mount St. Helens is a popular climb for both beginning
and experienced mountaineers. Although people are able
to climb Mount St. Helens year-round, late spring
through early fall is the most popular season.
Climbers must have a permit. It is recommended that
reservations be made well in advance. Reservations can
be made online through the Mount
St. Helens Institute
From April 1 through May 14, a permit is required.
From May 15 through October 31, a permit is required.
Only 100 permits are issued per day.
From November 1 through March 31, a permit is required
but there is no charge.
Climbers Bivouac can be accessed by taking State Route
503 from Interstate 5 at Woodland.
Most climbers use the Monitor Ridge route from Climbers
Bivouac. This route gains 4,500 feet in five miles to
the crater rim at 8,365 feet elevation. Although
strenuous, this non-technical climb is suitable for
people in good physical condition who are comfortable
scrambling over steep, rugged terrain. Most climbers
complete the round trip in seven to twelve hours.
PERMITS FOR APRIL - OCTOBER 31 SEASON
PERMIT SYSTEM for permitted climb dates.
All climbers must register and obtain a climbing permit.
Weather and Avalanche, Climbers should be prepared for
extreme weather and rapidly changing climbing and
weather conditions. Please update yourself with the
latest avalanche and weather forecasts. Check Here for
Growth of the new lava dome inside the crater of Mount
St. Helens is in a pause state. Please note an eruption
could intensify suddenly or with little warning and
produce explosions that cause hazardous conditions
within several miles of the crater and farther downwind.
Climbing an Active Volcano
At 8,328 feet high (as measured by USGS in 2009), Mount
St. Helens offers climbers a breathtaking view from the
crater rim. Although it is not a technical climb, it is
strenuous and hazardous due to ice, large boulders,
loose pumice, fast-changing weather and volcanism.
Climbers should be in very good physical condition, well
equipped, informed about volcanic hazards, and have
plenty of water and food.
The Mount St. Helens Institute has partnered with the
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument to help
protect the volcano’s fragile features and to ensure
climbers have a safe, low-impact experience on the
Before climbing Mount St. Helens, please read climbing
rules, road and trail conditions, and other important
information from the
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.
If you already climb and hike, you already know about
the basic Ten Essentials. Never leave the trailhead
without them! Below is a list of Mount St. Helens
Climbing Essentials and include the 10 essentials and
more. The best thing to do is know your limits and
practice good judgment.
All climbers are recommended to carry:
Climbing Helmet or Hard Hat
- Protect your head in the event of volcanic
ballistics or rock fall.
Dust Mask (N95 type) - Cover
your mouth and nose in the event of ash fall or
blowing dust. Dust Masks (N95 type) should be
available from any large hardware store.
Goggles or Sunglasses with
Side Shields, Sunscreen - The Sun reflecting off of
snow and ash is intense. Avoid contact lenses, as
blowing ash and dust can be a problem. And don't
forget a hat.
Climbing Boots - Sturdy,
comfortable hiking boots (lug soled, waterproof,
with angle protection ¾ shank) and gaiters
(waterproof to keep rain, snow, ice, ash and pumice
out of boots).
Map, Compass, Route Markers
- Use them to know where you are and where you are
going. Be sure to tell someone at home of your
First Aid Kit - You may need
to come to your own rescue, or help someone else. Be
Knife - Handy for all kinds
of purposes, especially the type with extra tools.
Extra Food and Water - Bring
at least two quarts of water per person. No water is
available at Climbers Bivouac or on the climbing
route. Carry plenty of food (high energy food
recommended) to snack on all day. Reduce packaging
to eliminate trash.
Extra Clothing - A beautiful
sunny morning can turn into a cold rainy afternoon.
Plan ahead! Layered clothing including full rain
gear, gloves and hat.
Layering allows you to
adjust your clothing to different exertion levels
Emergency signal device ·
Emergency Shelter - Yes, you planned to be out on
one very long day. Be prepared just in case that
longer day turns into something much longer.
Head lamp or Flashlight,
extra batteries, and bulb - A necessity when the day
is short and the trail is long.
Be sure to tell a friend or
relative where you are going and check in with them
you return. Having someone that will notify
authorities if you don't return can help get you the
assistance you need when you need it most.
(recommended), Waterproof matches, lighter or
We have space on busy weekends. The Mount St. Helens
Institute offers guided climbs led by qualified leaders
or by geologists who enlighten climbers to the volcano’s
dramatic past, recent eruptions, and ongoing volcanism.
Read more about the
Institute’s guided climbs. For those who desire a
geology-focused climb, read more about the “Geology
on High” climbs with a geologist.
Registration & Permits
You must register and have a permit to climb Mount St.
Find out how to register. Climbing permits are
required year-round above 4,800 feet on Mount St.
Helens, and fees vary depending on the season.
Find out how to obtain a permit.
Mount St. Helens is not merely a mountain—it is an
active volcano. You need to be prepared for extreme
weather, possible ash fall, and other hazards.
Read about how to prepare for your climb.
In the summer, climbers usually start their ascent in
summer by camping the night before at Climber’s Bivouac.
Read more about
Climber’s Bivouac and its free Fireside Chats.
Questions? Email the Institute at email@example.com
or call (360) 449-7883.
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In October 2004, the Washington
Trails Association selected eight hikes in the Gifford
Pinchot National Forest that provide spectacular views
of Mount St. Helens. Trail reviews are provided.
Badger Peak Trail: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
10-mile round-trip; elevation gain 1,600 feet with a
high point of 5,664 feet. The best spot in the Dark
Divide roadless area for dramatic views of Mount St.
Helens and the blast zone.
High Rock Trail: Gifford Pinchot National Forest 3-mile
round-trip; elevation gain 1,400 feet with a high point
of 5,658 feet. A steady climb to a lookout with views of
Rainier, Adams, and St. Helens.
Strawberry Mountain Lookout Trail: Gifford Pinchot
National Forest .75-mile round-trip; 500 feet elevation
gain with a high point of 5,464 feet. Drive most of the
way to view the volcano from this awesome lookout sight.
Tongue Mountain Trail: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
3.5 mile-round-trip; elevation gain 1,300 feet with a
high point of 4,750 feet. Hike through groves of pine
trees to a lookout where Adams, Rainier, and St. Helens
are all magnificent on the horizon.
Juniper Ridge Trail: Gifford Pinchot National Forest 8
miles round trip; elevation gain 2,000 feet; high point
5,611 feet. A classic hike with dramatic views of
volcanoes and the Cispus River below.
Sunrise Peak Trail to Jumbo's Shoulder: Gifford Pinchot
National Forest 7-mile round-trip; elevation gain 2,000
feet with a high point of 5,500 feet. This steep trail
takes you through fall-foliage meadows to a view of the
Hamilton Butte Trail: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
1.5 mile-round-trip; 900 feet elevation gain with a high
point of 5,772 feet. This area was buried in pumice when
Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980. A great short hike.
Guided hikes are often a great way to go, especially
when you're not familiar with the areas. Checkout
Cascade Pack and Paddle, LLC to experience the beauty
offered in Cowlitz County!