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Mt. St. Helens

September 16, 2000     Monitor Ridge

Summit Team:

Other Participants:

Baby Noah
Dog Cleo



On September 16, we set off on our first summit climb together.  We met at Climbers Bivouac at 8:00 sharp, where everyone but the two of us and David had camped the night before.  Salima and Andy had secured permits for all of us the night before, so we were all set. 

Our climb began  at Climbers Bivouac at 3,700 feet at the trailhead of the Ptarmigan Trail #216-A.  We then trekked 2 1/4 miles to the timberline at 4,800 feet, at which point we were thinking "this is cake"!  Baby Noah was sleeping quietly in his fully deluxe Kelty KIDS pack, and all was well.  Then we began to ascend into the rock and pumice scramble of Monitor Ridge.  We ascended about another 800 feet before Andy had to shed layers, which brought Noah to life.  Cleo was having difficulty with getting her doggie packs through some of the narrow crags of the rocky trail, and we were all questioning the feasibility of Noah's continued ascent.  Reluctantly, Andy and Christy decided to turn back and try the Loowit trail instead.

The five of us remaining pushed on, climbing an additional 3,400 feet in 2 1/2 miles to the summit.  The weather was perfect, being cool and cloudy for most of our ascent, then once we cleared the clouds, it became sunny and warm.  Above timberline, the route generally followed Monitor Ridge, climbing steeply through blocky lava flows and loose pumice and ash. From timberline the route was marked with large wooden posts to about 7,000 feet elevation. The upper 1,300 feet of the route was unmarked and covered with loose, pumice and ash.  After we had ascended to within sight of the summit, Salima's injured knee started giving out, but she pushed on with us the grueling final leg to the summit.

Upon reaching the summit, we relaxed, took pictures, and basked in the beauty of the moment for over an hour.  Salima, of course, wanted to take a nap, but we were all captivated by the scene.  We ate lunch on the upper lip of the crater, peering down at the devastation caused by the eruption 20 years ago, while Mt. Rainier towered over Spirit Lake and the crater, Mt. Adams and Goat Rocks loomed to the East, with fantastic views of Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson to the South, all floating on a fluffy layer of clouds.

The return trip was devastating to our knees, and we lost the trail for a short while, having to traverse the slope for quite some time before reaching it again, but all made it back without mishap.  All told, the 9.4 mile round trip took us up almost a mile in elevation (4500 feet), and back down again. 

Special thanks to Salima for organizing this trip.  It was an exhilarating experience for all...  For more information on the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, click here.

We have created a slide show of our trip to share with you.  The slide show contains photographs from our climb and captions for each photo.   To view the slide show, click on the link below.


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