Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   11/10/22

      Help keep cascadeclimbers.com going!  Please consider donating so we can keep this site going.   We have set expenses right now but no revenue.  We do hope to getting a sponsor to help out, but for now we just need funds to upgrade the site and pay for hosting and licensing. See the "DONATE" tab in the top menu.
Sign in to follow this  
David_Parker

Skiing Mt. St. Helens

Recommended Posts

With a great forecast for Sunday/Monday Feb. 25/26, Lisa Garcia and I headed to Mt. St. Helens for a winter ski descent. On Sun. am we parked at the Marblemount trail head and headed up trail #244 on skins, glad to get away from the hoards of snowmobilers. It was no more than 2 miles to get out of the forest and the overcast showed signs of breaking up as we headed up to our base camp. We found a tent site between two trees on a small ridge around 4000 ft and made camp. Some other day skiers came by and I headed up for one run with them. They had already come down from about 5,000+ft and said it was all icey. Hoping for softer snow in a slight depression we ascended to about 4700 ft on a western facing aspect. There was a few fresh inches over boilerplate and the skiing was tricky because you couldn't tell soft snow from pure ice. The best snow was eastern slopes, especially under the cornices, but these slopes were also suspect. Low angle stuff was the best. That night the full moon gave a wonderful glow to the white slopes surrounding us and we went to bed thinking about the great turns we'd make the next day. Monday dawned cold with blue skies. There was also wind, probably about 15-20 mph. As we ascended and the sllopes got steeper, the desire to be on skiis began to wane. The skins were not holding on the icy sections and ahead, a party was carrying their skis. The wind held steady so we deliberated on wether to keep the skis. My main point was that I only care to ski if it's fun. I don't need to say I did a ski descent of St. Helens. Lisa was up for holding on to them for a while longer but we had to stop to put on crampons and put the skis on our back. Another 500 ft with no improvement and I made the call. It's windy, it's icey, and in spite of the sun, I don't think the wind and temps will make things better higher up. We dropped the skis.

About another 1000 ft (around 6000) I regretted my decision. The wind stopped, the ice turned to soft snow and the temps went up. Who would have guessed? I had to go into anger management so we stopped to puff. Another party on tele boots caught us and they too were expressing regrets for dropping their skis. The higher we went the better the snow got and the hotter it got. By the top we were stripped down to fleece and you could have lit a match! (So we did!) It was agonizing to watch two guys who persevered on skis make nice turns for 2000 ft down the hill. It was easy to kick myself as we headed down until we got back to about 6000 ft. There the winds were as strong or even stronger than the morning and the slopes turned to ice again. I knew that ice went down to about 3500 ft. so I felt a little better because it was not fun skiing. Looking back, I realize how understanding mountain weather can be confusing. Standing at 5000ft on a cold, clear day with steady winds lead me to believe the wind wasn't going to be any less higher up. I now know this isn't neccesarily true! Next time I will think twice before dropping my skis.

Heres a link to some photos:http://vtour.mywindermere.com/index.cfm?ln=StHelens&username=davepark

[ 02-27-2002: Message edited by: David Parker ]

[ 02-27-2002: Message edited by: David Parker ]

[ 03-01-2002: Message edited by: David Parker ]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I sure dont regret dropping my skiis on Ranier that last time up.Boilerplate that is..w

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×