To The Top Of The Mountain

In July of 2004, shortly before the mountain was shut down due to dome building activity, my son Andrew and I decided to climb Mt. Saint Helens.    This is our story in pictures, hope you enjoy. Click on any picture (except the panorama) to enlarge.

base camp

Base camp at Campers Bivouac about 5 am.  The goal is in the background.  It is best to start as early as possible in the summer mainly  because it can be quite warm for much of the way.

Andrew resting at forest trail The total distance from our camp to the top is about 4 to 5 miles.  The first 2 miles is a steep trail through conifers, mostly Douglas Firs.  This is Andrew, by the way.  He is looking pretty chipper right now but it won't be long and he will be changing his tune.

This is the end of the forest.  From here it is all boulder strewn hill side for a while.  We have been climbing from the south side of the mountain which was largely unaffected by the eruption which is why there are mature forests.

The explosion was mostly to the north which will be more obvious when we reach the top.

Andrew almost out of forest
first hill This is the end of the tree line.  You can see the start of a glacier up a head.  It is pretty steep terrain.  Poles are the only thing that mark the path.
half way up This is about halfway up time wise that is.  It is slower now that we are picking our way through the rocks.  Those glaciers behind us will make the trip down faster.  We will slide down on our packs (empty by then) like sleds being careful not to slide too far, off a steep cliff or into a crevasse.  That's me (Steve) by the way.
Yep, there's Andrew peeking over that ridge.  He's starting to feel a little less chipper than he was before. Andrew's head peeking up above a rock
Chippy the Chipmunk on a rock If you look closely at the rock you can see Chippy.  Yep he's been following us for a while and soon he will demand his "toll".  Escorting hikers up the mountain is hard work don't ya know.
Ok so here I am paying Chippy (sunflower seeds work best although trail mix is also good).  It is starting to get a little windy and cool at the same time I'm glad I've got some sun screen on. Chippy says we're almost out of the rocks and into the sand which means we're close to the top but is also harder to climb (almost like a sand dune).  Thanks Chip see ya later. Steve feeding Chippy
Here's Andrew at the top.  He was wondering if he would make it and now that he did he feels great.  A little lunch and we will slide back down Andrew at the top of the mountain
Steve at the top of the mountain Ok so I made it too.  There's nothing like being on top of a mountain even if it is one that likes to hiccup every 100 years or so.  This little jaunt will take us about 9 hours round trip (we were going slow, blame it on Chippy) .
So if you get to climb the mountain say hello to Chippy for me or one of  his great great grand kids (western chipmunks have a 7 year life span).  I'm sure they'll be there, don't forget the sunflower seeds.

Panorama of top of Mt. St. Helens

Facing north, you can see the direction of the explosion.

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© 2005 Steve Hammond                                                       Document made with Nvu