Mt. St. Helens

I headed to Mt. St. Helens to with the forecast of clear skies and warm temps. 

 It was more hot than warm, with Cougar reaching 96 and closer to I-5 it was 100.  This translated to a very warm two days on the mountain and very windy conditions above treeline.  I set off from Cougar Snowpark and walked/skinned 3 miles to the normal trailhead.  There was soo much snow this winter that the plows ran out of money which left 6 feet of snow at Marble SP.  From there it was about 1 1/2 hours to camp at 3500 feet.  I chose a spot that I could get a view of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.  The wind was still blowing at sunset so I built a snow wall around my shelter.  I woke in the morning to find the hot wind had completely melted the wall to nothing!  I started hiking up at 7:30 after having some STRONG coffee.  With 5000 vertical feet left to go, I know I needed a kick in the pants!  Hiking up easy going at first and the surroundings were somewhat surreal.  With so much snow, everything is buried in interesting formations.  There are gullies, bowls, walls, cornices and rocks everywhere which made photography a matter of point and shoot.  I felt strong until I reached about 7000 feet and with 1200 feet more to go, I nearly turned around.  I decided to push on as the wind kept the snow reasonably supportable.  I reached the summit at noon and sat there in the sun and blowing sand gazing at the view.  It is a wierd feeling to stand on the edge of a vocanic crater and look down into the “death zone.”  I recently learned that the glacier in the crater is the only glacier in the US that is growing and not shrinking.  Turning away from the crater I stared at 5000 vert of near perfect snow with no visible tracks!  This is what I came for!  After making a few slope cuts and test turns, I picked up speed and floated down the mountain.  You can’t get this much uninterupted fall-line skiing at a ski area so it’s a forieng experience to have the run not end.  Turn after turn after turn. 

I reached my stowed supplies too quickly and took off my boots and shirt and layed in the sun before packing up.  I cruised out the trail to Marble SP and then the slog of the road began.  3 miles of nearly flat on skitcky snow under a blazing sun.  By this point I was exhausted and could not wait for my Black Butte porter and red Gatorade at the car.  I made it back to the car at 4pm, safe and very tired.  I’m hoping to go back again this year, since it won’t melt out anytime soon.

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