Mount Saint Helens

 

You have to really love what you do to do what we did. We are flaky. We are impulsive. We will drop and shift all plans for the perfect window. And that’s what we did. I love my coworkers.

This is a 12 mile roundtrip hike up arguably the most famous American volcano. Permits are required and restricted typically every May through October if you want to summit.  Permits

All gone? Try this site for more luck. Purmits

I always plan for around 1-2mph pace so there is plenty of time to take photos, and because, well it’s hard. Extra gear needed: crampons, ice axe

We left at 11pm the night before. Matt drove, which was great, so the girls could get a tiny cat nap in. He made great time. Coffee and good music help. Somehow we were geared up and on our way around 3:30am. The air was cold, but thick. Layers kept going on and off as we hiked through the forest until about 2 miles in we reached the clearing. We paused to look at the stars, so many tiny white specks illuminating the volcano. It looked too far away, and in several more agonizing hours we would be at the top looking into the big empty space.

My body was not as awake as I thought I’d be. I’m a morning person that can sleep anytime anywhere. So I thought I’d be able to take a nap before we left and be fine. My body was not happy with me and I was struggling to keep up. The snow was all ice at first, with a tiny incline. So it meant no need for extra foot gear, which means all the weight is on my back. Once we got to the clearing I needed to lighten my load. I strapped on my crampons, yay a whole pound and half lighter. Before long the rest of the group put on crampons as first light was breaking around us. Julie and I took a while to get ours perfectly adjusted, so Matt went up ahead stating we would catch up to him. He had brought his skis up, so it made since we’d be faster. (We didn’t meet up again until the final push.) The sun rose at some point, but so had the clouds, and so had the wind. Thank you crampons for rooting me in the ice.

Matt was catching up to the other specs on the mountain above us, and it looked like he made a friend. Julie and I took small breaks to refuel. She’s a fan of GU, I’m a fan of stingers. I also brought pizza, pineapple pizza, so I think I won the refuel contest. Julie got set in a zone and was going slightly faster, I came to the point where I could hear my belly over the wind. I took a much needed pizza break as I said hello to the other specs now passing me. All the dots seemed to have some struggle. The trek up was the worst ever. There wasn’t a single file boot path slog. Everyone had plunge stepped the night before which turned everything into a jagged icy mess. That pizza really helped. I catch up to everyone for the final push. I wasn’t so sure I’d even make it to that point. I was gassed. The wind was blowing so hard I couldn’t hear anyone else. I couldn’t see how tired they were. So I led the struggle, and we made it. The cornice is massive this year. We only went as far as the other footsteps, but it felt too far still. We barely had any good photos, as the wind was relentless blowing up bits of snow constantly in every direction. We saw what we could before we had to start moving again. So then came the fun part, right? Nope, no good glissading either. It was plunge step after plunge step, adding shapes to the mountain as everyone did before us. DCIM174GOPRO

 

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