Mt. St. Helens Worm Flows Trip Report
Mt. St. Helens is one of the few volcanoes I hadn't checked off my list yet. With the weather looking good, and it being one of the last weekends before the permits kick in, it was looking like the perfect weekend to tag the summit.
My dad and I set off mid afternoon on friday so that we could camp at the trailhead and be ready to go on saturday morning. We quickly hit some pretty heavy traffic on I-5, which delayed us probably an hour. The last 1/2 mile to the trailhead was very snowy and even with a big truck, we just barely made it through. We got everything set up and then ate some pizza for dinner, watched a movie, and then had ice cream before going to bed. It may have been tough, but we were willing to endure these hardships to be ready for our start in the morning.
We hit the trail around 6:30 the next morning. There were still a few clouds in the sky and the temperatures were cool, but not very cold. We stopped to shed a layer after maybe 10 minutes. I was now just wearing a sun-hoody baselayer. The snow was hard and crusty, and we definitely didn't need snowshoes.
About a third of the way up, we both put our crampons on, as the route had become steeper, but the snow was still icy. This helped immensely and we continued making good progress upwards. I was still only wearing my sun-hoody, only adding a down layer when we stopped for breaks. The sky was beginning to clear, with a few small clouds remaining. It was clear enough for us to be able to see Mt Adams, Hood, and even Jefferson off in the distance. There were a lot of people on the route today, and even a few dogs. It seemed like most people were using snowshoes or crampons, and there weren't as many people using skis or snowboards as I had expected.
We reached the summit around noon. It was very windy and very crowded, with almost no good place to sit down. We were careful to stay away from the edge, not knowing how far the cornice extended back. We decided that this wasn't a very good place to sit down for a break, so we started walking back down to find a more suitable location. We ended up walking almost a third of the way down, where we took a longer break and were able to get some food and water. By this point, the sun was out in full force and we had clear blue skies. It was quite warm, and the snow had softened considerably.
I strapped on my snowboard and began working my way down. After some initial issues, I got used to my mountaineering boot/snowboard binding combo and was able to stay upright most of the time. I met up with my dad (who was walking down) at the base of the route where the trail mostly flattens out. We walked out together for the last part of the trail to the trailhead. When we got back to the truck, we got our boots off and ate some fruit and tortilla chips, then packed up and headed home.