Monitor Ridge Climbing Route

  

USFS Photo - South/ Monitor Ridge Climbing Route-- June 2006

The Monitor Ridge Climbing Route is the primary route used by climbers during the summer to reach Mount St Helens Summit. It is a non-technical scramble, gaining 4,500 feet in 5 miles. Most climbers complete the round trip in 7 to 12 hours.

The climbing route used in the summer months begins at Climber's Bivouac south of the volcano. At 3,700 feet elevation, Climber's Bivouac has the highest vehicle access on Mount St. Helens. Start on Ptarmigan Trail #216A which climbs 1,100 feet in 2 1/4 miles to timberline at 4,800 feet elevation.

Above timberline, the route generally follows Monitor Ridge, climbing steeply through lava flows and loose pumice and ash. From timberline the route is marked with large wooden posts to about 7,000 feet elevation. The upper 1,300 feet of the route is unmarked and covered with loose, rock, pumice and ash. On your descent, take care to stay on route. A minor detour may put you far off route at timberline.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 04/16/2015: Forest Road 830 and Climbers Bivouac are closed for the winter season. View the climbing update.
Reservations: April 1 through October 31 - Climbing permits are sold online, in-advance, on a first-come, first-served basis through the Mount St. Helens Institute.
Permit Info: Climbing Permits are required year-round for each person and each day they will be traveling above 4800 ft elevation, on the slopes of Mount St. Helens.
  • April 1 - October 31 - Climbing permits are sold online, in-advance, on a first-come, first-served basis through the Mount St. Helens Institute. 
  • May 1 through October 31- A qouta system is in effect with a limit of 100 climbers per day.
  • November 1 thru March 31- Permits are free of charge and self issued at Marble Mountain Sno-Park.
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Best Season: Summer
Busiest Season: Summer
Restrictions: Climbing quota of a 100 climbers per day is in effect May 15th thru October 31st.
Closest Towns: Cougar, WA
Water: No
Restroom: Vault toilet at trailhead and timberline
Passes: A valid Recreation Pass is required at Climbers Bivouac.
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument Headquarters & Visitor Centers

General Information

Directions:

This route begins from Climbers Bivouac off Forest Road 81-830. 

From Cougar, WA take Lewis River Road/Forest Road 90 east for 6.4 miles then go left on Forest Road 83. Follow Forest Road 83 for 3 miles then stay left onto Forest Road 81 and go about a mile to Forest Spur Road 830. Go right at Forest Road 830 and drive about .4 miles to the trailhead. 


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General Notes

It is important for climbers of any Cascade summit to be aware of a few things:

  • Climbing parties should use good judgment and take special care of weaker members and novice climbers (Always think Safety is Item Number One)
  • Be prepared for treacherous slopes (steep, slick, with dangerous runouts), especially on descent, going from the basin at timberline to the crest of Monitor Ridge
  • Before climbing, gain knowledge of competent use of an ice axe or ski poles on all snow slopes, and the ability to self-arrest a fall under any conditions
  • Be aware of receding snow on current glissade paths higher on the Mountain, exposing rock hazards
  • Stay well back from cornices that still remain along the summit rim
  • Prepare for warming temperatures demanding that climbers carry three liters of water at a minimum
  • Know and use proper footwear, clothing, sun protection and sunglasses!
  • Prepare and carry gear for bad weather
  • Carry a first aid kit and being able to use itit is important for climbers of any Cascade summit to be aware of a few things:
  • Climbing parties should use good judgment and take special care of weaker members and novice climbers (Always think Safety is Item Number One)
  • Be prepared for treacherous slopes (steep, slick, with dangerous runouts), especially on descent, going from the basin at timberline to the crest of Monitor Ridge
  • Before climbing, gain knowledge of competent use of an ice axe or ski poles on all snow slopes, and the ability to self-arrest a fall under any conditions
  • Be aware of receding snow on current glissade paths higher on the Mountain, exposing rock hazards
  • Stay well back from cornices that still remain along the summit rim
  • Prepare for warming temperatures demanding that climbers carry three liters of water at a minimum
  • Know and use proper footwear, clothing, sun protection and sunglasses!
  • Prepare and carry gear for bad weather
  • Carry a first aid kit and being able to use it