Mount St. Helens Climbing Report

In case of a lost or overdue climber please call the Skamania County Sheriff at (509) 427 9490.  In case of emergency dial 911.

[Last Updated: January 16, 2020]

Climbing Conditions and Route Information

Forest Road 830 to Climber's Bivouac is CLOSED. 

Worm Flows Climbing Route is the most direct route to the summit of Mount St. Helens during the winter/spring season.  From Marble Mountain Sno-Park use the Swift Ski Trail #244 to reach timberline.  Cross to the west side of Swift Creek, just above Chocolate Falls (elev. 3,700’).  Follow ridges and open slopes to the crater rim.  Wooden route marking posts guide climbers from timberline to approximately 4,800’ elevation, 8 to 12 hours round trip.  Stay Back from the Cornice!

Please carpool with your fellow climbers and follow all posted parking regulations to minimize cars and trailers at the Sno-Park. Woodland Park & Ride and the Cougar Rest Area are both excellent places to meet and carpool from.

The last vertical 800' to the summit leaves the ridge and crosses a snowfield, and conditions high on the route may require traction and winter climbing techniques (ice axe, crampons or microspikes).

  • Beware of fast-changing weather. 
  • Do not attempt to summit during risk of thunderstorm.  
  • A cornice is present at the crater rim, so please stay back 10 feet from the ledge, and avoid the crack that indicates the sagging cornice. Glide cracks are beginning to appear in the gullies beside the route and may be covered with thin snow bridges. Pay attention to cracks on either side of your route and avoid obvious hazard areas.
  • Not much snow left for skiing or snowboarding, though a few thousand feet is possible.
  • Always scout glissade trails before descending, as many rocks have begun to melt through. Take caution- it is easy to descend away from the climbing route. Do not just follow the "fall-line" on your descent. 
  • Route finding may be challenging in dense cloud or fog; be sure to know the route and carry navigation equipment.
  • Call Mount St. Helens Institute at (360) 449-7883 for the latest conditions. Bring map, compass and GPS and know how to use them.

Climbing permits are required year-round in Closure Area #2 (above treeline).  

From Nov. 1 to March 31, sign in and out at the Climber's Registers located at Climber's Bivouac or Marble Mountain Sno-Park and pick up a permit there.

Safety on the Volcano

  • Use caution near boulders as snow is unstable and post holing can lead to injury.
  • Be prepared for sudden changes in terrain conditions and weather.
  • Please check Mountain Weather Forecast and Avalanche Forecast before you begin your climb.
  • There is NO WATER at Climber's Bivouac or Marble Mountain Sno-Park. It is advised to bring at least THREE OR MORE QUARTS OF WATER PER PERSON during your climb.
  • To reduce your exposure to avalanche potential, avoid cornices, snow loaded slopes and gully bottoms. 
  • Your safety is your responsibility.  Bring the right gear and know how to use it.
  • It is recommended that you have and know how to use an ice axe and crampons when traveling on snow covered slopes.
  • STAY BACK FROM THE CORNICE!  For your safety we recommend standing 20 feet back from the crater edge.
  • Most accidents and lost climbers are due to glissading.  Please control your speed and be able to stop.  Look around and know where you’re going before you start glissading.
  • There are restrooms at the Marble Mountain & Climber's Bivouac parking lot, but no water.
  • A Washington State Sno-Park Pass is required to park at Marble Mountain and Cougar Sno-Parks Dec. 1- March 31.

Permits, Fees and Registration

Permits are required year-round for each person travelling above 4,800 ft elevation.

November 1 through March 31: permits are self-issue and free of charge.  Climbers can obtain permits at the Climbing Register at Climbers Bivouac and Marble Mountain Sno-Park.  A Washington State Sno-Park Pass is required at Cougar and Marble Mountain Sno-Parks between Dec. 1 and March 31. Passes available at Lakeside Country Store or Cougar store, both in Cougar, WA.

April 1 through October 31: permits are only available by online advance reservations.  Permits for 2020 season will go on sale March 18 beginning at 7:00 a.m. PDT. 

  • April 1 through May 14: a climbing quota is in effect and limited to 500 climbers per day.
  • May 15 through October 31: a climbing quota is in effect and limited to 100 climbers per day.

‚ÄčMonitor Ridge Climbing Route is primarily used during the summer season.  Follow the Ptarmigan Trail #216A, blue diamonds mark the trail, to timberline.  Wooden posts help guide climbers to 7,800' and past that follow the open slope to the crater rim.  Climbers can expect a 6 to 10 hour round trip climb. Stay Back from the Cornice!

A Northwest Forest Pass or American the Beautiful Pass is required to park at the Climber's Bivouac Trailhead. Day passes available for $5 cash at the trailhead. There are pit toilets available, but no running water. Please plan accordingly. Advanced-purchase climbing permits are required (found at Recreation.gov), and climbers will need to register in the log book at the climber's kiosk at the trailhead before climbing.

Volcanic Activity

Growth of the new lava dome inside the crater of Mount St. Helens is in a pause state.  Please note an eruption could intensify suddenly or with little warning and produce explosions that cause hazardous conditions within several miles of the crater and farther downwind.





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