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: May 16, 2018]

Climbing Conditions and Route Information

Climber's Bivouac is still closed.  Forest Road 830 to Climbers Bivouac and Forest Road 81 from the east are CLOSED for the winter season. Climbers use the winter climbing route out of Marble Mountain Sno-Park. At Marble Mountain, the first mile of the route is patchy snow cover and bare ground.  After the first mile, snow cover is consistent for the rest of the route. 

Be prepared for winter weather. Carry winter equipment when traveling Forest Service roads. Call Mount St. Helens Headquarters at (360) 449-7800 for the latest road conditions. .

Climbing permits are required year-round above 4800 ft. 

Sping climbing fees are now in effect!  Climbing permits are available online only, through advanced reservation, at mshinstitute.org from April 1 through Oct. 31. 

  • Winter climbing experience and equipment, crampons and ice axe highly recommeded. 
  • 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 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 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.

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!

Monitor Ridge Climbing Route is primarily used during the summer season, expected opening is mid to late June.  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!

Permits, Fees and Registration

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

April 1 through October 31: permits are available by on line advance reservations only through the Mount St. Helens Institute.

  • 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.

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.

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.