Monitor Ridge Climbing Route


Area Status: Closed
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: 11/04/22: Monitor Ridge is closed for the season with severe winter storms leading to a closure of the Climbers Bivouac Trailhead, all climbers can now access the Worm Flows winter route from Marble Mountain Sno-Park. 10/20/2022: This year the Mount St. Helens climbing permit quota season will be extended by one month until November 30. This extension is being put in place so that managers can mitigate the potential for over 1000 climbers per day on a snow free route which is more ecologically fragile than the snow-covered winter route. The extension will also minimize safety and sanitary issues as the Climber’s Bivouac parking area can only accommodate the number of climbers that are currently permitted. In addition, the road leading to Climbers Bivouac is narrow and an overflow of climbers parking along the roadway blocks access for emergency vehicles.
Reservations: Between December 1 & March 31, climbing permits are self-issued and available at the trailhead.  Between April 1 & November 30 permits are limited in number and purchased online in advance.  All climbers and hikers above 4,800' on Mount St. Helens are required to have a climbing permit year round.
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- November 30: Climbing permits are sold online, in-advance, on a first-come, first-served basis on Recreation.gov. Permits are released in one month increments on the first day of the preceding month throughout the permit quota season, ending October 31. For example, April permits are released on March 1. All releases occur at 7:00 AM Pacific Time. 
    • April 1- May 14: Daily limit of 350 climbers.
    • May 15- November 30: Daily limit of 110 climbers.
  • December 1- March 31: No limit on number of climbers. Permits are free of charge and self issued at the trailhead.
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Best Season: Summer
Busiest Season: Summer
Closest Towns: Cougar, WA
Water: No
Restroom: Vault toilet at trailhead and timberline
Operated By: Forest Service

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. 


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

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities

Mountain Climbing

Recreation areas with activity Mountain Climbing:

General Info:

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

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

Location

 
  Elevation : 
3,800' - 8,365'