Trailhead: Climbers Bivouac

Area Status: Closed
Mountainous area covered in snow with trees,

A 2.7 mile winding gravel road (Forest Road 830) leads you to Climber’s Bivouac and the trailhead for Ptarmigan Trail #216A, the start of the Monitor Ridge Climbing Route. Fourteen or so tent pads with fire pits are available, as well as dispersed camping. Sites are first come, first served only. There are pit toilets, but no water.

America the Beautiful, Northwest Forest Passes or $5 per vehicle per day in the fee tube cover the recreation fee. Parking is limited, with overflow parking available at Marble Mountain Sno-Park, the parking for the winter climbing route, located about seven miles away. Please park motorhomes or travel trailers at Marble Mountain Sno-Park lots.

Click here for Mount St. Helens Summit Information.

⚠️ Important Alert: A dangerous cornice, an overhanging mass of snow formed by wind, grows through the winter on the leeward side of the wind exposed edge of the summit and crater. As it grows, the cornice can hang quite a distance over the edge, making it fragile and extremely dangerous to walk upon to get a view into the crater. Stay back at least 30 ft (9 m) from the visible edge. There may not be any flagging stakes or markers indicating the danger zone, so use extreme caution. The high summit drift may prevent you from having any view over the rim to the North. Always check current conditions before your climb.   

Click here to read the most current climbing conditions from Mount St. Helens Institute. 

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 06/07/2024: ALERT! Forest Road 830 will oficially open on June 16th as per the Motor Vehicle Use Designations. Even though the gate to Climber's Bivouac is open, there is snow on the last mile from the trailhead, and approximately 2 feet of snow in the parking lot. Please exercise extreme caution if you decide to drive to Climber's Bivouac. The road is one way and out with no turn arounds, narrow, and difficult to get out of if you get stuck. We strongly recommend that you park at Marble Mountain SnoPark and use the winter route Worm Flows to climb Mount St. Helens. You do not need any additional parking permits or to pay a day use fee at Marble Mountain. The trails have begun to converge together during melt out, creating confusion on which trailhead to return from where you started. Please contact Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument Administrative Headquarters for more information at (360) 449-7800, and press option 0 to reach the front desk.
Reservations: Between April 1st & October 31st permits are limited in number and purchased in advance online from See Permit Info below for more details.
Permit Info: A Mount St. Helens Climbing Permit is required year-round for all persons travelling above 4,800 ft. on the slopes of the mountain.
  • April 1- October 31:  Climbing permits are limited and must be purchased online in advance at In 2021, permits will be released one month at at time for purchase. Permits for April go on sale on March 1, 2021 at 7:00 am Pacific Time. Permits for May go on sale April 1, etc. This is a change from prior years. A quota system is in effect with a limit of 300 per day from April 1 to May 14. From May 15 to Oct. 31, the permit limit is 110 climbers per day.
  • November 1 - March 31: Permits are free of charge and self issued at Marble Mountain Sno-Park kiosk, or, if open and accessible, the trailehead at Climber's Bivouac on Forest Road 830.
Usage: Heavy
Best Season: Summer
Busiest Season: Summer
Closest Towns: Cougar, WA
Water: No
Restroom: Vault Toilet (2)
Passes: America the Beautiful or Northwest Forest Pass accepted at trailhead.
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center:  

General Information


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. 

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Mountain Climbing

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, in addition to crampons 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

Day Hiking

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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  Elevation : 
3700 - 4400