Climbers Bivouac Trailhead

Area Status: Open
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.


At a Glance

Current Conditions: 07/03/2023: Climber's Bivouac is open for the season. The Monitor Ridge Route has not been maintained yet this year. Expect snow throughout the route especially in areas below treeline and near the summit. Permits are required and are available on each month for the following month.
Reservations: Between April 1 & November 30 permits are limited in number and purchased online in advance. 
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- December 1:  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 limit is 110 climbers per day.
  • December 1 - March 31: Permits are free of charge and self issued at Marble Mountain Sno-Park kiosk, or, if open, Climber's Bivouac.
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 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