Mount St. Helens Summit

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

USGS and FS scientists at the crater rim of Mount St Helens

Mount St. Helens is an active volcano and the central feature of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. The mountain is a popular climb for both beginning and experienced mountaineers. Although people are able to climb Mount St. Helens year-round, late spring through early fall is the most popular season. Most climbers use the Monitor Ridge Route from Climbers Bivouac. A climbing permit is required year-round

This route gains 4,500 feet in five miles to the crater rim at 8,365 feet elevation. Although strenuous, this non-technical climb is suitable for people in good physical condition who are comfortable scrambling on steep, rugged terrain. Most climbers complete the round trip in seven to twelve hours. While climbing to the crater rim is permitted, entry into the crater is strictly prohibited.

At a Glance

Current Conditions:
  • 11/19/21: Full winter conditions exist on the mountain. Mountaineering equipment and skills, including ice axe, crampons, skis and/or snowshoes, are necessary. To see the latest climbing report, go to Current Conditions on the Mount St. Helens Institute website. Two websites to help you plan your trip are:  Northwest Avalanche Center West Slopes South and,
  • Safety Alert: A cornice (giant, overhanging mass of snow) forms every year at the summit and can release at any time, plunging into the crater. Stay well back from the edge and do not trust tracks already present. A climbing ranger noticed footprints that are clearly on snow-covered air! The acutal rim edge is probably 20 feet below and 20 feel back from the apparent rim. Walking to the edge is dangerous.
  • Glissading is the number one source of serious injuries. Take off you crampons. Do it only when the snow is soft. Beware of glissade trails that end in rocks, ice or cliffs. Watch out for glissade trails that put you in the woods far from the climbing route. Follow glissade trails that take you back towards you car.

Reservations: 11/01/2021: Mount St Helens climbing permits are now self-serve at the trailhead and there is no quota on climbers. Climbers Bivouac will close prior to the first snowstorm at that elevation or December 1, whichever comes first. To climb between April 1 & Oct. 31, climbing permits are limited and must be purchased online in advance at
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- October 31: Climbing permits are sold online, in-advance, on a first-come, first-served basis on In 2021, permits will be made available on the first of each month for the subsequent month, throughout the permit quota season, ending October 31, 2021. This is a change from previous years.
  • April 1- May 14: A quota system is in effect with a limit of 300 climbers per day.
  • May 15- October 31: A quota system is in effect with a limit of 110 climbers per day.
  • November 1- March 31: Permits are free of charge and self issued at Marble Mountain Sno-Park.
Open Season: Year-round
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Busiest Season: Late spring through early fall
  • Climbing permits are required year-round.
  • Each climber must display their own hang-tag climbing permit.
  • Permits are valid for 24 hours starting at midnight for the date of climb and are nontransferable.
  • Maximum party size is 12 climbers.
  • Access is limited to protect the volcano’s physical and biological features and processes, and to reduce crowding.
  • Entry into the crater is strictly prohibited.
  • Snowmobile use is prohibited along the Monitor Ridge and Worm Flows winter climbing routes.
  • During the limited use season, permits will be available for advance purchase only, online, first come, first served, until the daily use limit is reached. 
Closest Towns: Cougar, Washington
Water: No water at Climbers Bivouac
Restroom: Vault Toilets at Climbers Bivouac
Passes: $5/day/vehicle or a valid Recreation Pass required at Climber's Bivouac. See Mount St. Helens Map for fee and payment sites.
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center:

General Information


Climbing Routes:

South Monitor Ridge Photo from the air:

USFS Photo - South/ Monitor Ridge Climbing Route-- June 2006

General Notes:

Know Before You Go:

Some Cornices (overhanging snow) on the Crater Rim of Mount St. HelensCornices (overhanging snow) are unstable and prone to sudden failure. Extreme caution is advised! Do not approach the crater rim unless you can find a wind-scoured area where the surface of the rim is visible. The crater rim is unstable and is subject to frequent rockfall and collapse.

Stay back from the crater edge, it is potentially hazardous at any time of year (especially during the period of elevated avalanche danger and rockfall during the spring thaw).

Climbing Preparation and Safety Information

  • Climbing Safety
  • Climbing Essentials
  • Active Volcano Hazards
  • Hypothermia/Altitude Sickness

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information



Show detail SHOW
Areas & Activities


  Elevation : 


Click for NW Recreation App info

Download Our Official Recreation App! Link opens in a new window