Mount St. Helens Summit

Area Status: 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.

⚠️ 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: 04/02/2024: Forest Road 83 is clear to Marble Mountain Sno-Park. Ice is present on the climbing route past the treeline. Ice axes and crampons are strongly recommended. Starting April 1st, you must have a climbing permit purchased from Recreation.Gov until November 1.
  • Know Before You Go: Check the Climbing Conditions Report via Mount St Helens Institute. Follow @MtStHelensNVM on Twitter. Check Mountain Weather Forecast.
  • 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! The actual rim edge is not where it appears to be. Walking to the edge is dangerous. 
  • Glissading is the number one source of serious injuries. Take crampons off & glissade 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. 

Reservations: Between April 1st & October 31st, permits are limited in number and can only be purchased online in advance through  
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 1st - October 31st: Climbing permits are sold online, in-advance, on a first-come, first-served basis on Permits are released in one month increments on the first day of the preceding month throughout the permit quota season, ending November 1. 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 - October 31: Daily limit of 110 climbers.
  • November 1 - March 31: No limit on number of climbers. Permits are free of charge and self issued at the trailhead.
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 & Marble Mtn Sno Park
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).

Review Winter/early Spring Climbing Tips

Review all Climbing Preparation and Safety Information including:

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

Mount St Helens Climbing Overview Video:

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Mountain Climbing

Recreation areas with activity Mountain Climbing:

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Elevation :