Rocks fall, steam rises, a glacier moves as the mountain rumbles. To climb Mount St. Helens is to climb a living, breathing mountain.
It’s hard not to feel moved by the experience.
John got the chance to summit St. Helens after scoring a permit in late August. While it’s not a technical climb, the five-mile route to the summit is strenuous, gaining 4,500 vertical feet. The last three miles gain more than 3,000 feet, traveling through a sketchy boulder field and what is called “the vertical beach” — a slide-y, sandy trudge to the rim.
Once you’re on top, you don’t want to leave. It’s fascinating to look inside the rim at a mountain that first blew up in 1980, then reformed its lava dome with eruptions from 2004 to 2008.
It’s time to start about planning for this very special experience this summer. Permits for the busy summer climbing season go on sale on Feb. 26, and will be snapped up quickly. For details, go to the Mount St. Helens Institute website.