Mount St. Helens Summer Climbing Route: Monitor Ridge
ElevationAscent: 4,489' 1,368 m
Descent: -4,488' -1,368 m
High: 8,232' 2,509 m
Low: 3,771' 1,149 m
GradeAvg Grade: 19% (11°)
Max Grade: 80% (39°)
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“This is a summertime out-and-back route to Mount St. Helens' crater rim. A permit is required.”— Chris Flashhard
Be realistic about your fitness–even at a slow pace, this is an extremely challenging hike. Other than heaps of water, I recommend leather or garden gloves to save your hands through the boulder field, as these volcanic boulders can be very sharp! Hiking poles looked like they we're helpful, though I didn't have any.
Gaiters are a nice on this route to prevent volcanic debris from entering your shoes and shredding your feet.
Warm gear is a must for hanging out at the top if you arrive pre-sunrise and need to wait a bit; no matter what time of year, the wind up here is always cold.
The first section is a well-traveled trail through the beautiful forest up to the treeline. From there, the next section is through boulders and is marked by vertical posts every 100 yards or so. You'll be picking your own route through the bolder field, but keep following the posts. This may be challenging in low visibility conditions, but on a clear night we had no troubles keeping to the route. Going too far off route early in the season, you may run into some snow fields, but getting back to the route should be straightforward. After reaching the end of the boulder field, your route is primarily just slogging through the pumice and ash to the rim.
Descend along the same route you went up. The route is well traveled and popular during the day.
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