Mt. St. Helens

September 23, 2001

I was surprised to have only four climbers; usually I have ten climbers plus more on the wait-list. However, there are advantages to a small group. For one thing, we could all fit into my small station wagon. For another, we could be very spontaneous about stopping for whatever caught our fancy, whether it be an old-fashioned ice cream stand, a post-climb dip in a reservoir, or a meal in Portland on the return home. Most importantly, we could all proceed up the mountain at a comfortable pace without worrying about losing anyone. On Saturday we drove up and took a short walk along the amazing lava canyon and enjoyed its sensational suspension bridge. Then we had dinner at Cougar’s finest (i.e., only) restaurant. The night at 4800 ft. was the warmest I ever remember in doing this climb about five times. I figured that meant a hot climb up, so we got up with the sun and got on the trail early. Surprisingly, it wasn’t all that hot. There was a cool breeze, but nothing strong enough to blow the lava dust in our faces (like last year). It was a very pleasant 75° (or so) on the rim. Unfortunately it was as hazy as I’ve ever seen — probably from a combination of auto pollution, farm dust and lack of rain. So we couldn’t see the Olympic Range, but we still had great views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood, not to mention the crater itself. There were good huckleberries near our camping spot, but virtually none left on the bushes on the lower part of the trail. Climbers were Michael Landes, Julie McGlinsky, Beki Ries-Montgomery and Bill Montgomery, leader.

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