This ski tour started out as so many in the Pacific North West: warm and wet. With a perpetual low pressure forecast, we weren't expecting great ski conditions. Mt Saint Helens: Backcountry Conditions Report | Unofficial Networks

Mt Saint Helens: Backcountry Conditions Report

Matt skis a rib of the Monitor Ridge with Mt Adams in the background

Mt Saint Helens: Backcountry Conditions Report

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Mt Saint Helens: Backcountry Conditions Report

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Inside a different sort of white room: below 5,000' on Mt St Helens.

Inside a different sort of white room: below 5,000' on Mt St Helens.

This ski tour started out as so many in the Pacific North West: warm and wet.  With a perpetual low pressure forecast, we weren’t expecting great ski conditions.  Or even visibility further than ski length for that matter.  Below 5,000′ the snow was the gloppy, cloud-irradiated mush that often blankets the Cascades in the spring.

But in the PNW, perseverance pays off.  Above 5,000 the clouds began to break.  As we skinned higher, supportable patches of corn surfaced here and there.

Getting above the clouds, the crater rim appeared on the horizon.

Getting above the clouds, the crater rim appeared on the horizon.

 

By the time we reached Mount Saint Helens massive crater rim, the sky had gone blue.  The views into the crater made the 5,700′ slog completely worth the effort.

Matt works a moraine on the way to the summit.

Matt works a moraine on the way to the summit.

Inside the huge caldera, miniature Alaskan pitches run into the smoldering cinder cone.  Giant cornices form off the true summit, tempting tourists to get close to the edge and take a picture.

Mount Saint Helens smoldering crater.

Mount Saint Helens smoldering crater.

 

A skier looks into St Helens crater.

A skier looks into St Helens crater.

 

The skiing down didn’t stack up to the views from the crater.  With the exception of a few sparse corn turns, most of the snow on the southern side of the mountain was still in transition, making for some amazingly funky skiing.  This isn’t soon to change with a snowy forecast through the week.  But when the forecast does trend to high pressure, look here for a great, non-technical tour with amazing views a fun, moderate angle corn skiing.

Matt skis a rib of the Monitor Ridge with Mt Adams in the background

Matt making it look good on a rib of the Monitor Ridge. Mt Adams in the background.

Descending back into the clouds, the snow turned to glue.  The only reasonable places to ski were where snowshoers had consolidated the snow.  But we were happy to be able to ski all the way back to the parking lot!

Skiing in glue.  Matt trying to keep all of his ligaments attached.

Skiing in glue. Matt trying to keep all of his ligaments attached.

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