Mount Saint Helens Monitor Ridge November 4th 2012
This climb really doesn't fit well with the mood of this trip report but where else am I going to put it...figured I'll just throw it on the end here. The weather called for semi-decency to I called out on NWHikers to see if anyone was interested in a Friday jaunt up Saint Helens. Pat responded and we agreed to give it a go. I met him at a hotel about halfway down and we carpooled from there early that morning. We got to the trailhead without any problems but we could easily see it was going to be a cloudy climb. At first we had an amazing sunrise from the trail and views to Mount Adams were incredible with all the fresh snow on it. We broke treeline and started up Monitor Ridge. Only 1000 feet above treeline however we entered clouds, then patchy snow, then eventually continuous snow. At times there was 6-10 inches of fresh snow covering rock which was tedious but I led through and we broke out on the upper slopes which was a simple hike up somewhat ice snow. Pat didn't have traction so I gave him my microspikes to use while I used the crampons. That probably saved his day and we continued up in a whiteout. We kept looking at the altimeter knowing we had to hit a huge cliff soon. We finally got to the crater rim where the winds tripled in speed. We avoided the cornice and turned left, followed the rim a ways to the true summit and were greeted with some peak-a-boo views...but that was all we got. Since the winds were not showing any signs of relenting we quickly headed back down. Once we got below the clouds we could see once again and some of the photos actually came out nice. We were back at the car well before dark.