In September 2020, I climbed Mount St. Helens via the Monitor Ridge summer rock scrambling route. In May 2021, I climbed Mount St. Helens via the Worm Flows winter snow scrambling route. Both times I summited Mount St. Helens it was cloudy and my views were obscured. Both times I had the same crazed look on my face at the summit. And yes, both times I had on the same clothes. Check out this side by side comparison of my two summit climbs, 8 months a part, to see drastically different conditions, yet much the same experience!
Outlined below is a side by side photo comparison of my summer vs. winter route climbs to the Mount St. Helens crater rim. To view my full trip details check out my Mount St. Helens Summer Route and Winter Route reports. Note: the summer vs. winter routes are different, so the pictures are not identical. But you can consider the pictures representative of similar locations on the mountain during each climb.
My experience was dramatically different, yet the same on both trips. On the summer route climb it was hot and I rock scrambled over sharp pumice and slowly climbed through thick ash to the crater rim. On the winter route climb it was 100% snow covered and I used crampons and an ice axe to travel the snowy slopes to the top. For as different as both trips were, there were still many similarities. On both trips the clouds blocked most of the views heading up the mountain. Over 6,000 feet the blue sky opened up, only to close in again on me at the summit. Both trips were an absolute "suffer fest" up the mountain, but once I made it to top these were some of my best and proudest moments of accomplishment! Maybe, just maybe, one day I will see what is beyond all those clouds and get the views that I know are there!
Bottom of the Climb: Out of the forest trail and into the alpine. The real climb begins now!
Middle of the Climb: Heading up the seemingly endless slope and looking back down the mountain into the clouds below!
Top of the Climb: Finally above the clouds and the crater rim is straight up. So close, yet so far!
The Crater Rim: Both times my views were obscured by clouds. I know a great view exists beyond those clouds...will I ever get to see it ?!?
Selfie at the Crater Rim: Both times I look half crazed with exhaustion from the climb. And yes, both times I have on the same gear!
By the Map: Notice the winter route is longer and runs to the east of the summer route, until near the crater rim where the routes join paths.
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