Mount Saint Helens via Worm Flows Route
This is a great introduction to mountaineering for new climbers! Do not let 'non-technical' fool you, Mt. Saint Helens is still a major climb and requires adequate fitness and preparedness. Weather can change in a moment, so do not leave the jackets at home with even with a perfect forecast. Expect high winds and changing conditions, but also a fun climb and tremendous achievement!
This climb is 12 miles round trip and gains 5,699 to the true summit. Under no circumstances should you be within 5 feet of the crater rim.
Winter climbers can self-issue their permits at the Climber's Bivouac trailhead. No fee is required for permits between November 1 and March 31. If you'd like to summit St. Helens in the spring, summer, or fall, a paid permit is required. Learn more by visiting their website.
Park at the Marble Mountain Sno-Park to access the winter trailhead. You will need to purchase a sno park parking pass which can be done online or locally at posted stores on the way up to the trailhead. It is recommended to do this ahead of time.
The Worm Flows Climbing Route, from Marble Mountain Snow-Park, is the most direct route to the summit of Mount St. Helens during the winter season. Ice axe, crampons, and avalanche awareness are recommended on this route. Skis with climbing skins or snow shoes with cleats are also highly recommended. Looking for the summer route? Find it here.
Named for the rivers of rocky lava that surround the trail, the 10.8-mile Worm Flows route ascends nearly 5,700 feet to the summit of Mount St. Helens. Although challenging, this standard winter and spring route provides a non-technical climb for experienced hikers craving sweet summit views and a chance to practice basic mountaineering skills.
Start at the Marble Mountain Sno Park. Cross to the west side of Swift Creek, just above Chocolate Falls, at an elevation of 3,700 feet. Follow ridges and open slopes to the crater rim. Wooden route marking posts guide climbers from timberline to approximately 4,800 feet of elevation. About two miles in, leave the forest and pass views of Chocolate Falls, a 40-foot waterfall along Swift Creek, heading into a barren landscape of mudflows and rock, where large posts and occasional cairns mark the way. Navigate through the jumbled lava flows, then push beyond cloud level toward St. Helens' false summit.
The route crests the crater's crescent-shaped rim, revealing dramatic views of Spirit Lake and Mount Rainier. But you're not finished yet. Head west along the rim to the true summit, a mound of rocks at 8,365 feet. Savor more sweet views before turning around for the return trip back to the trailhead.
Hike safely - to reduce your exposure to avalanche potential, stay away from snow loaded slopes and gully bottoms. Stay off the cornices at the crater rim.
Be careful bringing children on this hike, due to shifting conditions there is potential for small avalanches. Be careful to stay off the cornices at the crater rim.
Sights to See
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