Great news for hikers looking to stand atop one of America’s most famous volcanoes! Starting on Wednesday, February 1st 2017 at 9am PST, this year’s climbing permits will be available for purchase to summit the stunning peak of Mt. St. Helens. Permits are $22.00 and are limited to just 500 a day from April 1st to May 14th. From May 15th to October 31st, only 100 permits are issued a day.
A permit to climb Mt. St. Helens is needed year round, but a fee is only required if you summit this majestic mountain between April 1st to November 1st. From November through March, free self-registration can be done at either Climbers Bivouac or Marble Mountain Sno-Park’s climber registers. Starting at the time and date listed above, you can get your permit to climb Mount Saint Helens from this link.
On May 18th, 1980, the mountain, which once stood 9,677 feet above sea level, experienced a violent eruption. The eruption took 1,310 feet off the top and triggered the largest recorded landslide, shooting the entire side of the mountain at supersonic speeds to the north. The blast flattened everything standing for six miles. 57 people died that day, with countless others injured as their homes were destroyed by lahars down every river and stream. The landscape forever changed that day, all from a quiet little mountain less than 40 miles from the Columbia River.
If you haven’t summited Mount Saint Helens, it is a quintessential adventure in the Pacific Northwest. I first summited the mountain in 1989, when I was just eight years old. I returned to the top of the volcano 25 years later and wrote this article about the experience. The hike can be long and difficult for those not used to hiking long distances uphill, but the experience should be added to your bucket list. After the long hike, climbing up through the woods, around huge boulders and through ash, the views from the summit reward you for your effort, letting you enjoy the breathtaking panorama of the entire Pacific Northwest. With views of Hood, Adams, Rainier and even the Olympic in the distance, there are few places in the world that have this caliber of a vista.
The atmosphere at the summit is a beautiful combination of Cascadian optimism and climbers euphoria, the perfect blending of two of America’s most liberal states. The vibe on the mountain is like Pacific Northwest church, worshipping wilderness while getting intoxicated by the power of nature. The feeling on the hike was like we got got high off of the volcanoes fumes, giggling off of heat stroke, exhaustion and excitement standing on the rim of a growing mountain. This mountain needs to be climbed this year, so get your permit and get stoked to summit this active, steaming volcano.
Keep in mind that a National Forest Recreation Pass is required to park at Climber’s Bivouac. This is not provided with your climbing permits, so make sure you plan ahead. Climbers are required to display a valid National Forest Recreation Day Pass ($5/day) or National Forest Recreation Annual Pass ($30) on each car parked at Climber’s Bivouac. Information on how to obtain all the passes you need for recreation activities on lands in Washington State can be found here.
For all permit, climbing, or other related questions, please call the Mount St. Helens Institute at (360) 449-7883.