Mt. Saint Helens Skills and Climb


Climbing Mount St. Helens is a very unique opportunity considering its historical 1980 eruption.  The flanks of this Southern Cascade Volcano offer fantastic beginner level ascents while climbing past volcanic debris and lava tube.  Mount Saint Helens is considered an ideal peak for those who would like a solid introduction to snow climbing and general mountaineering skills while enjoying stunning views of the surrounding country.

This introductory course will provide participants with a variety of camping, mountaineering, and snow climbing skills. Those who complete the course should be able to climb similar snow routes in the Cascades, the Sierra, the Rockies, and the Wind River Ranges.

Mt. Saint Helens Skills and Climb


Climbing Skills:

  • Selection & use of personal equipment
  • Selection & use of ropes, knots, & harnesses
  • Selection & use of rock, snow, & ice anchors for belays & intermediate protection
  • Belaying techniques on snow
  • Principles of off trail travel & route finding
  • Use of an ice axe in a variety of positions
  • The concept & application of the self-belay
  • Leave No Trace travel, camping, & climbing
  • An introduction to alpine camping techniques
  • An introduction to alpine ecology
  • Map and compass: reading, intersection, & triangulation
  • Evaluation & prediction of mountain weather patterns
  • Introduction to alpine cooking

Mt. Saint Helens Skills and Climb


On day one, we will meet at a hotel in Seattle early in the morning. After a thorough gear check we will make the drive down to the trailhead at Mt. St. Helens. From the parking lot we will make the approach hike up to our camp.

Once we have established camp, we will cook a delicious group dinner. Breakfasts and dinners on the mountain will be provided by AAI, but will be cooked together by the group.

On the second day of the program we will review snow skills, with a focus on the use of the ice axe and crampons. And though the route is not glaciated, we will also introduce basic roped snow climbing techniques.

On day three we will ascend Mount Saint Helens via the Monitor Ridge. The 8,365 foot summit is actually a corniced ridge that hangs high above an active caldera and lava dome. After we return to the car, we will make our way back to the hotel in Seattle.

Mt. Saint Helens Skills and Climb


Max. ratio - 5:1 (climber:guide)

Capacity - 10



  • Good physical fitness
  • Ability to carry a 45 - 55 lb backpack for multiple hours
  • Stamina to hike for over 8 hours (including breaks, and with lesser pack weight)
  • Ability to cook for yourself on a backpacking stove
  • Overnight backpacking experience


Permitting notes - Due to its status as a National Monument, there are a limited number of permits available to climb Mt. Saint Helens. Registrations for climbs must be received more than a month before you wish to climb in order to give us enough time to secure the permit. That being said, there is still a chance that there may not be availability on your desired dates. Weekends typically fill up faster than weekdays, so please keep this in mind when planning your trip.

Inclusions - Group technical climbing equipment (personal climbing equipment is available for rent at a nominal charge), all permits and camping fees, and the guide fee.

Exclusions - Not included in the course cost is all personal clothing and climbing gear (including crampons, ice axe, harness, helmet, tent, etc), transportation to the climbing areas from AAI headquarters, gratuities to guide, meals or snacks, or travel insurance.

*We run this program on a private basis, please call for more details.

Mt. Saint Helens Skills and Climb

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