Southern Cascades Volcanoes Skills and Climb


Southern Cascades Volcanoes Tour

Only 31 miles apart, Mount Adams and Mount Saint Helens have a lot in common. Both mountains are still considered active volcanoes. This might seem odd due to the fact that Mount Saint Helens regularly has volcanic "burps" while Mount Adams hasn't seen an eruption for nearly 1400 years. Both mountains see far fewer ascents than their popular neighbors, Mount Rainier and Mount Hood. And both mountains offer scenic climbs on moderate terrain. The similarities in style and difficulty make this a perfect pair for the aspiring alpinist to tackle together.

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.

An extremely interesting and scenic aspect of this trip is the opportunity to climb two stratovolcanos in a row. One of them still reflects what we think of when we imagine a classic conical volcano, while the other demonstrates both the beauty and the violence of the aftermath of a catastrophic eruption. The fact that one of these volcanoes redefined itself and everything around it while the other sits silently, an image of what the first mountain looked like years ago, provides a stark and awesome scenic juxtaposition for the climber to ponder.

Our tour of the Southern Cascades Volcanoes is the perfect hybrid of a trip. On the one hand, we will attempt to attain two high summits and on the other, we will engage in a high level of instruction. 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.

Southern Cascades Volcanoes Skills and Climb


Technical 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


General Wilderness Skills:

  • An introduction to alpine ecology
  • Map and compass: reading, intersection, & triangulation
  • Evaluation & prediction of mountain weather patterns
  • Introduction to avalanche hazard evaluation
  • Introduction to first aid & the evacuation of injured climbers
  • Introduction to alpine cooking

Southern Cascades Volcanoes 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 Mount Adams. From the parking lot we will make the approach hike up to our camp at 9,400 feet.

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 climb the South Spur of Mount Adams to reach the 12, 276 foot summit.

On day four, we will review map and compass skills, wilderness orienteering and alpine route-finding before descending the trailhead. Once back at the van, we will drive to the trailhead for Mount Saint Helens (3,740').

On day five 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.

Southern Cascades Volcanoes Skills and Climb


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


Private Climbs

In addition to the dates we publish for this climb, we can also easily set up additional dates for groups and/or individuals as they are requested. We have almost unlimited availability throughout the summer but at certain times our schedule does book up. To make sure a particular date range is available please call (800-424-2249) or email our office.


Southern Cascades Volcanoes Skills and Climb

Cost and Details

Max. ratio - 5:1 (climber:guide)

Capacity - 10

Prerequisites - Good physical fitness

Inclusions - Included in the course cost is group food (breakfasts and dinners while on the mountain) group technical climbing equipment (personal climbing equipment is available for rent at a nominal charge), transportation to the climbing areas from AAI headquarters, 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), gratuities to guide, restaurant meals while on the course, snacks, lunches, or travel insurance.  There is an extra mileage fee for your guide meeting you in southern WA.


  • 1 climber to 1 guide: $675 per day
  • 2 climbers to 1 guide: $485 per person per day
  • 3 climbers to 1 guide: $360 per person per day
  • 4 climbers to 1 guide: $325 per person per day
  • 5 climbers to 1 guide: $285 per person per day

Southern Cascades Volcanoes Skills and Climb

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