ViewVoting details

Mount St. Helens, WA | March 2014

K7ATN's picture
Cellular Provider: 

A very long day to get ten points - the usual for the Northwest. Here in Oregon and Washington, we can't do several drive up ten pointers in one day - it might take 12 hours of hiking just to get to one ten-point summit and back down again.

We left Portland at 2:30am to drive to the trailhead at Marble Mountain Sno-Park off Road 83 a bit past Cougar, WA. Unusually great weather was predicted for this March day. For the majority of the climbing season, permits are sold advance. See

We arrived at the trailhead a bit after 4am and assembled our packs by headlight. We opted not to take skis as the trail started without snow - when climbing in May 2012 we had continuous snow from the summit to the parking lot. It has been a dry year across the west.

Marble Mountain is the winter approach - Climber's Bivy is higher and a shorter climb but that road is closed in the winter. From Marble Mountain Sno-Park the trail winds through the woods to timberline for a bit over two miles. It crosses a creek at Chocolate Falls and from here on it was nearly continuous snow for the remaining three miles to the summit. 

The temperature was around freezing and much of the snowpack on the climb was firm to the point of solid - even with crampons we made only the smallest marks and sometimes kicking steps was really just digging in front points.

About a quarter mile from where most folks think they "summit" we turned to climber's left and crossed a ridge to approach the true summit for the activation. Here the icy patches were extensive and the going was slow - that last half mile took almost an hour to cover.

Once in the AZ we carved out a platform to sit and set up. About 1859z my 2m HT came to life with a call from Dave-N7LKL. He seemed a bit anxious to talk with me, but my proposed QRV time was 1900z and I needed just another minute to set up. That we made our activation time that close to proposed QRV after 7.5 hours of climbing was pretty much a miracle.

On 2m FM I worked a number of folks from the Pacific Northwest VHF Society that were looking out for me, and then moved to 20m CW for 16 chasers from across the country. When switching the KD1JV MTR from 20m to 40m no RF output was observed - the feedline had apparently shorted. We assembled our gear and headed down.

We choose a slightly different route for the down climb so that crossing the icy patches would be a bit easier. However, the hard layer underneath was all over the mountain and we both slipped and fell several times later on when the snowpack was particularly thin over the ice. We recovered our stashed snowshoes and used them to make better time on the uneven surface. We were back to the car a bit after 5pm - about 13 hours total round trip for the 5.5 miles and 5800 feet. See for more climb information and the activation report for the climb two years earlier here: 

We did not have photos as the camera failed. Thanks to the kindness of Remi and Andréanne from Quebec we have some summit photos below - thanks to fellow climbers!

Photo credit: Remi and Andréanne from Quebec
Photo credit: Remi and Andréanne from Quebec
SOTA Flag thanks for Grover-KG7O!