Friday, September 3, 2010

My Final MSH Climb

 We did it again, another Mt. St. Helens climb!  For me it was the usual tough exhausting ascent.   About 5 miles one-way,  it starts with a two mile upward hike through an enchanting forest.  After a short walk through an ash plain covered with stunted evergreens, the next couple of miles is an energy-sapping climb through a field of enormous boulders.  Last section is a long steep haul up the ash cone to the summit.   From Climber's Bivouac where we stayed the night before the climb, the ascent is something like 4500 feet.

The weather yesterday was clear and sunny, but not warm, and oh joy, the wind was whipping around us, sapping my will to go on.   Transitioning from the boulders to the cone I was blown to my knees several times but once I employed my trekking poles, no more falls.  But to make it up the cone I had to count 100 steps, then rest, 100 steps, rest.  Thanks to rain the day before the cone was easier to navigate than on previous climbs.

At the top we had a little birthday party for my friend Carolyn, complete w/ a candle in a muffin.  We couldn't keep the candle lit due to the gusts.  In fact, a milestone birthday was the reason for us climbing MSH again.  We both turned 55 in the past year, and we just wanted to see if we could still make the ascent--sort of a measuring stick of our energy and ability.  And we're still with it!

But yesterday's climb was the last one for me.   If I could make the ascent, then be plucked off the rim by a helicopter, that would be dandy.  The descent through the boulders is absolutely torturous and demoralizing.  Don't want to do that again.

So here is the summation of my experience on MSH
1995--climbed halfway with a group of Westview High students; turned back due to horrid weather
1998--camped overnight at Climber's Bivouac, then made the ascent w/ a group of 12 (Shirley, Daurie, Marsha, Larry, Katy, Tim, Craig, Blair, Bridget, Carolyn, Bob, me), 5.5. hours up
2006--camped overnight at CB, ascended with 12: Craig, Dave, Paul, Steven, Greg, Keegan, Katy, Tim, Carolyn, Bob, Robert, me.  5 hours up
2010--camped at CB, ascended w/ ??: Katy, Tim, Bridget, Jeremy, Emily, Craig, Carolyn, Bob, Matt, Betsy & Steve, Kevin, me; and some strangers who bought our extra permits; 5 1/4 hours up

Craig's post today with lots of photographs:
http://acraigwalker.blogspot.com/2010/09/mt-st-helens-climb.html
My previous post on MSH:

http://topomountain.blogspot.com/2009_11_17_archive.html
Bridget's post:
http://miriampalmer.blogspot.com/2010/09/mt-st-helens.html

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