8th Graders Climb St. Helens

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WE DID IT (all of us!)

This climb of Mt. St. Helens was open to graduating 8th graders.  The students and their parents came to a pre-trip meeting to discuss the trip, training and equipment—from the beginning, everyone seemed engaged. 

For training, the students joined some upper schoolers on a training hike up Dog Mountain in the Columbia Gorge—students were slowed down by conversation, but it was a good opportunity to talk about appropriate clothing and fitness for the climb.

On June 17 we met at Catlin at 10am, packed the bus, and drove up to the trailhead on St. Helens, stopping in Woodland for an adventure in Safeway (team game to find high-quality trash bags).  The weather was great and we hiked 1.5 miles to a snowy slope to do “snow school” (kicking steps, self arrest, glissading).

We woke early the morning of June 11 for our summit attempt, hiking over compacted snow before proceeding to treeline. 

The climb alternated between open snow slopes and the rocky, gravely ridgeline.  The group moved quickly through intermittent clouds and sun.  The wind began to pick up at about 6,000 feet and we ascended into a veritable whiteout.  We dropped packs about 1000 feet below the summit, and celebrated reaching the top by eating “Summit Tarts.”  Visibility at the summit was about 30 feet, which was somewhat disappointing, but everybody was in a great mood. 

We had the most incredible glissade ever!!!  We were back to our packs and down the slope in an hour!  Everybody was giddy with enjoyment.

We left camp at 7:30 pm, reached the summit around 12:30 pm and returned to camp around 3pm.  We were back on campus at 6:30.  ~SPEED RECORD~!!!