Sunday, July 20, 2014

Hannah Lyons - Week Three

This week I was able to take a few days off to climb Mt. St. Helens. 
In 1980 Mt. St. Helens erupted, blasting 3,000 ft off it's elevation and collapsing the north side of the mountain. 34 years later the volcano is still active and evidence of the blast is very much present. The trees are growing back and the streams are still finding new paths. 
We camped at the climbers bivouac at 3,700ft, on the southern side of the mountain and started our climb at dawn. The first two miles are through a dense coniferous forest with an elevation gain of 1,000 ft. Clearing the trees it opens up and the trail fades and the boulder fields start. We stopped a few times to snack on sardines and drank plenty of water. The last 100 feet is pumice and dust and with every step you sink back half a step. Although not a technical climb it is very strenuous. After five hours we reached the summit, the rim of the caldera. It was a clear beautiful day and from the top there were magnificent views all around. Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson were all visible and majestic still covered in snow.

Panoramic view from the top. Mt. Rainier center, Mt. Adams right.

After enjoying the view and taking a rest it was time to descend. We were able to glissade (slide) most of the way down on the snow fields. We zoomed by the climbers that were still ascending and it only took two hours to get down. It was so fun!

Sliding down!

After ten miles, seven hours, 4,500 feet of elevation gained (then lost), I was exhausted and feeling so proud that I climbed my first mountain. It was great to come back to the cool and breezy coast for more video monitoring and invertebrate identification.

Me at 8,365 ft with Mt. Rainier in the background. 

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