Mount Saint Helens/Ape Cave
May 13-15, 2011« More activities from 2011
We left the church at 5pm on Friday and arrived at Beaver Bay Campground at 8:30pm with enough time to setup camp before dark. The climbers planning on summiting Mount St. Helens woke at 5:30am on Saturday for oatmeal breakfast and a quick drive to Marble Mountain Sno-Park.
At 7am, the climbing team set off on the Worm Flows climbing route trailhead starting in the trees, opting to carry their snowshoes for speed as the trail was fairly compact snow. They came out of the trees after an hour or so to sunny views of the mountain. They took water and snack breaks every hour all the way up. The top of the mountain was in the clouds with a decent wind, so it was cold and difficult to see more than 30 feet or so. They reached the summit by 12:30pm and ate their lunches far enough back from the edge of the crater to avoid sitting on the snow cornice. No views of the lava dome this year.
Meanwhile, the rest of the group toured the Ape Cave and the Trail of Two Forests. They arrived at the Ape’s Headquarters at a little before 10am ready for spelunking. By 11am they were deep in the bowels of the Ape Cave experiencing the total darkness, cave slime, the constant 42 degree F temperature (even though there was snow on the ground above), and of course the amazing "meatball". After exiting the cave, they made their way over to the Trail of Two Forests for another fun adventure. They walked the boardwalk around the ancient tree casts and then had the opportunity to crawl through some of the casts.
Back at the mountain top, the St. Helens climbers were able to glissade at several points to quickly descend an estimated 2,000 feet. Fun! They made it back to the cars by about 3pm. In all, they travelled 12 miles, gained 5,600 feet of elevation to reach the 8,365 foot summit, and made the trip in about 8 hours.
Back at camp, the Ape Cave crew were working on dinner and had a nice fire going. Adults and climber Scouts ate dutch oven lasagna and stew, while the other Patrols had hot dogs and chicken tacos. It began raining that evening, so we hung out and talked beneath our dining flies. Most climbers took hot showers too.
Sunday morning we woke at around 7am and got breakfast and a fire going. Adults ate dutch oven egg bake and nutmeg-raisin rolls with cream cheese frosting. Scouts had pancakes, sausages, and camp cooker sandwiches. As it had rained all night and was still raining after breakfast, we decided to cut the trip short and not do Pioneering skills in the mud. We left camp at 9:30am after cleaning up the area, and made it back to the church by about 12:45pm. – MHG