The skis went blue over the Northwest during the first week of April. Desperately wanting to take advantage of the dry and unseasonably warm weather for some snow camping, I talked Kelso and Nikki into making plans to ride Mount St.Helens for the weekend.
Nikki and I set out solo on Saturday with summit fever. Par for the course, packing the van up for the weekend with camping gear meant a late start and late arrival to our route up the volcano. We took the sled a ways to the east and up onto a nice starting point for some splitboarding, far from the normal route where 100plus other hiker were ascending. Our route was empty but we paid the price for it’s quietness. I underestimated the pitch of the benchy ridge up the Ape Glacier. We were forced to make extra switchbacks while touring and even bootpack at one 38 degree pitch.
We also made our summit attempt a bit harder by mistakingly leaving our food bag in Portland. That move zapped energy levels and left us a good 800 vertical feet short of the summit. Looking back on our decision to bag the summit, we both regret not taking a longer break and giving it was last push. Our focus was less on the summit though and more about saving energy for turns down the 2500ft vertical run. The Ape Glacier provided an awesome run on some surprisingly steep terrain. We tossed perfectly crystalized corn snow in the 50 degree weather feeling pretty badass out there all by ourselves.
Without food our evening of snow camping turned into a bar visit to the nearest town, followed by van camping at the trailhead. Kelso, Zach, Josh and Chip arrived the next morning ready for a jump building day. We were excited to get Chip out on his new sled for the first. We doubled out on three sleds with six people through the last of the melting snow and patches of pavement on the road to the higher elevation.
In little over an hour our many hands shaped a smooth hip with a perfect run in, all accessed via a short sled lap. Funny enough, the hip was built in same location Kelso and I sessioned three years prior. Low winds, plenty of light and sled fuel made for a super fun session. The hip and it’s sticky landing had little room for error so few tricks got ridden away from. The thick, slushy landing was forgiving though and made for some really funny slams.
I didn’t take much video footage until the end of the session when I was finally satisfied having ridden away from a clean front three. I missed catching Kelso and Zach take it big with some nice front 3’s, 5’s and 720 attempts. At the end of the day, Nikki took some charging laps, trying to hold composure during the high speed in-run. Chip finished the day out with some rub-on wax to keep his speed turnt up. He blasted a few nice ally-oops right as we packed up.
Josh spent a good portion of his day scoping out photo opportunities with the fancy camera he brought out. He looked to be in his element tucked behind rollers and banks of the volcano. Thanks for the shots Josh!