Mount St.Helens opened her doors for a perfect, spring volcano riding day in mid April. Nikki and I met a White Salmon buddy, Andy and his friend Ryan, for a sled accessed tour up the east facing Ape Glacier. Fresh snow had fallen late in the work week, just thick enough layer to coat the parking lot and lay a healthy 4-6inch blanket up higher on the volcano. With the access road still deeply packed with the early season low elevation snows, we quickly made our approach to the bottom of the Ape Glacier.
Two days beforehand, I was texting with Andy about taking advantage of the upcoming weather window, only to find out he was already planning the same mission up the same glacier on Mount St.Helens. Fortuitous? Yeah, I’d say so. Nikki and I gained two strong teammates who added more than we could ask for, to our little touring party of two.
We parked machine’s at 4,600 feet below the line and by 12:30pm we had topped out at around 8,200 feet elevation only three hours later. Zero wind, temps in the mid 30’s, sunshine, all of which making the 3 hour tour down right enjoyable. We stared out from the summit of Helens sounded by stillness. All of us a little confused at why the snow still felt dry and our change-over to downhill mode was so pleasant without any breeze. Looking in the crater the lines coming down he summit into the crater valley looked amazing. Drained of energy from the tour, you see lines in the distance like that and your mindset changes. You become hungry again, ready to ride and ready to walk back up for more.
Our turns proved fruitful. Any snow facing east was deeper and lighter than expected. We stopped on a bench after the first 1,000 feet of downhill and transitioned back over to climb mode for another short lap. After one more climb, Nikki and I parked on a bench before the summit and let Andy and Ryan pass by for a full lap. We ripped down, three stops and one fall along the way (a snow shark grabbed my board). Finishing some great turns doesn’t get any better until…You are drinking a beer in full sunlight, watching your buddies drop in for a 3,500 foot run.
Thank you Andy and Ryan for sharing your quality photos, quite the treat.