Monday, March 25, 2013

Little Saint Helens 4582' 3.25.13

Little Saint Helens is located just South of I-90 West of the Hansen Creek drainage. I am unclear how the summit name was derived.


When I awoke I was pleased to see the weather sunny and windless. I managed an earlier than expected start so I wanted to pack some miles in to this day to try to make the most of my good fortune with the weather. However life had other plans for me and I had multiple issues making my arrival time at my jump off point well past 11 am. I had hoped to stay in shorts on this day but the cool weather on the lower slopes nixed that idea. I drove some ways on the very snow rutted Tinkham Road. I pushed some ways before deciding to park at a wide spot. I booted the road meeting the Hansen Creek Road. The road was travelled with some high clearance trucks, snowmobiles, skiers and some other people on foot. I did me best to stay out of the skier's skin tracks. At around 3000' the truck traffic ended making for more variable footing. The road arches into the next drainage providing my first view of the summit. I cut some of the switchbacks trying to shorten some distance.

Once reaching a junction I switched to snowshoes and headed for a short ways on a spur that hadn't had any traffic. After a 1/4 mile I left the road fighting my way through some smaller trees. As I climbed the path became more and more open. Thankfully the snow had a good base and only the top 6 inches was like a slurpee. I picked a mostly straight line for the 700' of climb needed to gain the summit ridge. Once cresting the ridge I was able to see that the area had 3 distinct points with the middle being the summit. I made my way along the mostly flat ridge to access the short climb to the true summit. It appeared that the summit was totally treed but I was thankful that there was wonderful views to the North.

After soaking in some sun along with the views regretfully I had to head back. I followed my route about halfway along the ridge before dropping to the East. I did a descending traverse to reach my ascent route. The upper slopes where steep enough that I switched back my way down until I reached the lower slopes that where much lower angled. Back the road I did my best to keep a good pace. A very nice day to be out.

Approx 12 miles 4:45 car to car 3000' of climb

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