On the last weekend of no permits a weather window opened up for an overnight hike & early morning activation of Mt St Helens. The trail was covered with snow to the parking lot. I hit the trail at 1:20am and made good time to chocolate falls on skis. Somewhere heading up the ridge I had to make the switch to bootpacking the skis. Heavier backpack, but faster travel overall.
I made the seismic station just before 4am and took a long break there to eat breakfast. This is also a great spot to put crampons on because it is the last truely flat spot on the hike. Even with soft snow, there’s no telling what snow/ice conditions you may encounter on the upper mountain.
With crampons on I continued up and up forever. I was making good time and reached the final pitches just before dawn. Clouds were blowing above me and I made the decision to forgo checking out the views from the crater rim and instead head straight for the true summit and Activation Zone. This route has a steeper traverse, but no up and down and up of the rim traverse.
In the final 100 feet to the summit the wind really picked up. I put on all my layers and got my radio out. My first QSO of the day was with K7ATN in North Portland. A good 2m pileup commenced.
For HF I didn’t want to try to get a mast in the air. Too much wind. I instead laid my random wire out on the snow, something I’ve always wanted to try. At this point I lost cell service and couldn’t spot, so I just hoped that RBN would pick me up and spot me. I got 1 QSO on CW 40m with KA7MDM in Vancouver, WA. With no other takers (I think there was a delay in RBN putting the spot on SOTA) I switched over to 20m. At this point my cell service came back and I was able to get a spot up.
20 meters was good to me and I was able to get stations on the east coast, France, as well as many “locals” in the Seattle area. I worked 13 QSOs in 11 minutes, which I think is a cw record for me. With the pileup ended and cold fingers, I packed up.
I am very glad I left my HT on because I took a couple steps and KJ7RTO, activating Mt Hood (W7O/CN-001) came on the air. We worked each other Volcano to Volcano and got mutual SOTA Completes for our mountains!
Before skiing, I traversed back over to the main south side. The skiing in the upper mountain was good, but hoooboy I am out of downhill shape. The ski descent took a long time just because I had to stop for many breaks. Lower on the mountain the snow was soft and slushy, typical conditions for spring. It took my legs a minute to remember how to ski in that stuff.
The real advantage of skis was the deproach. Chocolate Falls to the TH took me 17 minutes! In total it was 11.32mi with 5787 elevation gain, and a car to car time of 9 hours 10 minutes.
73 de Tim N7KOM