Winter 15/16 has left the Northwest mountains with a good healthy snowpack this spring and, for those keen to continue their ski season, Cascade volcano ski conditions are at their prime. We’ve hit that magic point where access roads are clear and the snowpack is still robust. Warming days and cold nights deliver the best volcano ski conditions, so keep an eye on the weather and plan your next Cascade volcano ski.
Here’s the latest climbing and ski descent details on Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and Mt. Saint Helens:
Mt. Hood – Climbing routes on all aspects are in fine form with reliable snow for skinning from about 6,000 feet. Unfortunately, the north side Cloud Cap Road (FR 3512) is still gated at the bottom by the Tilly Jane trailhead (trail 600A). I would think it should open soon (USFS says “mid-June”) as remaining snow on the road is minimal. In the meantime, be patient and use the Tilly Jane Trail or bring your bike and pedal the road to access classics like Cooper Spur, Snow Dome, Langille Bowls and the Eliot Glacier. South side access is as easy as usual with Timberline offering lift access to 8,600 feet starting at 8am. It’s rare that the summit softens for ski descents much before noon – under normal spring weather conditions – so time your ascent accordingly. A recent Mazama Face (south side Old Chute) descent saw perfect conditions at noon sharp. Check out our Mt Hood Climbing Route Poster
Mt. Adams – The Cold Springs access road is open all the way to the Climber’s Trailhead on the south side – FR 8040. Reliable snow coverage begins at about 6,000 ft. Our pal Erme Catino just skied the Southwest Chutes and reports primo conditions on May 31, offering “Prime time corn harvest was around 12:45-1pm that day with great coverage down the chutes, and on the traverse back to the trailhead and snow line.”
Remember, between May 1st and September 30th a Cascade Volcano Pass IS REQUIRED for EACH individual in your group when climbing Mount Adams ($15). Registration and passes are available at the Mt. Adams Ranger Station, 2455 Hwy 141, Trout Lake, WA.
Mt. St. Helens – Climber’s bivy road access is open as is the Marble Mount/Worm Flows access, however reliable snow begins closer to 6,000 ft, so be prepared for some walking. Climbing St. Helens requires a permit check availability here.