April 28, 2023
April 28, 2023
Zone or Region:
Mt St Helens Worm Flows Climbing Route
Did you observe any avalanches? Yes
Size 2: Could bury, injure, or kill a person
Several avalanches were seen today. There was a very big cornice failure along the east side of the route that dropped tons of snow into the canyon below. This is a route used by skiers but none were on that section when it happened. There was also a loose wet D1 off the east side of Monitor Peak at 6000'. Climbers that traversed the rim from Monitor Ridge west to the true summit reported seeing avalanches on the steeper south aspect along that route, but they were not able to describe the type or size. There is a crack forming in one area along the rim cornice that runs parallel to the rim edge and probably marks the inner edge of the rim proper. This crack is an annual event and isn't usually associated with cornice collapse, however, the cornice extends 6-10' over air today and that part of the cornice may be fragile in this heat. Surprisingly, things were otherwise peaceful today without widespread loose wet or wet slab avalanches.
Clear skies, low winds below 8,000', and temps ell above freezing at all altitudes. The high on the rim was in the mid 40s. It was 52 F at Marble Mtn at 5 AM and 60 F at 4,000 feet at 6 AM. In the morning, snow was wet and granular up to 6,000' and slightly firmer above. At mid morning at 8200' there was 8" of firm granular snow, an ice layer, and fine dry winter snow below. By midafternoon , the snow had softened and climbers in boots were sinking ankle to knee deep. At lower altitudes, the snow was wet and soft and boot travelers were often knee deep.
I stayed on the ridges and avoided potential terrain traps and steep open areas that were baking in the sun. Almost all climbers today had seen the NWAC Special Bulletin.