Mt. St. Helens Conditioning

Mount St. Helens is an active volcano located in Washington State, in the Pacific Northwest region of the US. It is 96 miles (154 km) south of Seattle and 50 miles (80 km) northeast of Portland.


Mount St. Helens is most popular for the eruption on May 18, 1980, at 8:32 a.m., the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. Fifty-seven people were killed. A massive debris avalanche triggered by an earthquake measuring 5.1, caused an eruption, reducing the elevation of the mountain's summit from 9,677 ft (2,950 m) to 8,365 ft (2,550 m) and replacing it with a 1 mile (1.6 km) wide horseshoe-shaped crater.


Mount St. Helens is a popular climb for both beginning and experienced mountaineers and one of our favorites for introducing first time climbers to mountaineering. Although people are able to climb Mount St. Helens year-round, late spring through early fall is the most popular season, with the Mothers Day event, where climbers of both sexes are encouraged to wear dresses being very popular.

Most climbers use the Monitor Ridge Route from Climbers Bivouac to summit. This route gains 4,500 feet in five miles to the crater rim at 8,365 feet elevation. Although strenuous, this non-technical climb is suitable for people in good physical condition who are comfortable scrambling on steep, rugged terrain. Most climbers complete the round trip in seven to twelve hours. While climbing to the crater rim is permitted, entry into the crater is strictly prohibited.

The major safety concern with climbing Mt. St. Helens are the cornices at the crater rim. Several climbers have punched through over the years by getting too close to the edge and fallen into the crater.

To train for Mt St. Helens (1 day summit trip):

  • Prepare by hiking 5 miles per week with 2000-4000 feet of elevation gain.  
  • A good gauge is being able to carry a 15 lb pack on a 2000 ft elevation hike in about 3 hours.
  • Sustained aerobic workout on stair-master or bike for 60 minutes. 
  • Run 7 miles per week.  
  • Focus on building leg strength.

To train for Mt. St. Helens the 6 week mountaineering plan is sufficient.

Free Training plans:
Hiking and Backpacking
6 week beginner plan


General Mountaineering:
Intermediate Plan 12 weeks

Mt. Rainier 12 week plan:

Mount Rainier Training Plan

New! 

8 Month Mountaineering Training & Fitness Plan

Meal Plans:
Backpacking and Climbing Meal Plans

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