Last Snowmobile Ride of 2012/13 Season on Mt Saint Helens

My dad, Steve, drove up from Reno, NV to visit for the weekend. I had been trying to get him to come up for a snowmobile trip for the past few weeks, but weather and timing didn't line up until this weekend. Unfortunately the warmer than usual temperatures and less-than-average snow pack limited our snowmobiling options. I didn't want to drive all the way to Central Oregon, so we decided to try out Mt Saint Helens. From other reports it sounded like there was still enough snow to snowmobile out of Marble Mountain Sno-Park on the South side of Mount Saint Helens. Mount Saint Helens (50 miles NE of Portland, Oregon) is an active stratovolcano most famous for its eruption which blew the top part of the mountain off on May 18, 1980. Now only 8,363 feet tall, it previously stood at 9,677 feet.

The weather was supposed to be mostly sunny, so we looked forward to a decent day of riding. This was the first time my dad has been riding in about 20 years. When we arrived at Marble Mountain Sno-Park Saturday morning, there were only a few other snowmobilers, but plenty of climbers. We easily found a parking spot and were soon snowmobiling down the trail on Forest road 83. There was about 1-2 feet of snow on average with some short bare spots. The snow is melting fast and very different from my last trip here a few weeks ago. It's sad to see it go.

Mt Saint Helens, Washington from Forest Road 83     Snowmobiling with my Dad with Mt St Helens in the Background

Luckily the weather cooperated with partly sunny skis and warm temperatures depending on how high up the mountain we were. My dad quickly remembered how to ride and we had a fun time snowmobiling through the trees dodging rocks and stumps as we made our way up the Muddy River Lahar.

Getting Higher on Mt Saint Helens     Looking Towards Mt Adams from Near the Head of the Muddy River

We didn't end up making it over to the Plains of Abraham due to the low snow conditions, but probably could have if we really tried. We rode as high as 4,200 feet where the snow was covered in ash from a vent in the canyon below us. It was pretty windy at that spot, so we quickly headed back down to the shelter of the trees.

At About 4,200' Elevation on Mt Saint Helens     Taking a Snowmobile Break on Mt St Helens

After riding for a few hours we decided to call it a day and snowmobile back to Marble Mountain sno-park. We ended up relaxing in the sun talking with another group of snowmobilers for an hour or so before heading home. It was great to be able to take my dad snowmobiling on Mt St Helens even if the snow was not ideal. Hopefully I'll be able to get him up next winter when there is more snow.

Gear List

'02 Polaris 500 RMK Snowmobiles
HMK Summit V16 Pack
GMAX GM76X Helmet
Smith Phenom Turbo Fan Goggles
Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Max Electric Boots
Columbia Men's Echochrome Ski Pants
Columbia Titanium Hightail II Softshell Jacket
Columbia Sportswear Men's Peak 2 Peak Jacket
Triple Star Packable Down Hooded Jacket
Head Digital Sport Liner Gloves
Outdoor Research Ambit Gloves
Columbia Men's Fast Trek Fleece Hat
Petzl TIKKA XP 2 Headlamp
Olympus Tough TG-1 Camera
Sony Action Cam HDR-AS15
Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Snow Shovel
First Aid Kit
iPhone w/NeoTreksGPS
Suunto A-10 Compass


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