Mt St. Helens Snowmobile - Icy and Little Snow

We haven't received any new snow in the mountains the past two weeks, but it was forecast to be sunny on Saturday. My friends Kevin, Nick, and I planed to snowmobile around Mount Saint Helens and the Plains of Abraham. Mount Saint Helens (famous for its eruption on May 18, 1980) is 50 miles NE of Portland, Oregon in Washington state . Now only 8,363 feet tall, the mountain previously stood at 9,677 feet tall. The Plains of Abraham on the East side of Mount St. Helens is a popular destination for snowmobilers. It's even possible to ride all the way to the crater rim (about 11.7 miles one-way from Marble Mountain Sno-Park), although I haven't nor do I have any plans to do so.

Mt saint Helens Snowmobile Trail Elevation Profile

We arrived at Marble Mountain Sno Park a little late around 8:30 AM. It was already completely full of snowmobilers, skiers, snowshoers, and hikers. Luckily we found a place to park right in front of the gate where the snowmobile trail starts. It ended up being one of the best places to load and unload the snowmobiles since there was not very much snow around (12-18" only).

The snow was icy, but the air was warm with the sun shining brightly. There was no wind which probably played a part in the snow not softening up. We had to stop every few minuntes to keep the snowmobiles from overheating (our mountain sleds are designed for deep powder and overheat in icy hard-packed snow).

Nick and Kevin snowmobiling at Mt Saint Helens     Mt St. Helens from the Muddy River Lahar

Everybody else snowmobiling was doing the same thing as us, stopping every few minutes. We finally made it to the Muddy River Lahar winding our way through the rocks (not very much snow). There was still no sign of the snow softening up. At least the weather was nice and the views of Mt St. Helens and surrounding area were stunning. We were reminded you have to be careful riding around Mt Saint Helens due to the ever present unexpected drop offs. Kevin was leading when he all of a sudden disappeared. I managed to slow down a little before almost dropping right on top of him. Luckily I landed to the right and managed to stay upright. We had ridden over the side of a small 10' ridge. Kevin crashed, but was fine. Nick saw us both disappear and was able to slow to a safe speed to make his way down.

Unexpected jumps snowmobiling around Mt Saint Helens     View of Mt Adams from the Plains of Abaraham

We finally made it to the Plains of Abraham. There are a couple steep up and down chutes to go through to get to the Plains. They seemed steeper than the last time I was here which could be to the poor snow conditions or my failing memory. The snow was still very icy on the Plains of Abraham, so we took a break before heading back over to the Lahar. We would have loved to play in the Plains, but it wasn't worth it today.

Mt St. Helens from the Plains of Abraham     Taking a snowmobile break at the Plains of Abraham on Mt Saint Helens

We played around a bit more around the Muddy River Lahar before heading back to Marble Mountain Sno Park.

Snowmobiling up a ridge on Mt Saint Helens     Snowmobiling up Mt St. Helens looking down and over at Mt Adams

Even with the poor snow conditions we still had fun. It has been a disappointing winter this season. It feels like Spring already and it's just February. You win some and you lose some.

2017/18 Mileage

Trip: 23 miles
Season: 111 miles
Total Days: 5

2016/17 Season: 239 miles, 8 days

2015/16 Season: 408 miles, 15 days

Gear List

2014 Polaris 800 Pro RMK Snowmobile
2013 Polaris 800 Switchback Assault Snowmobile
Up North Technologies PRO SERIES Snowmobile Cargo Rack
P-700-B Low Profile Powder Keg
HMK Summit V16 Pack
GMAX GM76X Helmet
Smith Phenom Turbo Fan Goggles
Columbia Men’s Bugaboot Max Electric Boots
HMK Hustler 2 Snowmobile Pants
Columbia Titanium Hightail II Softshell Jacket
HMK Cascade Snowmobile Jacket
Columbia Powerfly Down Puff Jacket
Head Digital Sport Liner Gloves
Outdoor Research Ambit Gloves
Columbia Men's Fast Trek Fleece Hat
HighGear ATF8 Altimeter
Petzl TIKKA XP 2 Headlamp
Olympus Tough TG-1 Camera
Lifeline Aluminum Sport Utility Snow Shovel
Fiskars POWER TOOTH Softgrip 10" Folding Saw
Kel-Tec P-3AT .380 Auto
First Aid Kit
Samsung Galaxy S6 Active w/BackCountry Navigator
Suunto A-10 Compass


Post new comment

Disclaimer: You are responsible for informing yourself of the hazards of backcountry travel and taking the necessary precautions. Loomis Adventures may not be held liable.