Mountain Climb

The 2024 Mountain Climb program is currently underway!

This year, our climbers will return to the iconic Mount St. Helens peak! The TSNW mountain climb program is currently limited to 18 people (plus guides), and they are already deep into their training program for the year. 

Are you interested in participating next year?

You should be physically fit (able to walk 4 miles by the start of the season in April), but you do not need any climbing or backpacking experience. We provide the training and support to help you be successful.

If you are interested in more information about climb participation, please review the additional information below.

Summer 2024 Climb

Mount St. Helens Summit (Monitor Ridge)

  • August 8, 2024
  • Length: 10.0 miles
  • Roundtrip Elevation Gain: 4,500 ft.
  • Highest Point: 8,365 ft. 

*For detailed information about the climb (including training schedules and hike locations), view the Information Packet above. Training hikes will be posted on the Program Calendar


Click on the category to read more details.

Is any hiking experience required before training begins?

Not necessarily, but you must already be regularly active. While we start on “easier” hikes and build up, these hikes start at 4.5 miles and 1400 ft elevation gain. We welcome members who are new to hiking with TSNW. We have many different skill levels; when appropriate, we divide into groups so everyone is going comfortably. However, if you cannot sustain an hour of moderate exercise at a time or walk at least 4 miles, you may find a better fit in our other outdoor programs, including walking and more moderate hiking groups.

How often are the training hikes? What days of the week? Are they required?

Training hikes are once per week, typically alternating Saturdays and Sundays, starting in May and culminating in August with Mount St. Helens. Because we are a team and teamwork is important for success, participants must commit to 2 training hikes per month with the climbing team (or 8 total). You must also do at least two of the harder, late-season hikes: Mt. Si, Bandera, Granite, and Mailbox Peak. If you are not prepared, you will not be able to accomplish your goal. The training we have outlined will prepare you physically and mentally. If you would like additional hiking experience, you are welcome to join the TSNW midweek hike group on Wednesdays or Thursdays.

Can I train independently?

Beyond at least 2 training hikes a month with the TSNW team, you are welcome to do what works best for you. Hiking together not only builds camaraderie within the group, but will also give you helpful tips and a sense of the pace and skill levels as the climb/hike dates approach. If you are unable to commit to 2 training hikes a month with TSNW, we invite you to look at other TSNW outdoor programs.

What if I start but decide to drop out? Is there a deadline for dropping out?

With the exception of illness or injury, please do not drop out later than July 1st. Otherwise, we will lose the money we spent on your guide and climbing permit and will not have time to offer it to someone else, in which case you will need to cover the cost before that date, which is alright and happens for all sorts of reasons. You will still have benefited from the exercise and friendships built during training and have a sense of whether you want to try again another year. In fairness to those on the waitlist, please let us know if you need to withdraw as soon as possible.

How difficult is it to climb Mt. St. Helens? Will there be snow?

There will not be snow on our climb in August (although some would prefer it!). The terrain can be divided into three parts: (1) a lovely forested area that is not difficult, (2) a field of huge volcanic boulders that requires gardening gloves and slower footing, and (3) a dune of ash that is not technical but requires endurance. See the trail description on page 4 of the Mountain Climb info. packet for further details.

What if I can't complete the climb and must turn back?

We never hike alone. If something occurs and you need to go back, one person would go back with you.

What hiking supplies will I need? Will I have to carry a heavy backpack?

Training and the MSH climb are day hikes and do not require camping or overnight backpacking supplies. However, you will need general supplies and want to get used to carrying a mid-weight backpack (~25lb) during your training. You will need good hiking boots, gardening gloves, clothes that are comfortable and protect you from the weather (rain/sun), a day-pack to hold lunch and snacks, first aid and essential items for the day, a supply of water, and extra clothing layers. Most of our members also use hiking poles. You may be able to borrow items you don’t have from other members or friends, and TSNW also has a small library of equipment to loan out. One of the benefits of the training hikes is that you can see what other people are using and get their tips on gear and clothing. You don’t need everything on day one. Good hiking boots are the most important item to get early so you can break them in and ensure they work for you. (For more information, please refer to the comprehensive supplies list that TSNW will provide via email.)

How will I know details about each practice climb?

Training hikes will be posted on the Program Calendar ( and will ONLY be visible to the climb team. You will receive an email with additional specifics approximately five days before each climb. We will also host a private Facebook group for anyone with a Facebook account. You will need to RSVP via the Program Calendar for all practice climbs.

Why are the training hikes so early in the morning?

Ascending a mountain generally requires the ability to get on the trail early. Distance and weather may demand an early start for safety, often before dawn. We understand that not everyone is an early riser. If you are one of those people, we apologize, but our training hikes start early, sometimes by 7 am. With travel, this makes for some early mornings. But we promise– it’s incredibly worth the commitment!

Why are the training hikes all in the Seattle/North Bend area?

At this time, the training hikes are offered in this area to accommodate the large number of volunteers needed to make this program possible. As noted, you are welcome to train elsewhere if you also hike with us at least twice a month.

How many people will climb together? Who is on the climbing team?

We will have up to 18 climbers– TSNW members who are committed to both training and fundraising for the climb. The team also includes the program leader (a TSNW member and experienced hiker who volunteered to organize, manage, and lead the training program), and many volunteer training hike leaders from TSNW and the local hiking community. MSH is a designated wilderness area with rule of 12-people per group maximum, so we will break into two groups of no more than 9 participants and 2-3 guides in each group on summit day. Some training hikes will also be in designated wilderness areas where we will hike in groups of 12 or less; we have enough volunteer leaders to help each group.

Will we have guides leading us?

Yes. Each group will include an experienced volunteer leader (many have done past TSNW climbs), as well as one to two professional guides from the Mount St. Helens Institute (paid).

Will we need to stay overnight anywhere?

Though not required, we highly recommend spending the night before the hike close to the trailhead. Obviously, some car travel will be involved.

What are the total costs that I need to cover?

Climbers pay for their motel room (if necessary) and any transportation costs (gas). Scholarships are available upon request.

Are we required to raise funds for our climb and for TSNW?

No. We would never want fundraising to stop someone from joining the summer mountain climbing program. However, there is some expense and our participants have traditionally raised money for TSNW programs, which benefits women cancer survivors who are not at the same point of recovery. Reminder that limited spots will be prioritized for individuals who are fundraising. If you choose not to fundraise, you can still be considered for an open spot should any be available. See more in the fundraising section.

Is it worth it?

Absolutely! Our climbers walk away from this experience with new friendships, improved health, and the feeling that they can accomplish anything. It is life-changing.


Due to restrictions of the size of each climbing team, anyone who is fundraising will be given priority. For those who choose NOT to fundraise, remaining open spots will be filled in the order registered.

Below are some of the ways that we will work with you to make fundraising a positive experience:

why fundraise?

Team Survivor Northwest’s mountain climbs have always been a great personal challenge and a rewarding experience for our members while getting back to fitness. They have also been important fundraisers for TSNW.

Cancer treatment is tough, and you got through it. Now you are getting back your life and reaching for the mountain top. We are proud of you, amazed that after all you have gone through, you’re doing this. We want you to celebrate your experience, and we want your friends and family to join you and support you in your celebration. 

If you are willing to raise funds and support other programs that will allow more women cancer survivors to get to the point that you are in your journey, THANK YOU!

Set your own goal.

You decide what feels right for you. We recommend starting with a goal in the $1,000 – $1,500 range to cover your own cost and support programs. Many climbers are surprised how quickly they pass their goal.

Use our platform.

We will set up a campaign on Click&Pledge with your own personal link so you can easily request donations, track your progress, receive personal notes from donors and work as a team to achieve something great!

though appreciated, fundraising is not a requirement.

There are obstacles and challenges in training for a climb, but TSNW does not want money or fundraising to be one of them. If you are hesitating because the fundraising seems too onerous, or because you’ve asked your family and friends before, or for any other reason, please know we would like you to join the climb regardless.

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