Climbing Permits

2018 Climbing Permit Update: February 21, 2018 2:30 PM PST

Remaining climbing permits will go on sale at www.mshinstitute.org on Monday, February 26th at 9:00 a.m. PST. We experienced major technical difficulties on February 1st due to extreme demand (300% greater than 2017) and had to suspend the permit purchasing system until February 26th. We're truly sorry for the frustrations and inconveniences everyone experienced on February 1st.

We will be utilizing the services of a new transaction processor, RecAccess, when climbing permit sales resume on February 26th. RecAccess is an online permit service that is user friendly and currently being used by National Wildlife Refuges across the United States.  TheRecAccess Team wants climbers to spend nominal time online obtaining permits and more time on the mountain. To learn more about RecAccess, visit http://recaccess.com/.

A link for the climbing permit purchasing will be made available here at that time. 

This button, which will redirect to the online vendor for 2018 climbing permits, will become active on February 26, 2018 at 9:00 AM PST.

This button, which will redirect to the online vendor for 2018 climbing permits, will become active on February 26, 2018 at 9:00 AM PST.

Approximately 20% of 2018 permits were successfully purchased on February 1st, leaving 80% still available for purchase on February 26th. We had initially planned to hold back 10% of permits per day and make them available the month before a climb to give folks the chance to get permits who weren’t able to purchase permits on February 1st. Due to the challenges experienced on the initial on-sale date, we have decided to do away with the 10% hold back. All remaining permits will be available on Feb. 26th.

Demand for permits is greater than the supply, so there is no guarantee of securing your preferred date(s) or number of climbing permits. Please plan accordingly.

Click HERE to view remaining climbing permits by date for the 2018 season.

The Mount St. Helens Institute recognizes how frustrating and time-consuming this process has been for those wishing to purchase permits. Resolving these issues and improving the process for everyone is our highest priority.


Everyone must have a climbing permit to be above 4,800 feet elevation on Mount St. Helens. The permit system helps to protect the volcano’s physical and biological features and processes; reduces crowding and overuse; and provides climbers with information on climbing conditions, Leave No Trace principles, and safety.  The permit system has been in effect since 1987. 

  • Mount St. Helens climbing permits are administered by Mount St. Helens Institute (MSHI) through an online vendor. The MSHI online vendor is a secure website that accepts all major credit and debit cards. Climbers will be emailed a permit purchase confirmation receipt at the time of purchase.
  • The total permit fee of $22 per person includes a service charge which helps support MSHI’s Mountain Stewards, Conservation Corps and other volunteer and youth education programs at Mount St. Helens. Climbing permits are not refundable. If climbing is suspended by the Forest Service, permit sales will also be suspended. 
  • From April 1 to October 31, climbing permits are available online by advance purchase only. Do not wait until the day of your climb to purchase your permit.  Unsold permits may be purchased online until 24-hours before the date of the climb.
  • Once you complete your permit purchase through the online vendor, all sales are final. Refunds are not possible. You cannot change climbing dates once your purchase is complete. Please plan accordingly before completing your purchase

2018 UPDATES TO THE PERMIT SYSTEM

  • In order to increase well-being and safety on the volcano, climbers will be prompted through their confirmation email to register the names of all climbers in their party before their climb. This information will help climbing rangers to better respond to emergencies and will help discourage unauthorized climbing permit resales. This may be done at any time between the sale date and date of the climb.
  • We had initially planned to hold back 10% of permits per day and make them available the month before a climb to give folks the chance to get permits who weren’t able to purchase permits on February 1st. Due to the challenges experienced on the initial on-sale date, we have decided to do away with the 10% hold back. All remaining permits will be available on Feb. 26th.  

At 8,328 feet high (as measured by USGS in 2009), Mount St. Helens offers climbers a breathtaking view from the crater rim. Although it is not a technical climb, it is strenuous and hazardous due to ice, large boulders, loose pumice, fast-changing weather and volcanism. Climbers should be in very good physical condition, well equipped, informed about volcanic hazards, and have plenty of water and food.

The Mount St. Helens Institute has partnered with the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument to help protect the volcano’s fragile features and to ensure climbers have a safe, low-impact experience on the volcano.

Before climbing Mount St. Helens, please read climbing rules, road and trail conditions, and other important information from the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

WHO DO I CALL IF I AM HAVING PROBLEMS WITH MY TRANSACTION?

For transaction-related questions i.e. credit card issues, purchase confirmation email, etc, please call Discover Your Northwest at (877) 874-6775. For all permit, climbing, or other related questions, call the Mount St. Helens Institute at (360) 449-7883

WHEN PERMITS ARE SOLD OUT FOR YOUR PREFERRED DATE(S): WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS?

If the date you want to climb has no more available permits, you can check back the last day of the month preceding your preferred climbing date as some permits wil become available at that time. In response to feedback from climbers, approximately 10% of all permits during the May 16 through October 31st period will not be released until the last day of the month preceding. For example, 10% of all June permits would only be released at 12:01 a.m. on May 31. This change provides climbers who were unable to secure permits on the on-sale date or wanted to make last-minute arrangements a chance to secure permits.

If you have purchased a climbing permit and no longer are able to climb on that date, you may visit purmit.com to search for permits for sale or to offer your climbing permit(s) for sale. We do not manage purmit.com and we are not responsible for permit exchange or transfer transactions after the original date of sale. To transfer ownership of a permit, the owner must give/email the confirmation receipt as well as the permits to the recipient along with a written statement or email that the recipient is allowed to use the purchaser’s permit(s).

WHO NEEDS A CLIMBING PERMIT AND WHEN?

If you are climbing between November 1st - March 31st, you must self register at either Climbers Bivouac or Marble Mountain Sno-Park’s climber registers. There is no fee for permits during this period.

If you are climbing between April 1st - October 31st, you must purchase your permit by clicking the “SEARCH NOW” button. Permits are $22.00. Permits are limited to 500/day from April 1st - May 14th, and 100/day from May 15th - October 31st. You are also required to self-register at either Climbers Bivouac or Marble Mountain Sno-Park’s climber registers.

A National Forest Recreation Pass (parking permits) is required to park at Climber’s Bivouac and is not provided with climbing permits at time of purchase. Climbers are required to display a valid National Forest Recreation Day Pass ($5/day) or National Forest Recreation Annual Pass ($30) on each car parked at Climber’s Bivouac. Day Passes are available for purchase at a self-service pay station at Climber’s Bivouac, at monument facilities, or online through Discover Your Northwest (http://www.discovernw.org/passes

Between November 1 and March 31 climbing passes are available by self-registration at no charge at the Climber’s register. A National Forest Recreation Day Pass is not required at Marble Mountain Sno-Park between April 1 to October 31. A Washington State Sno-Park permit is required from December 1 through March 31, permits may be purchased through Washington State Parks (http://parks.state.wa.us/130/Winter-Recreation). 

More questions about permits or climbing Mount St. Helens?

Check our FAQ page, email us at climb@mshinstitute.org or call us at 360-449-7883.