Mountain Climbing is Best When You're Wearing a Dress

Grab a dress and celebrate Mother's Day at the summit of Mt. Saint Helens.

By: Brian & Alyssa Wood
November 8, 2016

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What's your Mother's Day tradition? Ours normally involves celebrating with one of our families, but last year we mixed things up a bit by joining 500 others to climb Mt. St. Helens while wearing dresses to honor Moms everywhere.

Being from North Carolina and Texas, we'd never heard of this tradition, but it's a well known event for Pacific Northwest natives and has been going on for a while. While we couldn't peg down the origins, we met fellow hikers that boasted that they had been participating for 10, 15, or even 20 years. 

Not surprisingly many of the hikers don't have a slew of dresses in their closets, so the Portland Goodwills get pretty picked over, so get there early. And as ridiculous as it might sound, dress selection is very important. You don't want a long dress that will obstruct your view of your footing. Also, you don't want a dress that is too tight on your chest since you might wanna squeeze some layers under there. Also, you don't want any restrictions on your legs, so no pencil skirts! As far as style goes, overall, the more ludicrous the better.

The celebration begins the night before when hikers set up camp near the trailhead at the Marble Mountain Sno-Park. Permits are required for this hike and are limited to 500, but that is plenty of people to fill the Sno-Park and create a festival type atmosphere. Everywhere you look there are men with beards giddily running around in dresses. 

We hit the trail at 6am for the optimum weather conditions, and it seems like most people aim to start by then, if not earlier. Throughout the hike we found ourselves hiking, climbing and laughing in a sea of dress-clad hikers and climbers. It was fantastic.

We made our way through the forest to the rocky terrain and then hit the snow. After a few hours we moved above the clouds and pressed on to the summit where we were blown away by the view of Mt. Rainier and the impressive mile-wide crater left by St. Helens’ 1980 explosion. 


At the summit the celebration continued. We were surrounded by people toasting and taking photos that said "Happy Mother's Day, Mom!" 

Now it was time for the fun, easy part—going down. We pulled our waterproof pants over our muddy skirts and glissaded most of the way down. We slid down what had taken several hours to climb in about one hour and then made our way back to the Sno-Park to part ways.

When we were packing up and fellow hikers from other groups came by to say "See you guys next year!" and we thought, they're probably right. We had so much fun, we might have to make this our new Mother's Day Tradition. 

Sorry to our Moms.

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.