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Rescue efforts to resume for climber who fell into Mt. St. Helens crater

February 16, 2010 |  8:30 am


Washington state authorities plan to resume efforts this morning to rescue a climber who fell into the crater at Mt. St. Helens Monday afternoon.

Rescuers believe that the 52-year-old Washington man was hiking with a friend and moved to the rim to have his picture taken when the ledge of snow he was standing on gave way, sending him sliding about 1,500 feet into the crater.

The rescue attempt was suspended Monday evening when high winds made footing unstable for search personnel.

One rescuer reached the floor of the volcano's crater, but had to abandon efforts to find the man because strong downdrafts were dislodging rocks, said David Cox, Skamania County undersheriff.

At last sighting he was not moving.

"The pilot did a reconnaissance flight, got up relatively close, could not see any movement," Tom McDowell, North Country Emergency Medical Service director, told "Good Morning America" Monday. "He didn't make any effort to signal the helicopter."

The man has been described as an experienced hiker who has climbed the mountain as many as 68 times.

The now-dormant volcano erupted with catastrophic force in 1980, devastating 230 square miles of forest and creating the crater at the top of the mountain, now a popular hiking destination.

The climb to its crater provides outstanding views of the lava dome, blast area and surrounding volcanic peaks, but the U.S. Forest Service warns of the instability of the cornices and strongly advises extreme caution be used near the crater rim, as it is unstable and prone to sudden failure

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Some cornices on the crater rim of Mt. St. Helens. Credit: U.S. Geological Survey


Climber falls into Mt. St. Helens crater; rescue effort underway

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