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


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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Comments (5)

Give that man a Darwin award for improving the gene pool.

Most avalanche savvy ski mountaineers would not approach such a cornice without being roped into a harness with solid protection downslope.


I spoke with a scientist at the Cascades Volcano Observatory, and she told me that while "dormant" is not incorrect, they try to stay away from that term.

She added that many may misunderstand "dormant" to say the volcano is completely inactive and will stay that way, which could lead visitors to not take into account that they are at a volcano that could become restless again at any time.

She said they prefer terms such as "quiet" or "sleeping," which I will use in future posts when mentioning Mt. St. Helens.
Thank you for reading, and commenting,

Kelly Burgess

@ sss, if you do some research you'll read that he bulge has actualy stopped growing since mid 2008, or early 2009 as some rangers told me at the visitor center.

A very important error: Mt. St. Helens is not dormant. It is an active stratovolcano with a bulging center.... and that bulge is growing. Please adjust your research/article.


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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.