The situation on Mount St. Helens is grim as rescuers struggle with bad weather today as they try to reach a climber who fell 1,500 feet into the dormant crater. According to the latest story from Associated Press, prospects are uncertain after observers in helicopters reported seeing no movement by the man.
Two attempts to reach climber Joseph Bohlig, 52, of Kelso by helicopter were turned back Monday by winds and fading daylight.
“There was no movement of the head, no attempt to signal,” said Lt. Brooks Crawford, the pilot of a Coast Guard helicopter, said in the story. He said the man’s torso was covered with snow, with his arms, legs and head sticking out.
The National Weather Service said the overnight temperature on the mountain likely dropped to the upper 20s.
A helicopter from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station was dispatched today despite lingering clouds and winds on the mountain. An avalanche danger prevented a ground rescue attempt.
Bohlig had been standing on the rim of the crater with a climbing partner when a snow overhang gave way and he fell into the volcano, Skamania County Undersheriff David Cox said.
Almost two years ago, there was a similar incident. Here is a post from Craig Hill on April 17, 2008:
There aren’t many views more spectacular than a look inside Mount St. Helens from the crater rim. But thanks to a deeper-than-normal snowpack, there will be cornices on the rim blocking the view into the crater well into the spring.
Should you climb St. Helens in the next few months, the temptation will be to scurry out on to one of these cornices, but Gifford Pinchot National Forest officials issued a reminder to not do this earlier this week.
Why not? Just ask John Slemp, a snowmobiler from Oregon. He climbed out on a cornice to look in the crater on Saturday. When the cornice collapsed, he fell into the crater. Slemp, still wearing his helmet, survived. He has not returned calls from The News Tribune this week.
If you want to view the crater, but cornices are in the way, make sure you are on solid ground then work your way around the rim. I climbed St. Helens last June only to have my view blocked. I only had to walk about 200 yards along the rim before I could see inside the crater.