Mount St. Helens Climbing Online Permit System Opens - Volcano Climbing to Resume on Friday

Release Date: Jul 13, 2006

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For Immediate Release: July 13, 2006
Contact: Maggie Dowd (360) 449-7843 and Roger Peterson (360) 891-5007

Mount St. Helens Climbing Online Permit System Opens Today

Volcano Climbing to Resume on Friday, July 21


AMBOY, WA – Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument officials announced the resumption of Mount St. Helens climbing on July 21 and today’s opening of a new online system for permit sales by the Mount St. Helens Institute. “After more than a year and a half closure, we’re excited to be collaborating with the Institute and to once again be offering the opportunity for people to climb to the crater rim,” said Claire Lavendel, Forest Supervisor of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. “Fortunately, the ongoing eruption of lava onto the crater floor continues to be largely gas-free and non-explosive,” said Tom Mulder, Monument Manager. “Geologists tell us that the chance of material other than airborne ash reaching the crater rim during explosive eruption is very small. We’re asking climbers to be aware of the small but very real risk associated with climbing an active volcano. It’s important that climbers learn about the potential hazards and carry recommended safety equipment in the event of a possible explosive eruption,” Mulder added.

On July 21 the monument will also be reopening previously closed hiking trails in the valley between the crater and Spirit Lake (Loowit Trail #216, Truman Trail #207, Windy Trail #216E, Willow Trail #207A and Loowit Falls Viewpoint Trail #216F). Although geologists say the probability of an eruption generated debris flow or mudflow leaving the crater is small, Mount St. Helens hikers need to exercise caution when crossing gullies and streams draining the mountain, especially on the north side. Trails in the Spirit Lake basin have received no hiking traffic and have had little trail maintenance over the last 18 months. Hikers should be prepared for steep, unstable scrambling when crossing gullies and streams as well as narrow, uneven tread. In some areas, trails may be difficult to see and follow. Rock cairns and wooden posts will aid visitors through challenging route finding sections.

Climbing Permits are Now Available for Purchase Online:

Permits can only be purchased online in advance on a first-come first-served basis through the Mount St. Helens Institute Website: Permits are sold on a first-come, first-served basis by the Mount St. Helens Institute through an online vendor.

Climbing permits may be purchased up to 24-hours in advance of the date of climb.

A permit fee of $15 plus a service charge of $7 per person is charged for a one day permit (valid for 24 hours beginning midnight on the permit date). Total cost per permit is $22.

All sales are final, no changes or refunds. Please plan accordingly.

If climbing is suspended because of increased volcanic activity, climbing permit sales will also be suspended. People who have already purchased permits that are cancelled by the Forest Service can receive a refund for their $15 permit cost only, not the $7 service charge.

Purchasers will be e-mailed a confirmation receipt at the time of purchase.

Climbers must redeem their receipt for their actual climbing permit at the Climber’s Register at Jack’s Restaurant & Store during business hours. (Jack’s in Yale, WA is located on State Route 503, 23 miles east of Interstate 5, Exit #21 at Woodland, WA). For online map and directions Jack’s physical address is:
13411 Lewis River Road, Ariel, WA.

Climbing permits will be available to be picked up at Jack’s starting at 10 a.m. on the day before the date of the climb.

There will be no lottery for unsold permits. All permit sales will be in advance and through the Mount St. Helens Institute. Available permits may be purchased online up to 24 hours prior to climbing date.

Climbing permits are required year-round to climb above 4800 feet elevation. Each person must display their signed permit during the climb. Between July 21 and October 31, 2006 climbing is limited to 100 climbers per day. Maximum party size is 12.

The $15 permit fee is used by the Forest Service to manage the climbing program, and maintain roads and facilities. The $7 service charge is used by the Mount St. Helens Institute to fund the website and permit processing by the online vendor and to provide educational and resource management programs. The Institute is actively building support to maintain and develop new exhibits, educational materials, family field trips and in-depth hands-on activities that showcase the fascinating discoveries being made at Mount St. Helens.

Climbing Safety:

* The generally non-explosive, dome-building eruption continues. Climbers may be exposing themselves to volcanic hazards that cannot be forecast and may occur without warning. Explosions or gas emissions in the crater may throw volcanic ash and rock fragments above the crater rim. In rare instances, rocks may be large enough to cause serious injury or death.

* Recommended safety equipment for climbers includes a climbing helmet or hard hat, dust mask (N-95 type) and goggles or sun glasses with side shields.

* Summer weather on Mount St. Helens can range from hot and dry to cold and wet. Climbers need to be prepared with proper clothing, rain gear, map and compass for route finding in the event of reduced visibility due to low clouds, fog and rain.

* Information about the status of the ongoing eruption and potential volcanic hazards can be obtained by visiting the USGS website:

* Information about potential volcanic hazards and recommended safety equipment for climbers is available at:

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