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The nation’s most famous volcano, Mount Saint Helens (8,365 feet), closed due to volcanic activity since Fall 2004, will reopen to climbers in late July. Access to the volcano will be granted via the south side route, Monitor Ridge.
According to Monument Scientist, Peter Frenzen, the area is stable — at least for the moment. However, Frenzen underscores that the existing conditions — relatively benign, gas-free eruptions and steadily oozing lava — might not be permanent. Therefore, the seismology will be continually monitored. As Frenzen says, “ … with volcanoes you can’t ever tell what’s going to happen next!”
An example of such unpredictability is the continuous rise and fall of new slabs of rock inside the crater, such as the recent collapse of the 300 feet fin just formed this May.
USGS geologist Tom Pierson also clarifies: “As of today, even though there are lava extrusions every one to three minutes pushing new slabs of rock upward inside the crater, the earthquake rate following such eruptions has slowed down, leaving the area safer for climbers.”
To coincide with Mount Saint Helens reopening to climbers, the US Forest Service will institute a new climbing permit and reservation system.