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Mount St. Helens: Volcano Villarrica Scare Revisited

Months have passed since that terrifying November afternoon in Pucon, Chile.  Yet I think of the experience often.  The near misadventure hit home a bit harder after reading about the Mount St. Helens tragedy on February 15, 2010 (thanks for the heads up, Steve).

My first plane ride was at age 12 during a family trip to America’s Pacific Northwest and Canada.  Mount St. Helens was a highlight for all four of us and left a curiosity of volcanoes with me.  Though the infamous 1980 eruption claimed 57 souls, the majestic stratovolcano remains dangerous.  The lastest victim was 52 year old Joseph Bohlig, an experienced climber.

Volcano Villarrica Summit Volcano Villarrica Sulfuric Smoke What Lies Below?  Glad To Never Know

Reading about his fatal climb of this Pacific Ring of Fire volcano left me shaken once again. The similarities are numerous. “Boom, it busted off and I saw him clawing for the edge with a startled look on his face, and then he disappeared. I was looking right at him, he was only 10 feet away, then he just disappeared,” said fellow climber Scott Salkovics. Falling 1,500 feet onto rock and ice, Joseph is presumed to have died from trauma related to the fall, no autopsy required.

To anyone reading this, I beg you to seek proper advice before setting out on a snow covered volcano. You simply don’t know the thickness of snow/ice whether in a flat area or on a cornice. Joseph was an experienced climber. Ashley and I had two guides. Accidents like these do happen, sometimes with horrific consequences.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

Read the Mount St. Helens story HERE

Read our original Volcano Villariaca, Chile post HERE

- Greg

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