SEATTLE — Authorities say the body of a climber who fell into the crater atop Mount St. Helens has been recovered.
The Skamania County Sheriff’s office says the body of Joseph Bohlig was found Tuesday, more than a day after the 52-year-old man tumbled 1,500 feet.
Bohlig, of Kelso, Wash., reached the summit with a climbing partner after a four-hour hike Monday.
Bohlig took off his backpack and a layer of clothing then decided to pose for pictures near the rim of the crater. He was backing up when the snow gave way and he fell.
Rescue hampered by weather
Foul weather had hampered helicopter rescue efforts. Overnight temperatures overnight at the crater fell into the 20s.
One rescuer reached the floor of the volcano’s crater, but had to abandon efforts to find the 50-year-old man because strong downdrafts were dislodging rocks, Skamania County undersheriff David Cox said. The rescue will pick up again Tuesday morning, he said.
“There are always overhanging cornices of snow this time of year, and unless you look carefully, you may not notice that there is nothing but air beneath you,” said Rocky Henderson of Portland Mountain Rescue in Oregon, who has climbed to the rim several times.
Rescue efforts began when a 911 cell phone call was received early Monday afternoon, sheriff’s officials said. The caller told dispatchers that the climber was approximately 5 feet from the crater’s edge when a snow cornice collapsed.
A helicopter that does contract work for the U.S. Geological Survey spotted the fallen climber on a steep slope near the bottom of the crater but was unable to pick him up because of high winds and whiteout conditions, Cox said.
A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter also had to abort its effort to find the man because of the winds.
The climber was heard blowing an emergency whistle Monday afternoon, and authorities last heard from him just before darkness fell.
Mount St. Helens blew its top with devastating force on May 18, 1980, leveling 230 square miles of forest.
The climb to its crater provides outstanding views of the lava dome, blast area and surrounding volcanic peaks, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Most climbers complete the round trip in 7 to 12 hours, but the service’s Web site warns people to stay back from the crater’s rim because of its instability.