VANCOUVER, Wash. — Climbers scaled Mt. St. Helens to peer into the mile-wide crater as the volcano marked the seventh anniversary of its devastating eruption in unusual fashion Monday--by staying quiet.
"Seven years after the 'Big One,' the mountain's vital signs are pretty stable," said geologist Pat Pringle of the Cascades Volcano Observatory, operated by the U.S. Geological Survey.
The situation was far different at 8:31 a.m. on the quiet Sunday morning of May 18, 1980, when 57 people died and 500 square miles of forest was destroyed as the mountaintop exploded with a mighty roar.
Observation crews flew into the crater Monday, taking their periodic measurements of the dome's size and checking instruments to make sure they function properly.