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The DAILY DIRT - The nitty and the gritty of outdoor news

Lunchbox's Disaster Roundup: Man Dies In Mt. St. Helens Crater

The beloved star of our in-book feature "The Predicament," Lunchbox the Cadaver Sniffing Dog, rounds up this week's outdoor predicaments, disasters, and near-misses

Lunchbox here: Sad news from the Pacific Northwest, as rescuers recovered the body of a 52-year-old man who went plunging into the crater of Mt. St. Helens when the cornice he was standing on for a photo broke off.

Joseph Bohlig is described as an experienced mountaineer who recently returned from a climbing trip in Ecuador. After a successful winter ascent of the peak, he posed at the edge for a photo with Mt. Rainier as a backdrop. His climbing companion could only watch as the climber's weight caused the cornice to break only 10 feet away, sending Bohlig 1,500 down into the crater. For a while, SAR personnel believed the man could be alive inside the crater, but bad weather hampered search efforts. By the time a helicopter reached him, it was clear he had succumbed to extensive blunt trauma from the fall.
Lunchbox's lesson: Standing near an uncertain edge for a photo is never worth it—and cornices are almost always uncertain. These wave-shaped snow drifts form on the lee sides of ridges and can break under a hiker's weight, no matter how solid they look. You should hike as far away from the edge as possible.

—Lunchbox

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Scott Hicks
Feb 18, 2010

I read a news article that said this was his 68th climb up St.Helens. A tragic reminder of what can happen when we get too comfortable in some of nature's most spectacular spots, no matter how many times we have been there. Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family.

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