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.