Mount Saint Helens

Elevation (feet): 8,364
Elevation (meters): 2,549
Continent: North America
Country: United States
Range/Region: Cascade Range
State: Washington
Latitude: 46.1978
Longitude: -122.191
Difficulty: Walk up
Best months for climbing: Mar, Apr, May, Jun
Most recent eruption: 2008
Year first climbed: 1853
First successful climber(s): Thomas Dryer and party
Nearest major airport: Seattle, Washington or Portland, Oregon
Convenient Center: Amboy, Washington (National Monument headquarters)

Mount Saint Helens is an active volcano, having exploded in a series of violent eruptions in 1980, after over a century of dormancy. Its elevation today is more than 1,000 feet smaller than it was prior to its eruption, when it rose to 9,677 feet.

The 1980 explosion blew 3,000 feet of elevation off the northern rim, destroyed surrounding forests, and either blew away or melted the mountain's many small glaciers. Following the eruption, 85,000 acres were preserved as the Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument, where one can witness nature's healing process firsthand. The entire area provides fascinating exploration, and from the summit, one can peer over the rim into a crater that still houses a smoking, throbbing lava dome.

Following a brief period of dormancy, the volcano resumed activity in 2004. Trails to the summit were closed temporarily, but a limited number of climbers were permitted access again in late 2006 despite ongoing low intensity eruptive activity.

The mountain was named in honor of Baron St. Helens, Alleyne Fitzherbert, British ambassador to the Court of Madrid. Native names include Lawala Clough meaning Smoking Mountain, Low-We-Not-Thlat meaning Throwing up Smoke, and Low-We-Lat-Klah meaning The Smoking Mountain.

Today inside the crater is a doughnut-shaped glacier that completely encircles the lava dome. The Crater Glacier is the youngest glacier on the planet and also the fastest growing glacier on the planet.