Climbers crash Mount St. Helens permit website

LONGVIEW, Wash. (KOIN) — A website for Mount St. Helens climbers crashed when more than 15,000 people attempted to buy one of the $22 climbing permits.

Mount St. Helens Institute Executive Director Ray Yurkewycz said the website crashed the morning of Thursday, Feb. 1 due to overwhelming demand -- a 300% spike. However, they were able to get the site back up Monday, Feb. 5.

Yurkewycz said two and a half times more people tried getting permits this year in the first hour compared to 2017.

"Last year we had about 5,000 and this year, 15,000 and there was about 4,000 people at a time trying to purchase permits in a given hour and the serves weren't equipped for that," Yurkewycz said.

He said more people are heading outdoors and are being made more aware of opportunities through Facebook groups.

Many of those interested are local -- either from Washington or Oregon, however, some of the traffic came from all over. Yurkewycz said it's a popular destination that attracts people from different backgrounds and places.

"We've seen about 10-15% a year increase from permits sold," Yurkewycz said. "If you've been to the Gorge or outdoors, you've seen more people, and we've seen that at Mount St. Helens too. The demand really skyrocketed outside that trend that we've been seeing."

Fortunately, those still interested in climbing Mount St. Helens have another chance to get a permit, according to the institute. 

There are almost 40,000 permits for the entire season -- which runs from April 1 to Oct. 31 and about 80% of the permits are still available.

Those wanting a permit will have another chance on Feb. 26 at 9 a.m.

The permits are needed for anyone planning to ascend above 4,800 feet on the 8,363-foot volcano.

The Associated Press contributed to this report


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