This was a pic I took in the Spring of '91 from the summit of the crater. It is looking down at the lava dome that began forming after the 1980 eruption. By this time the dome had grown to almost 1000' high. This is what will most likely explode in the next week or two. The trip to the summit up the south flank was my first real mountaineering I did. I was woefully unprepared and got back to the parking lot shivering and wet. The following year I had the proper gear to get to the summit of St Helens' sister volcano, Mt Adams, with a minimum amount of difficulty.
This is a pic I took the following year of the lava dome at eye level. I had hiked around to the breach on the north side and then took off cross country in an illegal hike. My goal was to touch the dome. I wanted to feel the energy. I was stopped by a very steep-sided gully which had no way around. Let me tell you that I was scared shitless by this point. This is an extremely unstable environment. There were rock falls all around me. As you can see, there was steam emanating from the dome. There could be a small steam explosion at any time which could easily shoot a rock the size of a baseball at your head with the velocity of a bullet. It was a great adrenalin rush. I had met 2 other guys hiking illegally just before I was stopped. We each thought the other was a ranger and that we were busted. When I mentioned that we could get busted for being in the forbidden zone, one grabbed his crotch and said, "Yeah, I got their forbidden zone right here!"