Every weekend from late March until the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980, Pullman resident Barry Johnston watched the volcano with his then-wife, Trixie Anders, a Washington State University doctoral student in geology.
On May 16, 1980, Johnston and Anders camped out on Spud Mountain with their friend Jim Fitzgerald, another geology student. The couple opted to stay at a motel in Toutle, Wash., the next night, while Fitzgerald again camped on the mountain. The next morning, after stopping for breakfast, the pair arrived at the Spud Mountain turnoff to see Mount St. Helens erupting. After taking a couple photos, they hightailed it down mountain roads, chased by a cloud of volcanic debris and escaping with their lives. Fitzgerald’s body was later recovered from his blue Datsun.
The photos in this set were shared by Johnston, but they include images by other photographers he traded with after the eruption. These images have been noted as “photographer unknown.”