At the end of this mountain-climbing season, more than the entire population of Salem will have ventured to the top of the Cascades.
Along the way, accidents will have caused broken bones and perhaps deaths, rescuers will have pushed their personal limits, Forest Service districts will have collected thousands of dollars in fees and climbers will have seen the world in a different way.
The Cascade Mountains are popular with climbers partly because they are so easy to reach. Alaska's Denali Mountain requires an airplane flight to a snowy base camp. Mount Hood requires a car ride to a ski lodge.
"The Cascades are this string of independent volcanoes," said Hans Castren, chief climbing ranger at Mount St. Helens.
"There is a lot of space between Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens that you wouldn't see in the Sierras or the Rockies. These mountains are very accessible."
Mount St. Helens, in particular, is extremely popular.
Last year, 13,144 people bought climbing permits for the erupted volcano. Mount St. Helens is one of the easiest mountain climbs in the Cascade Range. People intent on the summit don't need ropes and often don't need crampons.
But rangers don't want to give the impression that mountain climbing is a walk in the park.
They emphasize preparation, common sense and competent climbing companions. They expect climbers to carry the appropriate equipment, purchase permits if required and call about weather conditions.
Despite the worry about safety, experts note that mountaineering accidents are rare, even though search-and-rescue operations draw a lot of attention.
The American Alpine Club reports that between 1990 and 1999, there were almost 98,000 attempts to summit Mount Rainier - the tallest and most difficult major peak in the Cascades - and 13 people died.
On Mount Shasta, 49,488 people tried to reach the summit between 1998 and 2003, and five people died. On Mount Adams, only two people are known to have died.
Athearn also notes that the number of climbing accidents has remained constant while the number of climbers has increased.
"You will never be able to get rid of the risks of climbing," he said. "Accidents will happen just as people trip while crossing the street or going down stairs...but on mountains, when things go bad, they can sometimes go bad in a very dramatic way."
Certainly those risks have decreased since the 1850s, when white Europeans ventured into high altitudes. Not only did they lack Gore-Tex, sunscreen and mountaineering boots - mountains were different.