Sure, Mount St. Helens is right in our backyard. But don’t let the stone’s-throw proximity fool you. If you’re thinking about an adventure to the summit of its famously flattened cinder cone later this spring—which happens to be the 30th anniversary of the volcano’s 1980 eruption—such an endeavor is hardly a spur-of-the-moment affair.

As of 9:00 a.m. this morning 2010 climbing permits went on sale through the Mount St. Helens Institute (passes cost $22). Today is also the first day that you can sign up for the institute’s summer field seminars and guided climbs on the mountain.

You’ll want to get a jump on this because from April 1 through October 31 anyone venturing past the 4,800-foot-level of the mountain needs to purchase a climbing permit in advance. (From November 1 through March 31 daily permits are available at the Lone Fir Resort in Cougar, WA, free of charge) And just as the weather gets nice—after May 15—those permits are limited to just 100 people a day.

Is it a bit of a killjoy to have to do such long-range forecasting for a trip to a peak that, as the crow flies, is roughly 60 miles away from town? In short, yes. But if there was ever a year to plan ahead, this would be it.

And if you’re especially geeked about the eruption’s Pearl anniversary, try checking back with the institute in March when you can sign up for daily Twitter updates recounting the lead-up to the big blast.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m thinking on May 18, a measly 140 characters ain’t gonna cut it.