This paper presents the design and deployment experience of an air-dropped wireless sensor network for volcano hazard monitoring. The deployment of five stations into the rugged crater of Mount St. Helens only took one hour with a helicopter. The stations communicate with each other through an amplified 802.15.4 radio and establish a self-forming and self-healing multi-hop wireless network. The distance between stations is up to 2 km. Each sensor station collects and delivers real-time continuous seismic, infrasonic, lightning, GPS raw data to a gateway. The main contribution of this paper is the design and evaluation of a robust sensor network to replace data loggers and provide real-time long-term volcano monitoring. The system supports UTC-time synchronized data acquisition with 1ms accuracy, and is online configurable. It has been tested in the lab environment, the outdoor campus and the volcano crater. Despite the heavy rain, snow, and ice as well as gusts exceeding 120 miles per hour, the sensor network has achieved a remarkable packet delivery ratio above 99% with an overall system uptime of about 93.8% over the 1.5 months evaluation period after deployment. Our initial deployment experiences with the system have alleviated the doubts of domain scientists and prove to them that a low-cost sensor network system can support real-time monitoring in extremely harsh environments. Copyright 2009 ACM.