Lightning Strikes!

Have an interesting or epic climbing story? Post it here.
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Postby JimR » Mon Aug 13, 2007 11:37 am Amazing, and scary. Glad to hear you're ok.
I have more age than experience, more experience than knowledge, and more knowledge than wisdom.
Yet somehow I usually make it back to the car safely; and oftentimes, so do the people that I'm with.
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Postby jwproulx » Mon Aug 13, 2007 2:15 pm

Sobering. Makes me realize how lucky I've been.
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Postby kimmarielovescolorado » Mon Aug 13, 2007 2:20 pm

this is crazy.

on my climb of mt. massive this weekend my boyfriend and i talked a lot about what would happen if we were so close to a summit and we heard thunder or saw lightning. i know we'd have to turn around but even with darkening clouds when i am so close, i really want to keep going and he's always the one to say, if they get any worse i will drag you back down this mountain, even if you hate me forever. after this story, i think totally differently about the whole thing.

i think as human beings we have that 'it can't happen to me' type attitude, but the truth of the matter is it can.

and every single time you climb a mountain or go for a long hike you run the risk of something happening.

even so, as we climbed mt. massive's sw slopes it was completely sunny and beautiful as soon as we got to one of the many false summits it was a totally different story and on the drive home one of the storms we were watching ended up exploding and i was very glad we'd beat it.

so glad that you're okay!

i would love to see those pictures.
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Postby dukex2x01 » Mon Aug 13, 2007 4:03 pm

How crazy! Glad you're ok. It's wierd how those storms can come from nowhere.
Impossible is nothing!
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Postby djf » Sun Aug 19, 2007 5:36 pm

I got nailed on top of Mt. Bierstadt last August 27th. It wasn't as close as yours but it was close enough to feel it. Felt like somebody smashed the back of my head with a hammer.

Lightning is scary stuff.
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Postby bayouboy » Mon Aug 20, 2007 8:12 pm

WOW....(that's all i can think to say)...
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Postby mtnmike » Wed Aug 22, 2007 1:54 pm

Hey Sparky -- great account of the incident! I can completely relate. A couple years ago I climbed North Maroon. It looked like a beautiful summer day, clear and cloudless. Until I scrambled over the last pitch to the summit and could see to the west for the first time all morning. There was a nasty thunderhead roiling just to the west of the Bells. You could actually watch the slow rotation of the cell as it bared down on us few at the summit, and I could see flashes within the clouds - ball lightning, but there was no thunder to it! Quite unexpected for about 10 in the morning!

Even with the storm closing fast, I needed to take a few minutes to rest and eat, so I sat down on the protected side of a boulder and pulled out a bagel and started chowing down. After less than a minute, I could feel that prickling on the back of my neck that I recognized as electricity in the air. At the same moment, I put my bagel down on the rock next to me, and there was a sharp SNAP! and the smell of ozone. I picked up the bagel to find a burn mark where I'd set it down!

I abandoned my snack and started hastily throwing everything in my pack when the strike came...not overhead, but next to us! Several dozen yards south of the summit, along the ridge. The flash blinded me for a second and the thunder slammed me down onto the rocks. For a few seconds it felt like I was getting tasered from multiple directions as electricity arced between me and the rock. Those of us left on the summit scooped up our gear and literally ran down the mountain to a series of overhangs a hundred feet or so off the top. The fast-moving storm continued to throw lightning and thunder, along with rain and hail, for about 10 minutes before moving over the summit and dropping into the valley, where the light and sound show continued to creep eastward and away from the peak. I think it's the only time I've ever watched an electrical storm from above!

It's a hell of a welcome to the mountains, but you've been welcomed by the weather gods!!

"Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory." - Ed Viesturs
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Postby wsudhakar » Wed Aug 22, 2007 2:12 pm

Holy Cow!!!! Now that is crazy! And I thought being forced off of Longs in April by 60 mph winds, around 0 temps, and blizzard conditions was extreme. :D

I am so glad that you made it down!

Can't wait to see the pics!
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Postby alig33 » Wed Aug 22, 2007 3:57 pm

We just had to turn around this last sunday on Elbert due to building storms. My husband made the decision, as I wanted to continue. We were so close, less than a half-mile from the summit. Good thing, we did get rained on, but turned around in time to miss out on the thunder/lightning storm. Having appropriate gear can only do so much in a thunderstorm. So glad to hear you're okay, it's an eye-opener and learning experience for everyone.

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