Thursday, August 16, 2007

More on hiker struck by lightning

28-year-old Justin Eggleston from Boulder was struck in the head by a bolt of lightning while descending Mount Elbert during an afternoon storm Wednesday. Read the whole story here. It was his first fourteener. He and his girlfriend had summited the mountain sometime after noon, and were running down, still above treeline, amid hail and lightning, when he was struck. He blacked out, but came to, and with help of other hikers, was able to walk down to his car.
Eggleston told the Vail Daily his ordeal won’t stop him from hiking more peaks in the future. He’ll just work out his timing a bit better. “(I’m) definitely not going to be coming down any mountains at 3 o’clock. I guess the rule of thumb is to come down by noon so I’m going to stick to that,” he said.
Good rule of thumb. But for the inexperienced climber, it's not enough. So here's a better one.

YOU WILL TRAVEL MUCH SLOWER UP A FOURTEENER THAN YOU THINK. ONE MILE PER HOUR IS AN OPTIMISTIC ESTIMATE. PLAN TO BE HEADING DOWN BY 10 A.M. IF YOU WANT TO GUARANTEE A SUMMIT. THAT OFTEN MEANS RISING WELL BEFORE DAWN. EVEN THEN, DANGEROUS STORMS CAN MOVE IN. GO PREPARED TO TURN BACK.

2 comments:

Lightning McQueen said...

The good news is it only takes one lightning strike to the head to figure that out. Nevertheless, you can live the rule all you want, but if the storm (and sometimes they are sneaky with dark clouds with little or no lightning until it is sitting above you) comes up fast tree line is still sometimes a half hour away. Lightning will get you if it wants you.

zen said...

Or he could have checked the weather report and seen that CO was scheduled for a 40% chance of heavy rain with heavy cloud to ground lightning along a frontal boundary on Wednesday.

That boy is lucky as hell. Next time Momma Nature might not be so kind.