American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Washington—Mt. Stuart

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1953

Washington—Mt. Stuart: Robert Grant (19) and Paul Brikoff (20) set out early on August 10, 1952 to climb Mt. Stuart (9,470 feet). The weather was clear at the start. They were climbing by the west ridge when a storm overtook them. It became cloudy and began to hail. They found sanctuary in a cave where they left their pitons. The weather cleared in about 20 minutes. There were lightning flashes onto a neighboring ridge but no static electricity on their ridge. They decided to continue the climb. The summit was reached. Lightning was striking nearby peaks as Grant attempted to discourage Brikoff’s stopping to sign the summit register. Hardly had the book been placed back in the register box when the lightning struck. According to Grant they were struck at least five times. Paralyzed they were both helpless to do much of anything although they could talk. Grant, about 30 feet below, tried to get to Brikoff to give him artifical respiration but was unable to do so because of his paralysis. The last bolt struck causing Brikoff to fall to his death on the rocks some 30 feet below. Grant, in an extreme state of shock, and paralysis spent the rest of the day and that night on the mountain. The next morning, his paralysis somewhat improved, although his right leg was almost useless, he started down the mountain. In the late afternoon he reached the valley floor where he built a fire. Rescuers found him there the following morning at 7:30. He has now fully recovered.

Source: Mountain Rescue Council and Robert Grant.

Comment: Apparently because of youthful inexperience and over-exuberance this party failed to recognize the real danger of a nearby electrical storm.

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