American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Lightning—Wyoming, Grand Teton

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1977

LIGHTNING—Wyoming, Grand Teton. Jane Constantino (28) and Ralph Hill were climbing the Petzoldt Ridge on the Grand when a large thunderstorm, including hail and snow, hit them from the west. The party reached the notch at the top of the lower ridge and stopped there to wait out the storm. About 12:30 p.m. they felt strong ground currents and suffered burns everyplace that their bodies were in contact with the rock. The current was strong enough to render them helpless for about an hour, although they remained conscious. They bandaged each other’s burns and climbed over to the Exum ridge, then rappelled into the gully below Wallstreet. They arrived at the Lower Saddle at 8:30 p.m. where they spent the night. The following day Ms. Constantino came into the Jenny Lake Ranger Station where her condition was examined by Dave Carman and Jan Boyle. Her right arm was burned from the top of the shoulder to the elbow, the burns were third degree in places. This was redressed with dry sterile bandage. There were also burns across her back and left shoulder which were not redressed. Her shirt had burn holes in other places, and her socks were burned inside her boots. (Source: Dave Carman, Grand Teton National Park)

Analysis: When lightning is about and retreat is impossible minimum contact with the rock will reduce burned areas. In this case all body surfaces touching the rock were burned. (Source: Pete Hart, Grand Teton National Park)

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