AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Lightning, Poor Position, Colorado, Eldorado Canyon State Park

LIGHTNING, POOR POSITION

Colorado, Eldorado Canyon State Park

On June 25, 1988, Randall Vett (21) and Adam Hurst (25) hiked to the top of the Naked Edge intending to rappel down and climb the last two pitches. Bad weather had moved into the area by the time the party reached the top of the climb. It is believed that they decided to rappel down the route rather than descend the way they had come up, in order to escape the weather. Just when they were beginning to rappel, they were struck by lightning. Randall, who was just starting to rappel, was knocked unconscious. His clothing jammed into his rappel device, preventing him from sliding off the ends of his rope. Randall’s calls for help were heard by park visitors who notified park rangers. Once at the scene, park rangers and Rocky Mountain Rescue group personnel treated Randall and lowered him 200 meters to the ground. Adams, who had been killed by the strike, was then lowered to the ground. (Source: Steve Muelhauser, Ranger, Eldorado Canyon State Park)

Analysis

Perhaps poor judgment was used in continuing to the top of the Naked Edge even though storms were moving into the area. The climbers were from out of state and may not have been familiar with the area’s typical pattern of afternoon thunderstorms. (Source: Steve Muelhauser, Ranger, Eldorado Canyon State Park)