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Lightning Strike, Weather, British Columbia, Selkirk Mountains, Mount Sir Donald

LIGHTNING STRIKE, WEATHER

British Columbia, Selkirk Mountains, Mount Sir Donald

On August 7, 1991, a party of seven wardens were at the 3050 meter level on a training climb of the Northwest Ridge of Sir Donald, accompanied by two others who had attached themselves to the group. They decided to descend because of shortage of time and party strength. Although it was mainly sunny, the sky was partly overcast and dark thunderheads had been observed to the north through most of the morning. Similarly, a lesser amount of dark cloud was seen stalled to the south. Shortly after 1300, as the third party member set up for a rappel, a small dark cloud passed over, and lightning struck the mountain face and the ridge. The person at the rappel station was slightly under a small overhang with her hands on the rock; part of the discharge passed through her shoulder and the second finger of her left hand. She was lowered through two more pitches; by that time the sky had cleared, and the party was in a location where a helicopter flight rescue system (HFRS) could be used. A sling rescue was organized and the victim removed to the hospital in Revelstoke, where she was found to have a small burn but no permanent damage. (Source: Revelstoke/Glacier National Park Warden Service)

Analysis

This was a large party moving slowly on a steep mountain ridge. It was a training climb and so safety was being emphasized. The party leader had been watching the sky for signs that the threatening weather nearby was moving, but indications were that it was stable. Because he was below the ridge, he could not see the approaching squall, which was over in less than 20 minutes. (Source: Revelstoke/Glacier National Park Warden Service)