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Lightning, British Columbia, Bugaboo Glacier Provincial Park, Snowpatch Spire


British Columbia, Bugaboo Glacier Provincial Park, Snowpatch Spire

A.B. and B.A. were descending the Kraus-McCarthy rappel route in August when an electrical storm developed. Lightning struck the top of the Spire when they were about four rope lengths down the route. A.B. was rappelling, and part of the charge migrated down the wet crack system of the route. A.B. received a shock and lost consciousness, but his rappel back-up device held him. After he regained consciousness a short time later, the two continued rappelling the route. Luckily, no serious injuries occurred as a result of the ground current.


Lightning storms are a constant threat in the Bugaboos and can quickly form without warning. The crack system of the Kraus-McCarthy route notoriously acts as a terrain lightning funnel, with the crack in the corner of the route wet even on dry days. Fortunately this party was well down below the peak when it was struck, and were rappelling from an exposed position to a safer position off the spire itself. They were thus exposed

to only a small fraction of the current delivered by the strike. This incident is a strong reminder to back up a rappel with a self-arresting device. (Source: Bugaboo Glacier Provincial Park Ranger)