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Lightning

Around 1130 on August 5, Ranger Janet Wilts and Chris Goodhue were struck by lightning at the top of the Friction Pitch of the Exum Ridge on the Grand Teton. (Jan Cauthorn Page, the third member of the team, was not struck.) Wilts reported that the lightning entered her right elbow, traveled down her arm, and exited her right thumb and forefinger, with accompanying numbness, tingling, and weakness. Goodhue reported that the lightning entered her buttocks, traveled down her right leg, and exited her middle toe, leaving a small exit wound, with accompanying numbness, tingling, and weakness. Wilts reported that she felt the party would be able to traverse off the mountain once the storm had passed, and spoke with Ranger Tom Kimbrough, who was in the vicinity of the Eye of the Needle with two climbing partners.

Kimbrough began ascending toward the Upper Saddle to assist Wilts, while medical control was contacted. The decision was made to have them traverse off the mountain as soon as possible, descend to the Lower Saddle, and be transported to Lupine Meadows by helicopter.

About 1545, Wilts, Kimbrough, and parties, arrived at the Lower Saddle. The contract helicopter, with heli-tack personnel S. Markason (USFS), was diverted from an ongoing rescue on Teewinot Mountain to pick up Wilts and Goodhue. They arrived Lupine Meadows at 1615 where they self transported to Saint John’s Hospital for medical evaluation. (Source: George Montopoli, SAR Ranger)

[Editor's Note: While lightning is not uncommon in this range, it is less common in the mornings. The Exum Ridge is a particularly exposed place. Many climbers have experienced hits and near misses from lightning while descending the Owen-Spalding.]