Kings Peak-shocked by lightning

Kings Peak-shocked by lightning

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Location Lat/Lon: 40.77650°N / 110.3723°W
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Jul 4, 1987
Kings Peak was my very first 13,000 foot peak I ever climbed. I asked my dad to take me there for my 13th birthday present. My brother who was 11 years old at the time joined us as well.

We made good progress to just below Gunsight Pass, where we made camp. The trail wasn't as good back then and we missed Elkhorn Crossing and actually walked cross country for much of the way.

The next morning we got an early start for the summit. We crossed Gunsight Pass in brilliant sunshine and walked down to Painter Basin. We climbed the east face of Kings to the summit rather than taking the normal Anderson Pass route. The route up was sunny until we summitted. Almost immediatly dark clouds began to gather and thunderstorms could be heard in the distance. Black clouds quickly gathered around and we left the summit after spending only a minute up there. Lightning began to crack and a nasty "thunder blizzard" began. It was snowing hard and our hair stood up on end with loud lightning flashing all around. We were all shocked (not hit) by lightning, but it didn't hurt too much, except for my father who was wearing a metal framed backpack at the time. He threw the backpack to the ground and kicked it down the mountain. When he picked it up, it still had a charge and shocked him. We made it safe down to Painter Basin, but it was still snowing hard. We were soaked to the bone in our garbage-sack "raincoats" and didn't have very good gear. We climbed over Gunsight Pass and crawled into the tent. It was still snowing (after 8 hours) and everything was still really wet. The sun broke out late in the evening and all signs of the storm quickly disappated. We had hung our clothes out to dry.

The next morning was very cold and all our clothes were frozen rather than dry. They were so stiff with ice that we couldn't put them on. We built a fire to thaw them at 5AM and started back to the trailhead.

Even though this trip was over half my lifetime ago, I still remember it well.


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dillweed - May 8, 2006 8:43 pm - Hasn't voted

great memory

great memory - i have never been shocked, but when I was a kid, we also had skimpy equipment - I think it made the experiences more interesting :D

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