Near death on the Kelso Ridge

Near death on the Kelso Ridge

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Aug 26, 2014
Activities Activities: Mountaineering, Scrambling

Near death on the Kelso Ridge

After watching videos and people telling me how kelso ridge is easy and good for beginners I wanted to give my g/f madam X (in case she doesn't want me to use her name. a fun adventure. People made it seem very easy and not as exposed as it was. We started the trail at 5:30am and were having a good time. The beginning of the ridge was good. I lost some of the trail for a moment and there was some ground but everything was ok. I knew she was afraid of heights, but I am too. I'm pretty good with some exposure on mountains. I've been training and stepping up my game. She wasn't. She made it fine up the first real scramble. She wasn't sure of herself but she's brave and kept moving on. After the 2nd one we knew she wouldn't go back and she started having small panic attacks. It was to much for her. I felt and still feel terrible. It looked like we were still way farther then we were but we were going at a slow pace. I didn't want to see anything bad happen to her and called 911. Seeing if we could get helicopter rescued. Sadly I believe my AAC membership might have expired. Everyone we talked to said we either had to go back or finish it. We knew the weather was going to get bad. We thought we were going to be a lot of faster. We kept pushing on. Every scramble I was inches behind to protect her. Putting myself at more risk but I didn't care. Then it started snowing. We scrambled over exposed areas on wet rock. It was getting dangerous. I wanted to get her home so bad. Right before we got to the area before the knife edge we heard a weird sound from a rock. It sounded electronic. We knew this wasn't good. We got to a flat area at at 14,000ft and i scrambled up to see the best way to get on the knife edge.  When I was going up I was surrounded by a very loud static sound. We were surrounded by it. Then I felt a weird burning on my shoulder blade. It was about an inch wide. I scratched at it knowing it wasn't good. Some people have said I might have been buzzed. I turned and she said her glasses were vibrating. We both said get down and she laid on the ground staying lower then the rocks and I laid over her trying to protect her. Thunder and lightning and snow lasted what felt like forever as we were scared that we would never make it. We kept calling and trying to get help. They kept saying the same thing. She was physically and mentally drained. I hated myself for it. I never wanted or expected this to happen. It started snowing harder.  It eventually cleared. We both got very very cold. Another storm was on the way. I was hellbent on getting her home. At this point she had multiple panic attacks and couldn't move. We had to keep going. We were 200 feet south of the summit and still had the knife edge and the white rock. I grabbed her bag and put it in mine and motivated her. We got up to the knife edge and we inched over. I was so proud of her and I got below her next to the white rock. I had terrible footing but helped her get around. Te rest of the trail was steep and loose dirt unlike I was expecting. The rescuers said it would be an easy walk. We crawled up a lot. We were both exhausted from what had happen. We finally summited. Took a pic of her. I was proud of her. She was brave and was pushed way out of her comfort zone. She made it. She deff climbed that mountain. Once we got to the summit the weather got bad again. I was worried about being exposed on the grays and torreys saddle. I gave her both my trekking poles and we moved nonstop. We met rescuers at the top of the saddle. We moved at a good pace in the rain. It poured the whole way back as we pretty much walked in a stream. My legs were soaked and I was freezing by the time we got to the trailhead. She kept tough and didn't stop. Her parents were there and I can't imagine how happy she was. They were awesome and let me wear some warm dry clothes too and gave me a ride. After I had to talk to the sheriff. One of the rescuers told me after that they rescue 2 people off that route per week and how people sandbag certain mountain routes. I had no idea that mountain or route could be that dangerous. If I knew I never would of brought her on it. She just wanted a fun hike and we almost died and put us at tremendous danger. I was freaking buzzed by lightning or at least an electric charge. I don't think I'll ever be able to apologize enough. I'm deff making sure friends are ready before bringing them on harder routes. I was fine on it and if I was alone I would of had a blast. The scrambling and the knife edge was fun. It ended up taking us 13hrs round trip. What I can do doesn't mean everybody can and not putting myself and others in danger again like that. When we got back I broke my 2 months meat free at least for a night ha. That was a better night then any to do that ha. I hope she can forgive me. She's a great hiking partner and a special person to me. Now that we made it back ok it's a hell of a story now.

I'm sure I'll get a lot of crap from this but it was a hard lesson learned.


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Viewing: 1-4 of 4

JoelSkok - Sep 18, 2015 8:32 pm - Voted 10/10

Electric charge?

Sometimes these charges can leave welds on rock, called fulgurites. They particularly abound on tall peaks with plenty of local prominence--kind of like a lightning rod. I agree, such scary events leave the wrong impression on an invited guest. But you both survived and that is the main thing. Climb on!


xDoogiex - Sep 18, 2015 11:30 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Electric charge?

Looked those up. They look awesome. I've been single since that incident but mountain wise I tried to come back as strong as I could (besides work and work problems making it hard to get out ha)

chugach mtn boy

chugach mtn boy - Sep 19, 2015 11:06 am - Hasn't voted

Narrowly missed

I've been in the same kind of electric charge and then narrowly missed by lightning moments after I left the area. You need to read up on what to do--On a rocky mountain, definitely don't "lie down" to make yourself a little lower--that just makes you more likely to be killed or permanently injured by ground currents if there is a strike. If you can't get away, you have to strive for a single point of contact to the ground--squatting with your feet together is good, with hands not touching any rock.


xDoogiex - Sep 19, 2015 12:43 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Narrowly missed

Thanks for the info. I've always been very good about staying away from lightning danger. That climb took wayyyyy longer then expected

Viewing: 1-4 of 4