Lightning stories

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

Lightning has struck Half Dome every month of the year – heck it’s an 8,800 ft lighting rod! In my experience it’s August that is the most prone to thunderstorms. When the HOT Central Valley air meets the cold Pacific ocean air – cumulous clouds grow and they dump their stuff after noon. The most famous lightning strike on Half Dome was the July 1985 incident that took the lives of 2 young men. It is well documented in the book “Shattered Air” so I will defer to you to that read. However, there have been a few other strikes on the dome. In September of 1971, a 26-year-old man was descending the cables during an advancing storm. A bolt hit near the cables and bounced him off. He then slid 200 feet down into the rocks near the base of the cables. Luckily he escaped with only broken knees, ankle and wrist. Then in August of 1972, a 19-year old man was killed while hiding in the same cave at the visor as the men described in the above book. Zap. The best preventative is to NOT go up when there is any hint of thunder in area. If you do get caught…. retreat down. Don’t huddle near a tree – you are better in the open, but crouched down in a depression. Holding on to your hiking poles is not a good idea either. Crouch on your pack. Remember, lightning can travel up to 10 miles from the storm cloud.

 Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Lightning’s striking again, Lightning’s striking again and again and again and again.” – Lou Christie

*Mr. Half Dome -Rick Deutsch –


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