A lightning strike at Devil’s Head in Colorado injured a number of climbers, one critically. Afternoon thunderstorms often build in mountain areas during hot weather and many climbers have been injured or killed from strikes in the past.
The Larkspur Fire Department and Douglas County Search and Rescue reported: “At 3:30 p.m. Douglas County Search and Rescue (DCSAR) was paged out to Devil’s Head with Jackson 105, Larkspur Fire, Castle Rock Fire, Forest Service Rangers, and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office for eight climbers and a dog with three adults who had been struck by lightning. The climbing party was located at Chicken Head Ranch climbing area,” DCSAR said on their Twitter profile.
Among the eight climbers, five of them could walk and were treated for minor injuries, two climbers required assistance, one of which was transported to the hospital, the fire department said. The eighth victim suffered critical injuries and had to be carried on a stretcher down the trail and was transported to a nearby hospital in critical condition.
Some of the climbers suffered burns and had tingly sensations. A spokesperson said it’s not clear if the three adults who noted tingling sensations and pain were struck directly. The critically injured woman was transported with medicine, oxygen and advanced life support.
“It was easily the scariest thing that will probably ever happen in my life,” said Sydney Copeland to KDVR. “I think from when it first started precipitating to when we all took shelter and got struck—it was like 10 minutes. The girl behind me—I think she got struck and it traveled through my boyfriend to me. She fell forward and was paralyzed pretty instantly.”
Don’t go climbing if thunderstorms are in the forecast. Seek shelter if you’re caught off guard while climbing. If you’re high on a mountain and the air starts to buzz, hang your hardware from the rock and stand on a rope until it passes.