Lightning Strike Kills Dog, Injures Hikers On Colorado 14er

Lightning in Colorado must be taken seriously, especially in the high country. A recent incident is a scary reminder.

A hiker high on Mount Bierstadt on a clear day; photo by Sean McCoy
A hiker high on Mount Bierstadt on a clear day; photo by Sean McCoy

The high peaks of the state are belted by storms through the summer, leading to the third highest incidents of lighting related deaths in the country.

On Sunday, as many as 16 people were affected by a lightning strike on Mount Bierstadt, according to initial reports. Bierstadt is one of the most popular and easiest 14,000-foot peaks in the state.

Eight people were transported by medical personnel from the trailhead. Three people were taken to a local hospital with injuries, one with serious injuries.

A dog was killed in the strike, which happened about 500 feet below the summit.

According to a Denver Post report, more than 100 people were on the mountain when the strike occurred.

Lightning is very common on Colorado’s high peaks, but most storms roll in during the early afternoon. This strike this past weekend happened at about 11:30 a.m.

Related: Mandatory Gear For 14ers

It is important to be aware of lightning risks, especially as more inexperienced hikers attempt “easy” peaks like Bierstadt.

According to a report by Colorado Public Radio, a good rule of thumb is this motto: “If you can see it, flee it. If you can hear it, clear it.”

Get off high ground at the first sign of lightning or thunder and be sure to start climbs up high peaks early enough to be back to low ground by early afternoon at the latest.

Stay safe out there.

 

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By
Editor-in-Chief Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.
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