Backcountry/High Country Lightning Safety

Dixie07

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Feb 24, 2012
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Neosho Falls, KS
I am curious what everyone does when a thunderstorm pops up in the backcountry? I have heard different suggestions, and none of them give me a warm and fuzzy. To be honest, this probably scares me more than any bear could.​
 

dotman

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If it is your time well then it is your time. Stay low or head down the mountain.
 

Eagle

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Feb 27, 2012
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Western Kentucky
For the most part, I try and get as far from the highest objects around me as possible and keep the metal (trekking poles mainly) away from me. I've been in some awesome storms well above treeline, but honestly don't worry about it too much.
 

HellsCanyon

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Lewiston ID
Haven't ever really worried about it... Just stay away from trees and keep the metal objects away as well. My main concern is keeping my hunting partner from packing up and heading down the mountain! He's worse than a gunshy dog on the 4th of July...

Mike
 

Curtis C

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Mar 1, 2012
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Colorado Springs, CO
If it is your time well then it is your time. Stay low or head down the mountain.


What he ^^^^^ said. I would still take some precaution like ditching the metal object(poles, Pack if metal framed ETC) and move down the mountain. If it got insane I would find some rock overhang or low bushes to hunker down in.

I was hiking in a rain storm w/lightening in the area last weekend when few people on horseback came by. They ask "arent you worried about the lightening?" I replied "not as much as the drive home".

C
 

sk1

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Mar 28, 2012
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SE Wisconsin
i see some of you guys saying to get away from tall objects like trees.....wouldnt you rather get to a lower slope but stay within the trees? i think i would rather be there than the only standing object out in the open, but i dont have lots of experience with it to be honest
 

dotman

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i see some of you guys saying to get away from tall objects like trees.....wouldnt you rather get to a lower slope but stay within the trees? i think i would rather be there than the only standing object out in the open, but i dont have lots of experience with it to be honest

Not me, in the trees you have more hazards like a tree being struck or trees falling/blow downs etc. Trees are dangerous and I would rather be in a low spot hunkered down. I do agree with leave all metal behind.
 

tstowater

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Apr 26, 2012
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Iowa
I got really nervous one day hunting stone sheep in B.C. when the lightening was striking the mountain below us. I told my guide that the lightening rod (aka gun) I was carrying was not giving me a lot of comfort. We just got a low as we could on the wide open mountain and waited for the storm to pass. Was not a lot of fun. Don't need to do that again. As most of you know, these storms have a way of just popping up without much notice and no real opportunity to get out of the way. The bad part was that the lightening was striking areas that would not have been considered high points.
 

mtmiller

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May 20, 2012
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Montana
Last weekend me and my hunting buddy ran into a little rain and thunderstorms in the MT high county. Not long after this shot, lightning crashed we got down lower and out of the opening in a hurry. Not much more lightning, but enough to spook me.



I used to not worry about lightning, but 14 year ago next week I lost my brother to lightning in the CO high country. It tends to scare the crap out of me since then.
 

Matt Cashell

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Western MT
Man mtmiller,

I am really sorry to hear that, brother.

I will be the first to admit that I have been in some lightning storms that scared the hell out of me. I remember one where I just buried my head in my sleeping bag and hoped for the best.

I agree with dotman on getting to a low spot away from the trees and getting small. That is what I do, and usually where I pitch my shelter.
 

sk1

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Mar 28, 2012
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SE Wisconsin
so does that mean to have a stick ready to swap out with the metal center pole of my SL3 incase of a middle of the night lightning storm? i would have thought being on the low part of the slope in the trees is still lower than being up high so the trees are in essence higher so isnt that the same concept as being low on the open ground vs high on open ground?....other than danger from limbs and deadfalls

mtmiller that's crazy sorry to hear it, all the more reason to take it seriously
 

BuckSnort

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Mar 5, 2012
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Central CA
I don't think you can predict where it will and wont strike..I have seen it hit low spots many times... Having said that I will get off of an open ridge and drop down into cover when it starts...
 

BroodBuster

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May 9, 2012
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Location
Bothell, Wa
Lightning is easily my #1 fear in the backcountry. It even freaks me out at home.

A major part of my scouting trips is to find "bolt holes" to sit out storms. I also try and determine the high risk spots vs. the low risk spots.

Leaving on a hike in a few hours and the forecast is calling out 30% chance of t'storms which of course means I'll be surrounded by lightning most of the weekend :)
 

IAHNTR

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Feb 26, 2012
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Eastern Iowa
I don't know anything about it, but the club that I shoot at is named after one of the club founders that passed from a lightning strike while hunting in CO. Seems like sometimes there is no rhyme or reason where they strike.
 

In God We Trust

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May 2, 2012
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Lakewood, Colorado
I hate it when the lightning starts up and I ma at the top of a peak. First off it is one of the scariest things I have ever encountered in my life and second it means I have to give up all of the elevation I just gained climbing to the top. BB I am with you, my scariest moment was when I awoke to a lightning storm and just laid there praying that God would spare me from a terrible death. It is a real danger in the high country but not the only one. We just have to be educated, prepared, cautious and put the rest in God's hands.
 

T43

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Apr 13, 2012
Messages
259
I had a tree get lit up in front of me last fall. I was never really concerned until that point. I know for a fact lightening can drive 2x4 chunks of corkscrewed spruce a foot into the ground 20 feet from the tree. It wasn't the tallest tree nor the highest up the mountain just the one that got picked. I now ditch all the metal stuff find a depression and curl up with just the balls of my feet touching the ground and I stay away from trees.
 
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