Hikers Struck by Lightning on Yosemite’s Half Dome

Two hikers were struck by lightning on Yosemite’s iconic Half Dome last week, managing to survive and recount their harrowing experience.

Hikers Jordan Dean and Josh Van Dyk were ascending the famous landmark on September 21 when they found themselves caught in a sudden and severe storm. What came next was a truly terrifying day in Yosemite National Park, as told by the hikers to the San Francisco Chronicle.

As the storm rolled through, the cable section began to become congested with hikers. They would learn later that a woman has slipped off the slick limestone rock during the storm, but managed to hang onto a rock and wait to be rescued. The prospects of getting down the cables seemed to be dismal, so the hikers decided take refuge in a nearby cave, along with other strangers.

@ramiro.agllc September 21, 2023. Half Done in Yosemite is no joke. Safety is a priority but things happen. Thankfully they were able to comunícate with her. #yosemitenationalpark #halfdome #fyp ? original sound – Ramiro Alvarado

Then the lightning started to hit.

Once inside the cave, a lightning bolt hit the rocks they were using for shelter, which subsequently ricocheted to Dean’s knee. Another person was also struck by the bolt in the back of the head. After another bolt filled the cave, the desperate adventures found one of the hikers unconscious.

The hiker was laying on the ground unconscious for about a minute, even with the others attempting to revive him. Eventually, he awoke, but the group was left dazed from the intense bolt.

“We didn’t remember where we were or how we got there,” Van Dyke said to the Chronicle. 

They eventually left the cave, only to face the prospect of descending down the slick rock face. All the hikers on the rock were scared, especially after it was revealed a woman had dangerously slipped just minutes earlier.

Van Dyke later found that his hair was singed where the bolt entered his leg, and found a mark in his sock where it seemingly left. It was a shocking situation for everyone involved.

After a terrifying day on Half Dome, everyone made it down alive, but that’s not always the case. During the summer of 1985, lightning struck Half Dome, leading to the tragic deaths of two individuals and injuring three more. Similarly, in 1972, another life was claimed by a lightning strike on Half Dome. A more recent incident occurred in July 2011 when a woman tragically lost her life during a lightning storm after slipping and falling from the cables.

Yosemite officials have reiterated the dangers of hiking up the iconic rock, emphasizing the unpredictability of mountain weather. They urge hikers to stay clear of the cable section if a clouds are moving overhead or a storm is in the forecast.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California

5 Comments

  1. Half Dome is granite (granodiorite to be precise). It is definitely not limestone.
    Perhaps the author was confused because the hikers had taken shelter in a cave. When we think of caves with stalactites and other formations, we are thinking of limestone caves. But the cave used by the hikers for shelter was probably a talus cave. It is just a small room created by a boulder leaning against the wall of the mountain, or a small cavity eroded out of a fracture in the granite.

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