Two Women Struck By Lightning After Summiting Wales’ Highest Mountain

by Amy Myers

One of the worst places you could be during a lightning storm is on top of a mountain–let alone the tallest mountain in the nation. Unfortunately for these two women, Wales’ highest mountain, Snowdon, didn’t offer a lot of shelter from the impending storm. When they reached the 3,560-foot summit yesterday, they probably were too excited about their accomplishment to realize their lives were in danger. Thankfully, despite the lightning strike, medical officials report that the women will make a full recovery.

Most Outsiders know that it is imperative to check the weather before embarking on an outdoor adventure. Unexpected storms of any kind can turn a day on the water or a hike through the mountains into an emergency situation. Keeping an eye on that weather app can help make sure you’re not in the wrong place at the wrong time, like these two hikers.

After the group summitted Snowdon at roughly 1:30 p.m. BST, a celebratory moment turned into a critical one. Somehow, though, the lightning only managed to strike the two women in the group of five people. Luckily, the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team arrived shortly after to evacuate the hikers to safety. Upon arrival, the medical team reported that one hiker “was falling in and out of consciousness” while the other only sustained minor injuries.

One Twitter user claimed that he was there when the incident occurred.

“Was up there at this exact time this happened, the lightning was 10ft away from me and my group and we watched as the helicopter came to rescue. The storm started out of nowhere, starting with light rain, to heavy rain, to hail (very big hail)& heavy wind.”

Lightning Storm Survivors Transported Off The Mountain

Besides becoming the main target for lightning strikes, the other major reason you don’t want to be on top of a mountain during a storm is more because of the rescue efforts. At over 3,500-feet up a steep, rocky slope, the climb to the top is already a bit treacherous. Evacuating two people all the way back down the mountain is not only difficult but also time-consuming. With no road or area for a helicopter to land, you’re at the mercy of the mountain, climbing back down. According to rescue coordinator, Phil Benbow, the coast guard and Snowdon Mountain Railway had to help the medical team ferry people and equipment up the mountain.

Had the hikers’ injuries been any worse, their story might have had a more tragic ending.

“They were very lucky,” Benbow said. “But the advice generally is don’t be on the top of a mountain when thunder and lightning is about. Our advice is when thunderstorms are forecast people should avoid mountain tops, exposed ridges and open flat areas because that is where lightning is most likely to strike.”