FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Hikers in Yosemite National Park found out firsthand how dangerous the high peak of Half Dome can be when a storm rolled through – forcing them to shelter in a cave to avoid the bolts of lightning shooting down from the sky.
Despite taking cover, the hikers say they still received shocks from the lightning storm.
For Jordan Dean and his girlfriend Jordan Swendener, Thursday, September 21 was the day they were both finally getting to climb Half Dome. They had traveled to Yosemite National Park from Wyoming to tackle Half Dome.
“It was really pretty clear skies most of the day as we’re getting higher up, maybe you did see some clouds, but nothing to be alarmed about,” said Dean.
They took photos and videos on their way up Half Dome, but say a memorable trip turned into a dangerous one at the top of the mountain.
“We took a few pictures. We’re just going to be up there for a few minutes or like, you know, it’s time to start heading back down. But by this point, everybody was heading down” Dean continued.
When the storm rolled in, they had to take shelter in a nearby cave. They thought they were safe until they saw a white flash of lightning come through the cave.
“I felt it like maybe like a house voltage or a pretty strong household’s edge through the rock that my name is touching. And it felt like somebody, like, punched it really hard. And another guy commented that it hit the back of his head,” said Dean.
“And then, like, I felt it go from his knee into my knee and felt it go out my toes,” said Swendener.
A person who also took shelter inside the cave collapsed just moments later.
“I mean, he’s like, shaking. I’m shaking like, buddy, wake up, wake up. And you just like, was so unresponsive. And he was like trying to find a pulse and like, he couldn’t and so he just started punching him in the chest,” said Swendener.
After several minutes of CPR the man woke up – but did not know where he was.
“He didn’t remember anything,” Swendener continued.
After the man recovered, the group waited out the storm and then began to climb down. They were surprised to see a rescue helicopter in the air. Witnesses say the rescue team was saving a woman who had slid down the side of the mountain.
They continued on and everyone made it down safely.
The couple say they would likely return to Yosemite National Park, but likely not hike Half Dome again after this frightening experience.
Footage of the storm on Half Dome courtesy of Jordan Dean/Ramiro Alvarado.