Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 30, 2010 - 09:09pm PT
I want to sincerly thank all of the well wishers out there for the positive thoughts this past July. I am only one of 17 who were on the mountain that day, and I can only write on my behalf.
Special warning... most details of my life starting july 21 are a little fuzzy.
The 20th we went to get our permit from the rangers station. the weather report said 20% chance of rain until late afternoon and evening when the chance went up to 80%. We asked the ranger how 20% fairs in the Tetons and he said there was a 20% chance of storms the entire month and it has been sunny skys the whole time. No negativity or warning in his voice. "Sweet", we though "we will be down(at the lower saddle) by 11am, noon at the latest, and we will be fine!" We changed our plans from climbing the entire Exum to doing the lower OS and upper exum in order to ensure we had enough time.
21st... we were up on time and without delay, I think it was somewhere around 5am. We had two groups of 2 and it turns out that though I was not the least experienced I was obviously the slowest. the first light arrived around the horizontal black dike, there were some passing clouds but nothing I hadn't seem before. Great time up the lower OS and into the upper exum, some darker clouds to the south and a bit east. 'plenty of time to finish, they will miss us to the south'
With less than 30 min to the summit there was a small band of clouds approaching, thin with sun behind, we were high on the ridge so we put on our rain gear and waited, a little bit of grapple and on we went. 15ish min later there was another band in the distance, it looked the same. This time we were the first group crossing a rock/snow ridge. It was exposed so we hurried across, in the process we felt electricity moving up and down our spines. All the metal gear started to vibrate. We finished the ridge and threw all of our metal around 'the corner of the mountain'. The second grew joined us and them it started.
10:30 am, 100ft below the summit:
strike 1: really bad for one, he recovered quickly
Strike 2-?: scared the sh#t out of all of us, but we were ok
Strikes 4&5? or 5&6 (lost count)?: Hell on earth, boiling oil flowing through your veins. paralysis through out, "though I can't be parylized right? I feel way too much pain!" Unable to move my body for 45 min then slowly but surely I could move my toes, then my leg and so on. The use of my arms didn't return until after surgery.
One friend went for help while I lay on the snow screaming. There were three left. One a trained AMGA guide, he saved our lives. Pitch by pitch, lowering the two of us, using improv anchors. Finally the rapel station, and Helen. Oh how we loved Helen the SAR angel.
One heli...two heli...valley floor, ambulance ride - pain no more!
Over 85 people had something to do with getting us down that day, it was over 10 hours from first strike to hospital. I sustained multiple 'full thickness' burns and lost a finger. Not to mention my kidneys overwhelmed with the amount of toxins in my blood and the word 'Dialysis' came up multiple times. Everyone had this issue to some degree. Our rescuer was admitted it ICU with so much air around his heart it was only beating 37 times a min. The third, multiple burns (full thickness too). And the one who went for help was discharged the same night.
I'd like to think we did everything right, though I am sure we did not. With all of this said... Donini you are right MOST storms are in the afternoon. The other guy...you are very right... try to be off by 9am. Most importantly it is the spirit of climbing that draws us all out there, it is also the brotherhood that brings us together and in which we risk our lives to save others. I have been rescued... and I am eternally greatful.