Fifteen people were injured, and one dog was killed, after a lightning strike on 14,065-foot Mount Bierstadt, a popular 14er that lies 45 miles southwest of Denver, Colorado. The strike occurred at 11:30 a.m., which is early in the day for cloud-to-ground lightning strikes, but not unheard of. According to the Denver Post, as many as 100 people were on the three-mile trail that ascends 2,400 feet from the parking lot on Guanella Pass. The mountain is extremely popular in the summer because of its short, walking approach and its proximity to Denver.
As a general rule of thumb, hikers try to be off the summits of the rockies by noon. But Denver and the Colorado Front Range have been experiencing severe thunderstorms for the last four days that have produced serious flooding. In July 2010, a group of 17 people were struck by lightning on Wyoming’s Grand Teton. That storm also struck early, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
By 5:30 p.m., all of the injured had been evacuated or walked back to their cars.