Caught in a hailstorm 200 meters from the peak

After the hailstorm

A few days ago a group of us were caught in a hailstorm 200 metres from the peak. When we were approaching the summit we aimed to climb clouds came in and covered the peak and rain fell. At this moment we had doubts about going on. Half an hour later the clouds had gone, we could see the summit and so we started for the summit. As we climbed up the conditions were good. There was a strong wind As we got within two-three hundred metres from the top the wind picked up and we could hear lightning several seconds away. At this point, we slowed our climb.

As I looked behind I could see the clouds coming in fast and as I looked the other way I could see the clouds come that way too. By this point the wind was strong and the sky became dark with the clouds we were in. It started to rain and then hail. At first, it was a few very small hailstones but within a minute or two they became large enough to become painful through a cap and a rain jacket hood. We sheltered against rocks to minimise what was exposed to the weather.

The intensity of the hail increased and as I started to feel pain I hitched my hiking bag over my head, shielding as much as I could beneath it. As I did this I looked out and it looked like someone was throwing buckets of hailstones. I could feel my trousers getting drenched and my hands got very cold. The wind shifted and the hailstones started to pummel my back and I stayed sheltered. It was an uncomfortable situation to be in. Water was running from my trousers into my shoes and my feet were soaked.

When the hail started to subside I stood up and we started to head down. I looked up. One person from the group was rushing down and I decided to descend as well for a bit. I couldn’t see the person who was leading the group so I decided to wait. The storm seemed to have passed and I chose to wait. When he came down I blew into my hands vigorously, warming them up again.

Diving in cold lakes I grew used to having cold hands so I did what I always did. I warmed them up again. This was a mild cold. After some dives, I had such cold hands that they hurt so badly that I was close to tears. In this scenario, I was just uncomfortable.

The surface was white with hailstones, as if it had just snowed. The leader did come down, smiling. By this point it was an adventure. The concern we had from being in such a situation became amusement at having experienced extreme weather. It’s the first time that we had been caught in a hail stone after years of hiking in the mountains. I almost always carry my rain equipment when I’m hiking for just such an occurrence but usually, it’s just weight that I carry in case it is required.

 

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