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Climber escapes lightning strike

13 July 09 13:41 GMT

Advice for hillwalkers and climbers on what to do in a thunderstorm has been issued by a mountaineering group after its safety officer's own close call.

Lightning struck rock 20m above Heather Morning and a friend as they were climbing the west face of Stac Pollaidh in Wester Ross.

The pair were also drenched by heavy rain and centimetre chunks of hail.

Perth-based Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCoS) has posted the safety information on its website.

It was prompted by a call from a hillwalker seeking help on what to do in a storm, but also comes just days after recent spells of thunder and lightning and Ms Morning's experience on Stac Pollaidh.

'Massive downpour'

The localised storm in the north west Highlands was witnessed by walkers enjoying fine weather on another peak nearby.

Ms Morning said: "We were doing a multi-pitch climb on the west face of Stac Pollaidh when we got caught out in a serious thunderstorm.

"We were at the top pitch and felt really vulnerable. There was a massive downpour that soaked us to the skin and it was raining centimetre-sized hailstones. There was also a drop in the temperature.

"Twenty metres above us there was a lightning strike. The rock face was crackling with electricity.

"If we had been any higher there was a chance we would have been hit by the lightning."

A climber of 40 years experience, Ms Morning said she had encountered violent storms in the US but not of such a scale in the UK.

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