14May2013

How to: Handle 3 Potential Mountain Climbing Emergencies

The risk of dying in a traffic accident is 10 times greater than the risk of death during a climb. However, as more and more amateurs try to take on some of the world’s most challenging peaks, injuries and deaths related to mountaineering are on the rise. For this reason, anyone attempting a climb should consider renting a satellite phone. Also, climbers of any experience level should be prepared and know how to handle these three potential mountain climbing emergencies.

Potential Mountain Climbing Emergencies:

How to Handle 3 Potential Mountain Climbing Emergencies1. Injury or Illness

These tips will help you to prevent illness and injury, and to deal with them should anything happen:

  • Know yourself. The best way to avoid injury and illness while climbing is to be honest about your health and fitness levels before starting. Avoid attempting a peak you aren’t fit enough to handle.
  • Pace yourself. Climb slowly for the first half hour or so to give your muscles a chance to warm up. Make sure to rest every two to three hours. Eat light, carbohydrate-rich snacks, and drink a lot of water — treated water, that is. Skip alcohol, caffeine and other diuretics until you’ve finished your climb for the day.
  • Bring the appropriate equipment and know how to use it. In addition to good climbing equipment, bring food and drink, spare clothing, sunglasses, a cap or hat and a first aid kit for any basic climbing trip. Bring a book or a smartphone app with first-aid information.
  • Stop climbing if you don’t feel well. The safest assumption to make is that your illness is due to altitude until you can prove otherwise. Watch out for dizziness, headache, nausea or loss of appetite. If you have a rapid pulse or feel short of breath, then descend to a lower altitude as quickly and safely as possible.
  • Try not to leave an injured or ill person alone. If you’re climbing alone or as part of a pair, then you may not have a choice if one of you needs to go for help. If you’re in a larger group, make sure that someone stays behind with a person who is injured. In a multicultural group, try to leave the injured person with someone who speaks the same language.

2. Dangerous WeatherHow to Handle 3 Potential Mountain Climbing Emergencies

  • Prevent weather mishaps by checking the forecast before you go. On some major peaks, the mountain can seem to make its own weather, and no one can predict what will happen.
  • If you have a satellite phone, then you can find free weather forecasts online.
  • If you’re caught in a storm, avoid sheltering under an overhang or in a cave.
  • Keep a compass with you so that you can find your way if you have limited visibility.
  • Do your best to descend from summits and ridges so that you aren’t exposed to the elements.
  • Use a via ferratas, some high trees or power line poles so that you can find your way down.
  • Be aware that you can also get a false sense of security when you’re climbing with a group.
  • In a sudden storm, you could quickly find yourself isolated, and the size of your group won’t matter.

3. Getting Lost

  • How to Handle 3 Potential Mountain Climbing EmergenciesClosely follow your map or use GPS navigation, and register your climb before you depart. At the very least, tell your friends or family members where you’re going, what route you’re taking and when you expect to return.
  • Keep some kind of communication device with you, like a phone, a two-way radio or a whistle that you can blow if you’re in trouble.
  • Write down the phone numbers of local rescue services before you leave.
  • If you do find yourself lost, then stay put. Call for help and then don’t move; you may have to wait a while for volunteers to assemble, but someone will come out to rescue you.
  • If you see a landmark close by, then you can consider bushwhacking over to that area and then calling for help.
  • Have some kind of glow stick or chemical light with you so that you’re easy to spot in the dark.
  • Stay in an open area and, if you have something brightly colored, then lay it on the ground so that rescuers can spot it from above.

Author: Horbet Pruitt

Edited by: The CampTrip Team

About the Author: Hobert Pruitt works for www.globalsatellitecommunications.com, a leading satellite-phone provider. You can follow him on Google Plus here.

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