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Tech Tip: Answered Winter Canyoneering Stuff

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by ratagonia, Dec 8, 2015.

  1. digby

    digby

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    Never had an issue. The melting point of aluminum (and lexan) is way higher than 212 but the plastic is not. The lid strap on the Nalgene is not removable.
    With true frostbitten toes, as I'm sure you know, re-warming is only done in the hospital prior to amputating the non-viable toes after demarcation. Your point is well taken about refreezing and why mountaineers don't rewarm on the hill.
  2. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Sounds good in theory. Practically, you might need to rewarm the person if you need to move, etc.

    Had a climbing partner on a long trip get frost bit on the tips of most all of his fingers. He was a prescription glass wearer, and, on summit day, was super cold and windy and he kept taking his hands out of his mitts to wipe his glasses.

    Anyhoo...his fingers were bad enough that his fine motor skills involving anything to do with his fingers were pretty useless. We were fairly high on a peak, so, took us another 8 days to get down. Didn't really have an option to keep them from warming up. Fingers blistered pretty badly and got swollen and purple...but, in the end, he didn't lose any digits.

    Another reason to carry a 1 liter nalgene is to use as a pee bottle. Hmmmm....warm liquid....(and no getting out of a bag to get cold).
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  3. RyanGJ

    RyanGJ

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    Thats wilderness medicine, the more remote we get the greater the difficulty in applying best practice when something happens. Still basic principles can guide our decision making. Thats why I enjoyed Tom starting this thread.

    Sounds like in this case you did not actively warm the fingers (by applying external heat) but rather they warmed passively through his body own body movements. This means he had enough internal heat to warm his fingers, which is a good thing. You would not want to "prevent" passive warming by purposely keeping his fingers cold. You just want to avoid active rewarming such as putting the hand in warm water. In a case such as the one you presented you can still attempt to apply the principles of keeping them from refreezing as vigilantly as possible, keep those mitts on!

    If the individual is hypothermic then warming them takes the priority over the potential damage to the digits. Don't delay warming the person!

    I second the essential pee bottle! You know winter camping when you happily cuddle up with your own pee. Make sure to make the bottle tactile so you don't grab the wrong one in the dark!
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  4. wsbpress

    wsbpress

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    So, my understanding of hypothermia is that there are multiple stages of severity: Mild, Moderate, and Severe. There is a lot of first aid literature which recommends adding external heat sources to the torso, armpits, and groin as one potential activity in the treatment protocol for moderate hypothermia. You are saying (in all caps even) that this is not correct? I really don't have much experience with treating hypothermia so I can only go off what I have read and what I've been taught. I'll need more sources of this contrarian information before I am personally swayed.
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  5. wsbpress

    wsbpress

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    Another thing I learned when I studied hypothermia treatment is that it isn't always straightforward and simple. There are these decision trees where you take different actions depending on various factors. It seems to get more complex as the severity of the hypothermia increases.

    In comparison, hypothermia prevention is simple. So I typically double-down on preventative measures.
  6. Ram

    Ram

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    East Ridge of Logan? And then on to the summit?
  7. Ram

    Ram

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    My one bivy..... Psychological Damage (Before it was named. Named for that night). Mild rain on an April night. NOTHING like that long Heineman night. Minor league stuff compared to that. One space blanket, 4 people. Time gets so funny-slow. One person with a watch. EVERYONE wanting to know what time it was. NO ONE asking. Kinda rude to ask, or so it felt. Bring your own watch, if ya wanna know. Silence for hours. Or was it forever? Then the person breaks the silence..."10:35 (PM)" Four syllables. NO ONE comments. EVERYONE was grateful to be told without asking. More silence. Group pee at 11:35. Man it is cold once you stop the collective cuddle. An enlightenment I will NEVER forget. Rains hard. Time to suspend from the flexing flake above the soon to arrive flow....and so it goes.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2015
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  8. Ram

    Ram

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    The micros are so easy to take on and off, it is just lazy not to do it several times a day, as needed. Have a conscious please. Exception? Those paved places coming outta the canyon in Zion
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  9. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Post summit...on the descent. Long trip...glad to git er done!
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  10. Ram

    Ram

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    Hijacked thread....apologies....Lotsa talented folk climb the east ridge of Logen...OK, maybe not a lot. A LOT less go all the way across that high desolate plateau to the summit. Indulge us with a picture or two? A Fine effort. Kudos.
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  11. RyanGJ

    RyanGJ

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    You bring up a great point here. Its not so much as contrarian information as it is terminology. I am using the word treatment to mean definitive treatment.

    Hypothermia, like many things in medicine, is a continuum rather than an individual symptom or state. As you stated this is often defined as mild, moderate, severe. The practical side is that if your cold you’re only going to get colder unless an intervention is done.

    Using hot water bottles would be an intervention to help prevent further body heat loss. Mild hypothermia is someone who is able to shiver still has the ability to use their muscles to produce heat. Adding external heart sources can aid this process, but it is the shivering that has the most profound effect.

    If that person has now progressed down the continuum and stopped shivering hot water bottles simply will not increase their internal core body temperature. True treatment can only be provided in a hospital at this point.

    The main take away is that you cannot rewarm a severely hypothermic patient in the backcountry. It fact it would be very, very difficult to adequately rewarm even a moderately hypothermic patient while still in the backcountry, especially in a winter canyon environment. Add in trauma and it can become impossible.

    In this sense of the word you cannot “treat” advanced forms of hypothermia in the backcountry. However you can provide interventions to help the patient maintain as much core body temperature as possible and prevent them from moving further down the continuum. Therefore it is often said that “treatment” consists of anything you can do to provide external sources of warmth. Warm bottles, heat packs, sleeping bags, body to body heat are all interventions that should be done for the hypothermic patient, but ultimately the patient will need to be evacuated from the backcountry for definitive treatment.

    I did not mean to imply that these items are not important aspects of hypothermia management, just that it is important to understand there limits.

    This is why the safety margin is so thin in the winter. Recognizing hypothermia early and intervening aggressively is vital in an emergency, once you go down that cold, cold rabbit hole it is very difficult to climb back out.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2015
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  12. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Very good clarifying post, Ryan. Thanks.

    :moses:
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  13. wsbpress

    wsbpress

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    Yes, definitely. Thanks.
  14. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Got tons of slides...no slide scanner...heavy sigh... On summit day I think I managed one pic. A crappy shot of my partner. Weather was cold and windy.

    Here's one from the final summit ridge that one of my partners posted on FB:

    Logan summit ridge.

    That's me in the red below. We were a party of 5. All still friends...ha ha.

    AAJ article:

    Mount Logan, East Ridge. By May 12 Brian Cabe, Steve Mock, Ed Rosette, Ed Sondeno, Chuck Swenson, and Gigi Swenson were all assembled at Base Camp at 2380 meters between the Hubsew and East ridges. Our original goal was to make the third ascent of Logan's Hubsew Ridge and the first ascent of Hubsew Peak en route. Concern over snow conditions on the side of Hubsew Ridge caused us to switch to our backup, the East Ridge, with plans to try Hubsew Peak on our return. Steve unfortunately contracted the flu and flew back out on May 14, leaving the five of us to continue the route. We moved to Cl at 2680 meters on the East Ridge that day. Over the next 10 days we continued up to C5 at 4625 meters, reaching it on May 24 in degenerating weather. Our party became separated in the ensuing blizzard with Chuck, Gigi and I shoveling nearly nonstop for seven days at C5 without knowing Brian and Ed Rosette were just 500 feet below us in a snow-cave after they lost their tent. We had one of our two tents go down at C5 during the storm as well. By no small miracle, our team was reunited on May 30 when the storm finally broke, and we moved to C6 at 5100 meters the same day. A Calgary team had descended for lack of supplies as had another team on the route, and Brian and Ed Rosette had been without food for the previous four days. After a rest day, we left for the summit in poor visibility. Going was slow and we waited over an hour at one point in the minus 10°F temps, nearly returning to camp, before being able to continue above the clouds. With improving visibility, we crossed the southeast shoulder of the East Summit and completed the seemingly interminable summit ridge to Logan's main summit by 8 p.m. that evening. A couple members sustained limited frostbite by the time we began our descent. We returned to the warmth of our sleeping bags 22 hours after rising, very tired but pleased. Strong winds, ground blizzard and much new snow hampered our descent over the next week. We seemed to be the only remaining party on the east side of Logan. Recovering our caches required determined shoveling, but we found Base Camp on June 8, recovered much-needed skis and supplies in the two to four feet of new snow, and flew out the next day.

    I. Edward Sondeno, Dirty Socks Club
  15. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    I did not review the whole thread, but one point I want to emphasize is the choice of canyon.

    Pretty much, best to only do canyons you have done before in winter, so you know what to expect. After a few winter trips, you learn HOW canyons are different in winter, and can make better choices as to what is appropriate and (relatively) safe.

    Tom

    ps., and "bump"
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  16. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    To Tom's great comments above-
    Just Did Behunin yesterday. We were really nervous about what conditions we would find in the canyon, and had a serious debate
    at the drop in about whether to continue.
    All snow from the previous storm had melted, and flowed into the canyon.
    Behunin was probably as full as it gets. Fortunately we were able to avoid most of the water, except for some shin deep wading.
    IF there was snow/ice present on the ledges, then the bypasses, alternate anchors, and fancy bouldering around the water that we used could have
    been impossible and full wetsuits/drysuits would be needed.
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  17. Ram

    Ram

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    After a warm November, some of the dangers of winter Behunin might not reveal themselves...here is what I have learned of the place's scary potential....

    When the entry is snow covered, it acts as a natural barrier to people who might get in trouble. This is a good thing. 30 degree slickrock covered in snow likely has to be rappelled, bush to bush. Most will chose not to do this. There is also that rap part way in, AFTER the opening rap sequence where sliclrock borders the drop. This too, is a dangerous spot. A fella fell and died not that long ago when it was not winter.

    But the truly insidious spot is the opening sequence. There is natural seeps there and some of us have experienced the water flowing down the rope, to our guide hand, down our arm and....onto our necks! BRRRRR! But this is just discomfort. The upper raps face east and get that morning sun....but as you drop down to the next to last rap, the angle goes lower in the canyon and into the shade. If the temps are near freezing or below, ice will form ON the rope, expanding its diameter and reducing its pliability. Quite unnerving. But its not done with you yet. At the bottom of the penultimate rap and all of the bottom rap, the rope, in the conditions listed above LOVES to adhere itself to the wall and quickly becomes very hard to separate it from said wall, as it quickly tries to encase itself to the wall....a lot like fun...but different :joyful:.
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  18. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Thank you for the benefit of your experience, Ram :twothumbs:
    We were eager to 'squeeze in' a little more Zion canyon fun before the snow flies.
    Beautiful Zion and it's canyons will be here all winter.
    But for us, the fun, less so!
    :)

    ...maybe time to rap off some piles of rocks ...
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  19. Scott Byington

    Scott Byington

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    RIMG3629.JPG
    1. Wool beanie/balaclava*
    2. Wool gloves*
    3. Wool long sleeve top (mid-weight), pants (mid-weight)*
    4. Wool socks*
    5. SOL Escape bivvy*
    6. Fleece (mid-layer weight) or down jacket (Rab microlight)*
    7. Emergency Mylar sleeping bag (works great to block wind/rain and reflect a small fire’s heat back at you)
    8. Fire starter (Morakniv Bushcraft)
    9. Duct tape
    10. Klymit insulated static V lite (only on canyons greater than 5hrs)*
    11. REI travel down sleeping bag (only on canyons greater than 5hrs)*
    12. *compressible dry bag
    If snow or recent rain, I’ll add the following items:
    1. Neoprene socks
    2. 50 ft. paracord
    3. canyon selection (paramount)
    4. group skill and composition
    As for functionality, from my own personal experience when you are wet and cold your congnative skills don’t function as they should, the simpliest of tasks become difficult because you’ve lost your dexterity and you need to keep a clear head so panic doesn’t set in.
    I recommend a positive mental attitude and a partner you can trust, especially if you have to snuggle.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016
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  20. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Thanks.

    What is the paracord for?

    Tom
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