Tag Archives: equipment reviews

Climb Glacier Education Series: Preventing Sun Damage (Part II)

EducationNo matter where you climb protection of the skin is crucial. Consider the following recommendations to protect your skin.

Avoid the sun during high-intensity hours.

The sun’s rays are most damaging from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reduce the time you spend outdoors during these hours. This is not usually feasible while out climbing or mountaineering.

Cover as much of your skin with clothing as possible.

Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and wide-brimmed hats will offer a significant amount of protection especially if the clothing contains SPF fabric such as those made by Outdoor Research.

Apply Sunscreen Before Going Outdoors

Up to 30 minutes before going outdoors apply SPF 15 or better with a broad spectrum of protection against both UV-A and UV-B rays.

For children use SPF 30 or higher.

Use a sunblock on your lips.

Choose a product that has been specially formulated for the lips, with a sun protection factor of 20 or more. Follow the direction on the sunscreen container for additional applications.

Remember that certain medications and skin care products can increase the skin’s risk of UV damage. Consult with your prescribing physician to determine if you need to take additional special precautions against sun damage.

Protect Your Eyes

When considering protecting your eyes the concern is with UVB light. In high intensities of UVB light is hazardous to the eye and severe exposure can lead to serious eye conditions.

Choosing between glass or plastic needs to be carefully considered.

With this in mind, consider that even untreated eyeglasses offer some protection. However, most plastic lenses provide better protection than glass lenses, due to glass being transparent and plastic lenses are less transparent. Polycarbonate lens block most UV rays. No matter which lens you choose to use make sure that adequate protection is provided on the sides of the eye.

Mountaineers are exposed to higher than ordinary levels of UV radiation, both because there is less atmospheric filtering and because of reflection from snow and ice.

Protective eyewear will prove beneficial reduce exposure to ultraviolet radiation, particularly short wave UV. Full coverage eye protection from the side is crucial to ensure adequate protection for the side when there is an elevated risk of exposure such as climbing at high altitude.


To prevent snowblindness always wear goggles or sunglasses. It is possible to make protective eyewear by cutting two small slits in a piece of cloth and then looking through the slits after fastening them around the head.

Snowblindness is caused by burning the cornea of the eye by UVB rays. It typically occurs at high altitudes on reflective snowfields. Headaches, gritty or burning eyes, halos around light, sensitivity to light excessive tearing and temporary loss of vision are the typical symptoms of snowblindness.

To treat this condition consider the following recommendations: cover both of the victims eyes with bandages and control pain with painkillers and a cool compress. Oftentimes within 18 hours the vision will restore without further medical help. Typically the surface of the cornea regenerates within 24 to 48 hours. If difficulties continue seek medical help as soon as possible.

Hopefully you have gained a bit of knowledge about protecting the skin and eyes from damage to sun. If you have any doubts about a patch of skin that looks different please get it checked out.

Here are the signs of Skin Cancer. Use ABCDE

A for asymmetry: When divided in half it does not look the same on both sides.

B for border: Edges that are blurry or jagged.

C for color: Changes in the color, including darkening, spread of color, loss of color, or the appearance of multiple colors such as blue, red, white, pink, purple or gray.

D for diameter: Larger than 1/4 inch in diameter.

E for elevation: Raised above the skin and has an uneven surface.

In conclusion, practice sun safe principles as you venture outdoors. Protect your skin and eyes with the measures that are appropriate for the conditions that you encounter as you are out enjoying the routes and summiting the mountains. Use common sense and prevention to ensure many more years of mountaineering.

Climb Glacier education series: Climbing Helmets


The “goob” summit pose on Bishops Cap. Next time I took the Black Diamond Half Dome helmet off before the summit shots.

Got Helmet Hair?

Okay helmets are a pain to carry and they don’t look very cool in photos. But in the end it boils down to protecting your brain from stuff that can hurt or kill you.

If you have ever climbed in Glacier you have probably come close to being hit by rock screaming down a couloir.  This is especially true if you are climbing below others in your party or if there are mountain goats above your route.


Scrambling on the Mount Siyeh route.

A FACT of science: Rock is hard and your head is not.

Wear a helmet whenever there is potential for rock fall or falling.

Consider these stats:

  • In the United States, every 21 seconds someone sustains a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and over 50,000 people die from these injuries every year while 235,000 are hospitalized.
  • The American Association of Neurological Surgeons reports that 21% of traumatic head injuries occur in sports and recreation.
  • Males are twice as likely as females to be injured.
  • In one study, wearing a helmet while climbing may have made a difference in 25% of the critical trauma fatalities.
  • Helmets also protect against fractures, concussions, and lacerations.

A cooler “goob” shot. Above Preston Park on Mount Siyeh Route.  Wearing the Madillo helmet from Edelrid.

So please get Helmet Hair and risk looking like a goob in photos. Looking like a goob is better than having a traumatic brain injury.

Here are just three examples from my experience about wearing helmets.

  • In 2010, one of my climbing partners fell about 10 feet on a challenging section of Sinopah Mountain after the rock he trusted pulled out.  He landed directly on his helmet which saved his brain.  To this day he is convinced that the helmet saved his life.
  • Many times I have stood up into rock on overhangs while climbing through cliffs, each time I do this I am thankful that I have my helmet on.
  • While ascending Chief Mountain in October 2012 many of the team members were hit by rock that was falling off the snow-covered slopes.  None of it was huge but it could have been disastrous.  I was less worried about it than others because I had a helmet.

CGNP Education-smallThat being said here are a few recommendations:

  • The best helmet fits well, is comfortable, and is in your price range.  Purchase one that meets these criteria.  Climbing stores, like Rocky Mountain Outfitter, can help you with this.
  • Make sure you watch the video.  Jandy Cox from Rocky Mountain Outfitter shares his knowledge about different types of climbing helmets as well as how to get the proper fit for your climbing helmet.
  • Carry it until you need it.  There is no need to wear a helmet until starting the challenging portion of the route.  Wear it when you need it, take it off when you don’t.
  • Hang on to it.  There is a Black Diamond helmet on the slopes of Mount Cannon after it slipped out of my sweaty hands while adjusting the fit.
  • Carefully inspect your helmet if you drop it.  Be careful when you lay down your pack.
  • Falling = replacement.  If you need to replace your helmet that means your old one worked.
  • It only works if you wear it!
Summit shot from Mount Siyeh.  Good to be helmet free on the summit.

Summit shot from Mount Siyeh. Good to be helmet free on the summit.

I own two helmets.  The orange Black Diamond Half Dome is used by friends who don’t own a helmet and I use a Edelrid Madillo.

The Madillo collapses down into a smaller package which takes up much less room in my pack.  It is just a bit more expensive but due to the convenience of the smaller size I tend to carry it along on climbs.

Jandy also spoke about the Black Diamond Vapor Helmet.

One final hint, take you helmet off for summit shots to look like less of a goob.

Better yet take some of both.  Send the one with your helmet on to your mom, because she always wants you to be safe.  Send the one with your helmet off to that friend who will be jealous of the view from the top.

See you on the routes.


© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

Disclosure of Material Connection:I have not received any compensation for writing this post.  I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”