Tag Archives: safety

Head vs. Rock

CGNP Education-smallOkay, once again, this is your head and this is a rock.

It is usually bad news when they meet.

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.

In the month of July my friend, Chris Rost, climbed to the true summit of Heavy Runner and to the summit of Pollock Mountain.

While neither of these climbs, in and of themselves, was particularly notable Chris was involved in two incidents that further stress the importance of wearing a climbing helmet. Chris is a medical provider and knows a thing or two about keeping his head protected.

Wearing a climbing helmet is a great idea anytime you are around places where there is potential for rock fall or there is a risk of falling.

Helmets are also quite handy for protecting your head if you stand up too tall while ascending a cliff or cleft.

Example #1: Wear a helmet whenever there is potential for loose rock. 

While rappelling from the true summit of Heavy Runner Mountain Chris’s helmet prevented him from getting injured. The video is courtesy of Chris Rost.

 

Chris told me that the rock was about the size of his hand and is he convinced that he would have got at a minimum a nice cut on his head if not some more serious injury.

Example #2: Wearing a helmet prevents injury to your head.

Hair on the rock

Hair on the rock

In this example a climber was ascending the Great Cleft route to reach the summit of Pollock Mountain. Chris Rost was in the area when this climber was injured and got permission to take the photos. We have intentionally not revealed the climber’s name.

Helmets protect your head if you stand up too tall.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been surprised that when I stand up I hit my head on a rock. Most of the time I have a helmet on and it is just a surprise.

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.
  • Ouch?!

    Hair donation site, ouch?!

    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 an orange  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!

Thanks Chris Rost for this reminder.

No rocks were injured in the production of this video and photos.

You obviously can see the benefits of purchasing and wearing a climbing helmet.

Be safe out there and climb smart.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2015

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.

SNOWBLINDNESS

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: Quad Maps On Line

EducationCan You Ever Have Too Many Maps?

Maps are an essential part of exploring Glacier National Park.

We use them for route planning before every climb. With just some simple education on how to read a map the outdoor enthusiast can gain some fantastic information.  In addition to the obvious location of peaks, streams and other geographic features it is also possible to determine the elevation as well as slope of a particular route.

I have included some practical map reading skills in Map Reading 101 Part 1 and Map Reading 101 Part 2.

There is a pretty cool on-line site called the Libre Map Project that features 7.5 Minute Series Topographic Maps.

Here is how to use Libre Maps find a geographic feature, such as Seward Mountain in Glacier National Park (or anywhere in the USA).

1) To locate the proper Quad map for Seward Mountain type Seward” into the Libre Map search engine.

Make sure you select the correct state if you are searching for data in another state.  This link is set for Montana.

2) Press “SEARCH” and a new window will open with Montana Place Names Search Results.

3) To save the map on your computer right click on the “TIFF” link.

4) Select “Save Target As” and store the file on the desktop or a selected folder.

5) Once the image is downloaded open it with a photo viewing program such as Windows Photo Gallery.

The results will come up and identify “Many Glacier” as the quad that Seward Mountain is found on. Download it and view it.

This is another fun way to explore Glacier National Park.

Please enjoy.

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2014

Climb Glacier Education Series: Surviving in Glacier National Park

Education

Below is an excerpt from the article Surviving Glacier National Park by Scott Burry that was featured in Volumes 1 and 2 of the Climb Glacier Series.

Surviving in Glacier National Park: by Scott Burry, M.D.

Sometimes staying alive is about getting lucky.  If that’s your plan then please stay home.

Volume 5 (spring 2016 release): A climber braves the wind while climbing on a section of the Continental Divide unofficially named "The Mummy".

Volume 5 (spring 2016 release): A climber braves the wind while climbing on a section of the Continental Divide unofficially named “The Mummy”.

You don’t have to be a grizzled, leathery-faced, backwoods veteran to survive but you do have to be prepared.  If you always travel with the proper clothing and survival gear then you can go out with confidence and a sense of true freedom.  You can bag that peak and in the back of your mind, you’ll know that you’re equipped for the unexpected.

The most important part of survival is being prepared to survive.  It is not about making traps with shoestrings or getting a spark out of a camera battery (although those are cool skills to have and will score big points on the survival scale).

The key to coming back alive is expecting that someday you will be thrown into a survival situation and always being ready for that day.  

Every time you go out.

Volume 3: Climbers on the challenging route to the summit of Mount Brown.

Volume 3: Climbers on the challenging route to the summit of Mount Brown.

You’re Hurt But Not Lost

One minute you’re fine, the next you have a broken leg.  All right, do not panic.  Get your daypack off and take inventory.  Go thru every pocket, every crack, and every zipper.

Your primary objective is always going to be shelter.  That said you obviously see the importance of proper clothing.

Before the climb be a little paranoid and ask yourself “Do I have clothing packed that could get me through the night?”

Volume 3: Members of the group hike along the Ahern Peak climbers trail which leads to the summit from Ahern Pass.

Volume 3: Members of the group hike along the Ahern Peak climbers trail which leads to the summit from Ahern Pass.

You’re Lost But Not Hurt

Here are some questions that will help you decide what to do.

1) Who knows you are here?
2) When will the group be officially overdue?
3) Does anybody know where you are?
4) If you did tell someone where you were going, are you in that spot?
5) What gear do you have and how many days can you survive?
6) Is the group prepared for the current weather or what may be coming?
7) Can you reasonably expect a rescue in your situation or are you completely on your own?

Volume 1: A climber hikes to toward the summit of Piegan Mountain.

Volume 1: A climber hikes to toward the summit of Piegan Mountain.

You Simply Run Out Of Daylight Or Energy To Get Where You Need To Be

If you find yourself here, then ask yourself these questions.  “Can I for sure find my way in the dark?”  “Can I rally and make it to where I need to be if I just rest and eat a little?”  “What weather is expected tonight and am I ready for it?”

Obviously, if snow is coming in and you’re in shorts you have a problem.  This scenario is easy if you’re prepared and can even be fun.  Just get out your survival blanket and make a shelter.  Make an insulating layer out of gear, make a fire, and settle in like an old cowboy.  This is just part of the deal.

Volume 2: Two climbers are headed toward Mount Henry but first they will ascend Medicine.  Medicine is rated as a Class II peak.

Volume 2: Two climbers are headed toward Mount Henry but first they will ascend Medicine. Medicine is rated as a Class II peak.

Severe Weather Moves In Quickly And Now You’re Stuck

What should you do?  Do you pound it down the trail just trying to get out or do you hunker down and wait it out?

That depends on the gear you have with you.  With good rain gear and the energy to motor out then that’s probably the best decision.

If you’re not ready for rain and you’re looking at 10 miles soaking wet with a dropping temperature then hypothermia is a real risk.  It’s a tough decision but you may be better off forming a quick shelter and staying dry.

Take what little daylight you have left and get yourself settled into a place where you can feel safe and with as much protection from the elements as possible.

Whether you stay or go is situation dependent but if you have your quart bag survival kit, at least you have some options.

Scott’s Quart Bag Survival Kit

All of it will fit in a quart bag and can help you stay alive.

– Compass
– Multi-tool
– Emergency Space Blanket x 2 or 1 blanket and 1 trash bag
– 10-15 ft of small diameter cord/rope
– Small, hotel shampoo bottle filled with fire paste
– Vaseline rubbed cotton balls in a film canister
– Magnesium block & flint or other “spark striker” device
– Old style cigarette lighter with flint and spark wheel
– About 2-3 ft of duck tape wrapped back on itself
– Small LED light preferably with a strobe function
– Extra batteries for electronic navigation devices such as SPOT or G.P.S.
– A few safety pins of varying size
– 1 x 1 ft piece of aluminum foil
– Signal mirror
– Baggy of Ibuprofen or other stronger painkiller if available

There you have it.  Just some ideas for you to think about before heading out on your next adventure.

See you on the routes,

Blake

© Montana Outdoor Guidebooks, 2013

Climb Glacier education series: Climbing Helmets

098

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.

IMG_0994

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.
IMG_7767

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.

Blake

© 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.”