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[at-l] Summit weather stories

Hypothermia - one of the most troublesome hazards for the backpacker.

There are three stages, fairly well seperated by behavior - although a
thermometer would help. Early/mild includes a low drop in core
temperature with heavy shivering and distress as the victim attempts to
retain heat. Shivering can be severe enough to inhibit walking. The
next phase is much colder drop in core temperature, loss of shivering
response and much more confusion and clumsiness. The final stages
involve loss of consciousness and shock, including cardiovascular

Treatment, particularly in the moderate and late stages does NOT
include hot drinks. This is a particularly great way to advance cardiac
arrhythmias and death. Water/electrolyte & sugar solutions near room
temperature are helpful, as the shivering work tends to advance
dehydration as a complication. Sugar, honey and any other source of
quick calories also helps the victim - particularly in early stages. If
the victim is in wet clothing (especially cotton underwear, sweatshirts
and the like) remove them and get the victim into a sleeping bag or dry
clothes. In a pinch, plastic garbage sacks make excellent rewarming
chambers, while keeping the victim's airway open, of course.

If the victim is delirious and agitated, there may be very little the
rescuer will be able to do. Most folks will maintain CPR until the
"cold and dead" victim is either resuscitated or "warm and dead." A
rescuer in the backcountry has to make the judgement call.

The description of the death sounds as if he had excellent attempts at
resuscitation and rescue. His delirium most likely prevented basic
efforts such as hydration/feeding/warming. I would not second guess the
efforts, and applaud the details of their reports.


--- RoksnRoots@aol.com wrote:
>      However, of the 2 death-due-to-cold reports I've read on AT
> lists over
> the last few years I have yet to see any of the witness accounts
> mention the
> finder trying to get the victim in a sleeping bag or do basic
> rewarming.

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