June 9, 2017Samrat Chakraborty

Hazards in mountain & snow bound areas

1) Junar gali col. 2) Shila-samudra meadow.  The down pointing arrow shows the location of the Shila-samudra glacier coming from left. Taken from dodang campsite, which as we can see is a rock shelter.

Mountain hazards are two types : Subjective and Objective.

Subjective hazards are those that directly depends on the climber’s action. Example – Technical fault/carelessness/over confidence.

Objective hazards are those that mountaineer/climber/trekker can not control. Example – Avalanch, Landslide, Snowfall , Rain.

Categorisation of objective hazards – 1. Snow 2. Weather 3. Rock 4. River crossing 5. Health 6. Glacier 7. Physiological.

  1. SNOW GROUP HAZARDS –
    1. Avalanch  (
    will be discussed in future)
    2. Soft snow

    3. Hard snow
    4. Hanging snow
    5. Cornice (
    Overhang of snow made by icy wind on the ridge line)
    6. Snow bridge (
    very brittle ) – need to be roped up and crawled over it so that body weight is distributed in four points rather than two.
    7. Snow on tree
  2. WEATHER HAZARDS –
    1. Storm  – 
    Snow storm with powder snow can be deadly, it can choke life out of living being as he/she cant breathe in it.  Can reduce the temperature rapidly.
    2. Temperature –
    Changes quickly, adequate and dry clothing required.
    3. Cloud –
    Visibility depleted, accidents can occur , loss of direction can happen in white out.
    4. Ultra-violate – Even on a cloudy day , wear goggles.
    5. Wind chill factor – ( Icy wind , need to keep soft parts / nose/ear/finger covered.
    6. Lightening
  3. ROCK GROUP HAZARDS – 
    1. Rock gap – Gap between two rocks but not visible because of snow.
    2. Scree or Loose Slate – dislodging one rock may lead to “scree chute” where one dislodged small stone dislodges other stones beneath it , the process continues , and heaps of stones/loose slate falls down the slope with massive momentum, leading to destruction.
    3. Verglass – Thin layer of ice on rock surface generally at the early hours.
    4. Rockfall (due to snowfall, melting of snow, earthquake or by animal )
  4. RIVER CROSSING HAZARDS
    1. Dry crossing (Single rope bridge, Double rope bridge , Single belly , double belly, Laying tree , Tarzan swing )  *will be discussed in future
    2. Wet crossing (Wading method , In pair or by making human chain )
  5. HEALTH HAZARDS
    1. Acute Mountain Sickness [AMS]
    (headache,
    not in mood to talk,
    dizziness,
    no hunger,
    vomit,
    difficulty sleeping)
    2. High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema [HAPO]
    ( Accumulation of fluid in lungs,
    Headache,
    Caugh ,
    Breathlessness at rest,
    Chest tightness,
    Chest pain )
    3. High Altitude Cerebral Oedema [HACO]
    ( Hits within 24 hours after AMS has hit,
    Accumulation of fluid in brain ,
    Ataxia – loss of coordination ,
    Mental states changes ,
    Confusion ,
    Disorientation )
    4. Cold Injuries
    i) Generalised -> Hypothermia
    ii) Localised –
    (a) NON freezing type 1) Chillblain & 2) Trench foot
    (b) freezing type  1) Frost bite & 2) Frost nip
    iii) Others
    -> Solar keratitis (Snow blindness)
    -> Sunburn
    -> Rhinitis (constant water through nose and eye)
    *Cold injuries / Health hazards will be discussed in detail in future.
  6. GLACIAL HAZARDS –   
    1. Open crevasse/Hidden crevasse – (Vertical , horizontal or diagonal crack in glacier)
    2. Bargschrund – ( that huge crevasse which separates the glacier from the main slope of the mountain and constantly feed ice to the active part of the glacier)
    3. Serac – ( A large mass of ice surrounded by intersecting crevasses )
    4. Snow bridge – ( A layer of hard snow/ice bridging a crevasse, a stream or a gap )
  7. PHYSIOLOGICAL HAZARDS –
    1. Staying at high altitudes for long time can make a person lethargic and careless.
    2. Sometimes mountaineer feels like lying down the day – this is called “glacial lassitude”.
DZONGU
To eliminate risks at High Altitudes | Set 1

About the Author

Samrat Chakraborty
Samrat Chakraborty Naturalist, trekker, mountain climber, blogger. Been trekking and climbing in Indian Himalayas for the last 12 years. Special interests - Wildlife study, Geography; Believes in - Conservation of natural flora and faunna

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