Risk Management Corner: March 2023

This is a blog post dedicated to topics related to Risk Management and Safety at the Colorado Mountain Club.
Graham Ottley Graham Ottley
April 04, 2023

Incident: Group turns around due to potential Cold Injury
Date: March 27, 2023
Type: Near Miss / COld Injury

Incident Narrative: A group from Colorado Mountain Club was headed up to Grizzly Peak as part of a training climb for the Alpine Climbing School. A male student appeared fatigued from early in the trip, and admitted on first check-in with him that the altitude was getting to him. Subsequently, the volunteer leader kept continuous observations and checked in several more times. At a stopping point, he checked in again, and noticed white frostnip patches on his right cheek and nose. The leader instructed the participant to cover the affected area with a buff, and the decision was made to immediately turn the trip around and return to the trailhead.

Incident Analysis: The concern for cold injuries is good for leaders to recognize and also communicate. As described, this can be mitigated by assessing conditions pre-trip and discussing how to manage them during the hike. The trip leader mentioned fatigue which could be contributed as a secondary cause, leading to poor self-care (managing layers / goggle to prevent skin exposure).

Further readingWilderness Medicine: Frostbite 101

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Rich McAdams
Rich McAdams says:
Apr 12, 2023 10:18 AM

Our Januray CMC trip to Grizzly in the late 1980's had a different outcome. The trip leader didn't monitor the health of the participants, allowed the group to fragment into three subgroups, didn't stop for for food or water, and continued ascending even with blizzard conditions expected. He misplaced three hikers that afternoon, with one spending the night on the ridge. Big law suit against the CMC based on leader negligence which was not covered by the CMC liability policy. Individual who spent the night on the ridge ultimately had the front of both feet amputated.

Suzy Allexan
Suzy Allexan says:
Apr 22, 2024 12:37 PM

glad you posted this....we all need reminders.

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