Cold Weather

What Should I Do?

Preparing for Cold Weather

Layers, Patterns, and Every Day Carry
Monday, January 6, 2014, 7:24 PM

The notion of preparing for cold weather has radically different meanings between geographic locations. A person living in Louisiana will have different needs than someone in Wyoming, and as such, it’s important to discuss what environments create “cold,” the types of cold, and how they create thermal injuries.  There are differing schools of thought, but the following is a good cross-section that should help you get a hook set in Old Man Winter and keep his icy fingers off you as much as possible. » Read more

What Should I Do?

Winter Survival Tips

Being prepared for severe winter storms and unexpected natur
Friday, February 8, 2013, 5:00 PM

[NOTE: This article is adapted from When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival]

The first time I met Hugh Herr, he was partnered with a buddy of mine to climb a famous “hard man” Yosemite rock climb called “Astroman.” Just a 16-year-old kid at the time, Hugh was one of the hottest teenage rock climbers in the world, and already making quite a name for himself as a rising young “rock star.” The following winter he was developing his ice climbing and mountaineering skills in Huntington’s Ravine on the slopes of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington—famous for its high winds and severe weather. After successfully completing a difficult ice climb, Hugh and his partner Jeff Batzer decided to continue on to the summit of Mount Washington. The weather was horrendous—full blown blizzard and “whiteout” conditions. Before reaching the summit, Hugh and his partner decided to turn around. However, while descending the rather featureless summit cone of Mount Washington in whiteout conditions, they became disoriented and mistakenly descended into the “Great Gulf Wilderness,” one ravine over from where the rest of their gear was stashed and a warm fire awaited them in the Harvard Cabin nestled near the bottom of Huntington’s Ravine. Stumbling through deep snows in the Great Gulf, at one point Hugh’s feet broke through the snow into a creek and got wet. When the two climbers did not return to the cabin that night, a search was launched in which one would-be rescuer was killed in an avalanche. After spending three nights outside in -20°F (-29C) conditions, without the protection of either tents or sleeping bags, Hugh and Jeff were finally located and rescued. Both men suffered from severe hypothermia and frostbite. After weeks of fighting to save Hugh’s gangrenous feet, both legs were amputated just below the knee. His climbing partner Jeff also lost his lower left leg, the toes on his right foot, and the fingers on his right hand.

Tips for Surviving Outside in Extreme Weather and Subfreezing Temperatures

Every year people get lost in the backcountry near where I live in the High Sierras and end up spending one or more unplanned nights outside in the snow and extreme cold. Some of those folks live to tell the tale, and some of them don’t. Hopefully you will never need to spend unexpectedly long hours outside in extreme weather, but in case you do, here are a few tips: » Read more