Head Protection on Glaciers

by Neil Harrison

The Bertol mountain refuge is perched on a spine of rock in the Swiss Alps surrounded by glaciers.

I frequently climb the glaciers to spend the night there.

This summer I took a friend up who was very experienced in altitude climbing. After 3 hours in the sun, he started to lag and suffer from stomach cramps.

Later he started to suffer from fatigue, so I took his rucksack. Then he started to vomit painfully.

We finally made it to the refuge but he was in very bad shape.

The guardian wanted to call a helicopter to get him out immediately, but I was unconvinced that he had AMS.

I spoke to a doctor over a satellite phone and after checking for heart attack, and other possible ailments, he diagnosed it as heat exhaustion.

After slow rehydration and bed rest my friend recovered. He hadn’t worn a sun hat on the way up.

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