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Hypothermia, Altitude Sickness, Wyoming, Tetons

HYPOTHERMIA, ALTITUDE SICKNESS

Wyoming, Tetons

On August 12 at 6:30 p.m., I was dispatched to and located Michael Widenbeck (17) at the northwest end of Surprise Lake. He was in a state of disorientation, hypothermia, and suffering from mountain sickness. Widenbeck had been placed in a sleeping bag, and given two quarts of hot soups and drinks (under supervision of a present doctor), then was escorted out by members of his group when energy returned. (Source: George Montopoli, Grand Teton National Park)

Analysis

This is not technically a mountaineering accident, but because the victim was part of the Camp Davis group of 39 students being led by an individual of questionable ability from the Universtiy of Michigan. The problems, which could have led to more serious accidents, were identified as follows: escorting 39 students to the Teton Glacier during a storm that began at 11 a.m.; students were ill clothed, dressed in jeans and shorts, some without raincoats; lack of ice axes, students were reported to be arresting themselves on the snow with geology hammers in dangerous terrain; lack of supervision, hypothermic victim had only one pint of water and no food all day, and had given his raincoat to a woman without one; general lack of knowledge concerning the mountain environment. (Source: George Montopoli, Grand Teton National Park, and J. Williamson)