American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Inadequate Equipment for Nocturnal Diuresis, Weather, Washington, North Cascades

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 1989


Washington, North Cascades

On August 19, 1988, four veteran mountaineers set out to ascend the West Ridge of Eldorado Peak in the North Cascades of Washington. The group was surprised by high winds, rain, and snow and was forced to make camp at 2030 meters. Equipped primarily for a summer climb, the oldest climber, who has predictible nocturnal diuresis at altitude, had forgotten his usual “pee bottle,” a zip-lock bag. Undaunted by his forgetfulness, the climber fully opened one of the four 25 oz. cans of Foster’s Ale, carried to high camp by one of his compatriots, to use as a substitute. During one of his nocturnal wakenings (necessitated in part by prior ingestion of the contents of the can), high winds and snow made impeccable maneuvering difficult, and he incurred a superficial laceration from the sharp edges of the can. Excessive blood loss was prevented by a firm squeeze technique; and so as not to foreshorten their trip, steri- strips were quickly applied longitudinally. This technique provided painless, effective closure of the two centimeters horizontal laceration. With no further trauma or change in morphology of the injured part, the steri-strips lasted for an adequate length of time to permit an uneventful descent. (Source: R. B. Schoene)

(Editor’s Note: While no category exists for this kind of accident in our data base—nor do we intend to create one, this candid account is included for the readers’ edification. With thanks to the members of this group, R B. Schoene, T. F. Hombein, W. Q. Sumner, and F. Dunham, we hope the most important member has fully recovered....)

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