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Snow Blindness—Inadequate Equipment, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak

SNOW BLINDNESS-INADEQUATE EQUIPMENT

Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak

On June 11, Michael William Pope (45) lost his sight while descending from a successful off-season ascent of the Keyhole Route on Longs Peak. It was a particularly bright and sunny day on the snow-covered route, but Pope had forgotten to pack his sunglasses. His eyes began to burn with intense pain, and he could not see farther than 10 feet. What he could see was blurred with a milky haze to it. Pope called for assistance through his family band radio. Park rangers responded and assisted him to the trailhead.

Analysis

Losing one’s sight on a mountain can result in additional accidents! Remember your sunglasses or turn around before the damage to your eyes becomes severe. In an emergency, one can manufacture an improvised pair of sunglasses from cardboard and/or tape with just small slits for viewing. (Source: Jim Detterline and Mark Magnuson, NPS Rangers, RMNP)