American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Inadequate Water—Dehydration, Exhaustion, North Carolina, Moore's Wall, Sentinel Buttress

  • Accident Reports
  • Accident Year:
  • Publication Year: 2002

INADEQUATE WATER–DEHYDRATION, EXHAUSTION

North Carolina, Moore's Wall, Sentinel Buttress

At approximately 1800 on June 6,1 received a radio communication from seasonal office assistant RyanMoorefield. He had received a call from Stokes County Communications that a climber on Moore’s Wall had phoned 911 by cell phone to advise of an unconscious climber. I arrived at the scene (the base of Sentinel Buttress) at 1820 and was advised by the individuals on the scene that a climber, Jason Blevins (19), had been approximately 50 feet from the top of the climb when he passed out from dehydration and exhaustion (all Blevins had to drink this day was a half can of soda). Two climbers, Zack Blevins and Jesse Kale (not part of the climbing party), helped lower Jason onto a large ledge approximately 100 feet from the base of the climb. At this time Blevins regained consciousness but was disoriented. When I arrived, I spoke with Kale, who stated that Jason was conscious and speaking with no obvious injuries but requested water. While awaiting the arrival of Stokes Mountain Rescue, water was passed up to them via rope. Mountain rescue arrived at approximately 1845 and was led to a point directly above the climbers by myself and Ranger Joe Deppe. Mountain Rescue members rappelled to the climbers and assisted them to the base of the climb. Blevins was carried out to an awaiting ambulance by Mountain Rescue and Fire department personnel via Stokes Basket. Blevins was examined by medical personnel and signed a refusal to receive farther medical assistance form. (Source: Craig D. Standridge, Hanging Rock State Park)

Analysis

Staying hydrated is an important consideration when exercising in any environment. This is especially true when climbing in North Carolina (or other temperate environments) during the hot and humid summer months. It’s not uncommon to lose one liter of sweat during one hour of exertion. This incident reminds climbers to make sure that they remain hydrated throughout the climbing experience. Climbers should establish a water-drinking regimen in order to maximize performance. It’s recommended that water be ingested prior to exercise and repeated every 15 or 20 minutes. Drinking a half can of soda for an entire day of climbing is clearly inadequate.

This rescue effort required over 140 hours of volunteer labor (26 people x 5.5 hours)! This is why climbers should familiarize themselves with basic partner and self-rescue skills in order to facilitate their own rescue. (Source: Aram Attarian)

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