Tragedy on Shasta
While climbing on Mt. Shasta, one of California's highest peak, Oakland climber Tom Bennett suffered from acute altitude sickness, also known as high altitude cerebral edema. The condition strikes quickly and can render a victim unconscious in minutes.
Bennett along with Berkeley climber Mark Thomas, headed up Shasta with the intent of summiting and returning after a night close to the summit. After strapping on his crampons close to the base, Bennett complained of symptoms HACE- blurried vision, a lost sense of balance, and slight confusion. Bennett shrugged the condition off.
When the pair were at 14,005 feet, a mere 100 feet below the summit, the strong gusts of the mountain top forced the pair to retreat to the shelter of a snow cave, where they planned to stay until first light. The men attempted to descend, but the wind chilled them and the high altitude affected their ability to move quickly. Thomas called for a rescue with his cell phone and helped the immobilized Bennett into a snow cave.
The San Francisco Chronicle wrote an account of the event, which can be found here
High Altitude Cerebral Edema and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema are common in the mountains and often lead to tragic consequences. Acclimatization is essential to successfula and safe mountain ascents. For more information about HACE and HAPE, check out the Climb-High site
, and the basic Wikipedia information
Touchstone would like to offer their condolences to the Bennett family.
Labels: HACE, HAPE, Shasta