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Risk of asphyxiation in snow cave and heavy snowfall?
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alpheli


Feb 12, 2005, 7:43 PM
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Risk of asphyxiation in snow cave and heavy snowfall?
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How worried are you about getting the ventilation holes clogged by heavy snowfall?

If the snow is really coming down before I go to sleep I might set the clock so I can check the ventilation, but what about snowy weather coming in during the night?

Are there any reported incidents (I know of deaths related to cooking and gas on volcanoes, but not clogged ventilation)?
How often should one check the ventilation?

/Alpheli


Partner chugach001


Feb 13, 2005, 11:38 AM
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Re: Risk of asphyxiation in snow cave and heavy snowfall? [In reply to]
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Yes it has happened. I recall a couple in the Himalaya and another team somewhere else who died asleep in their tents.

My wife and I got buried 3' deep (over top of tent) in a storm and woke up short of breath. Digging out was a bear. Only when we broke through to fresh air did we realize how shallow our breaths had been.

Snowcaves will seal up just as quickly and need to be vented.

Cheers,
Jeff


eiliv


Feb 28, 2005, 4:37 AM
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Re: Risk of asphyxiation in snow cave and heavy snowfall? [In reply to]
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You don`t need ventilation holes. The snow itself contains enough air to sustain you for several days. The Swiss army has done torough scientific studies on this (in totaly sealed off snow caves, in diferent snowpacks). From the real world, one guy i Sweden survived for five days buried by an avalanche! He did not have any ventilation holes..
However, you should never cook inside your snow cave. Not for risk of asphyxiation, but bechause a hot flame from a stove, on the cold metal of the pot (when melting snow), creates a lot of carbon monoxide.


climbingnurse


Feb 28, 2005, 6:17 AM
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Re: Risk of asphyxiation in snow cave and heavy snowfall? [In reply to]
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The post above seems suspect... Lots more people get buried in avalanches and wind up quite dead. Most people would die of hypothermia after 5 days anyway.

Anyway, you can put a tent pole or even a trekking pole into your ventilation hole. This allows you to jiggle it around and clear fresh snow and thus keep the hole open.

Keep an eye on your partner. If he or she starts turning blue around the lips you need to do something quickly to rectify that situation. Most people start to feel restless and anxious when they get a little hypoxic (before turning blue). The problem with that is that most people feel restless and anxious in just about any snow cave.

(Standard Disclaimer: Dont' follow my advice. I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm not even a nurse just yet. 82 days until graduation!!)


akclimber


Feb 28, 2005, 11:17 PM
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Re: Risk of asphyxiation in snow cave and heavy snowfall? [In reply to]
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Solid question. Does anyone have any links do to accidental deaths and what exactly happened?

We slept in a cave the other night, no real problems, though had gigantic holes to get in and out.


akclimber


Feb 28, 2005, 11:52 PM
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Re: Risk of asphyxiation in snow cave and heavy snowfall? [In reply to]
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I found an interesting one. Good read and informing, using good rescources and people. (Dr. Peter Hackett)


adnix


Mar 1, 2005, 12:25 AM
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Re: Risk of asphyxiation in snow cave and heavy snowfall? [In reply to]
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In reply to:
The post above seems suspect... Lots more people get buried in avalanches and wind up quite dead. Most people would die of hypothermia after 5 days anyway.
It's because an ice layer forms right in front of your face due to breathing and CO2 can't get away. There's a respiration redirection device from Black Diamond called Avalung. If you'll survive 1 hour with that in avalanche debris I would bet on surviving days in average snow pit.

Tents are a different story since nylon doesn't breathe that much.


swesterhus


Mar 2, 2005, 10:21 AM
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Re: Risk of asphyxiation in snow cave and heavy snowfall? [In reply to]
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You only need ONE anchor for your belay as well you know... No, but seriously; there are many types of snow crystals and the weather ie.: temperature and wind can and will pack the snow in many different ways.

The real problem really arises when you're stuck there for a day or maybe more and you're getting really cold and thirsty (as you will do even after a short time) and you'll wan't to get to some of the water lurking aroud you playing with your sence of thirst. (Sounds familiar?) You will want to and you do need to keep drinking, and It only takes a few seconds of attention every so often in a storm to keep that hole open you know. :wink:


adnix


Mar 4, 2005, 10:18 AM
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In reply to:
You will want to and you do need to keep drinking, and It only takes a few seconds of attention every so often in a storm to keep that hole open you know. :wink:
Well of course, but I wouldn't lose my good night sleep for keeping the hole open. Even if it's storming outside.


brianinslc


Mar 4, 2005, 11:00 AM
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Re: Risk of asphyxiation in snow cave and heavy snowfall? [In reply to]
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How worried are you about getting the ventilation holes clogged by heavy snowfall?

I wouldn't be worried except if I was cooking inside the snow cave. Then I'd be worried about the CO.

But...usually, snow seems pretty porous. And, when it starts to glaze over is about the time that the ceiling is sagging enough that you need to redig and/or move some snow around anyhow, so, solves the problem either way.

I don't think folks die of lack of good ventilation with regard to too much CO2 and lack of oxygen. Mostly, 'cause its uncomfortable to not get air, and you'll wake up at the least. CO is bad, 'cause its the silent killer: it'll put you to sleep. Forever.

Anyhoo, was stuck in a snow cave for 5 days once with no door and no ventilation. Was running the stove that caused us to dig for ventilation, not lack of breathable air.

-Brian in SLC


Partner hosh


Mar 4, 2005, 11:05 AM
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Re: Risk of asphyxiation in snow cave and heavy snowfall? [In reply to]
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interesting topic. I've bivied in the mountains once where snow fall covered my bivy completely. No vents, had to dig out in the morning. Wasn't burried too long though, and only like a foot or less deep. Not that extreme or life threatening.


Hosh.


akclimber


Mar 4, 2005, 11:48 AM
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Re: Risk of asphyxiation in snow cave and heavy snowfall? [In reply to]
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Oops, here is the read I forgot to link, check it out...

http://www.outdooraustralia.com/ref_files/cave.htm


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