Objective Hazards The Mountain Environment

Objective hazards are the natural processes that exist whether humans are involved or not. Darkness, storms, lightning, cold, precipitation, high altitude, avalanches, and rockfall are powerful, impersonal environmental conditions that can easily overwhelm humans. These objective hazards of the mountains are eternally persistent and changeable. We cannot control these forces, but we can learn to recognize them and act to minimize their dangers.

You will find detailed information throughout this entire book on dealing with objective hazards, especially in the chapters on wilderness travel and on the various types of climbing—rock, snow, ice, winter, and aid. They spell out ways to confront objective hazards ranging from fearsome exposure and rotten rock to avalanches and steep snow slopes with poor runout. They give advice on avoiding rockfall, icefall, cornices, crevasses, and other environmental dangers.

Many of the hazards of the terrain are relatively easy to spot, such as rotten rock or a steep cliff. The hazards of weather can be somewhat more difficult to identify because they change so quickly. When they do, it often adds significant risk to the climb. Rain or snow turns warm, dry rock into wet or icy surfaces difficult to climb. Wind blows ropes around and also makes corn-

spot potential accidents, and takes such precautions as turning back a minimally equipped party in the face of worsening weather.

Continue reading here: Hazards

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