Rock Climbing in details

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Kaivalya Varma
Kaivalya is a Rock climber, Mountaineer, Subject matter expert in Industrial working at height and rope access. With over 100 Sahyadri pinnacles climbed, several of them are characterized as pioneering routes and virgin peaks. Apart from climbing Kaivlya has also mastered his skill in snake rescue and acquired a massive knowledge in this regard. Recently, he has ventured into new activity of fishing. He started his climbing career at the age of 15 and joined the Bhramanti in 2002. That is when our club were exploring our capabilities in rock climbing. In 2012 he becames secretary of Bhramanti Mountaineers. He was awarded "Sahyadri Mitra Samman" in 2013 for his climbing dedication and mentoring. Most of the Bhramanti climbs are well recorded in his meomory same like his equipment depository. He has dedicated one of his apartment room just for climbing and mountaineering gear which are like pets to him.

All of his write-ups are appended in this page date-wise, as one point of repository which he has published on Bhramanti FB group.

Selection of Harness
Selecting a Carabiner

Selecting Belay Device

Some Facts & Figures

Brand Loyality
Nylon and Dyneema webbings comparison
Clouds, Lightening impact & care to be taken
Water Purification
Preventing Bee attack
Leave No Trace
Avoiding Blisters in Outdoor


10-Feb-2015

Selection of Harness

Harness is the most crucial piece of gear since it is used by climbers to attach themselves to mountains for a prolonged period in case of long routes. The first Harness was made in United Kingdom’s in 1960’s. These were known as Swami Belt. Later veteran climber Don Whillans designed the first Harness for the most technical and notorious route of those days Annapurna South Face in 1970 led by Sir Chris Bonnington which was known as Whillans Harness. This was the most popular Harness designed and used till the end of 1980’s. Since then there have been tremendous changes in design and material of Harness. These days OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) has designed Harness for specific use like sports, mountaineering and multi-pitch climbing unlike the traditional ones to cater needs of professional climbers attempting technical routes which needs customized harnesses.
EN 361 certification is mandatory for any Harness for Rope Access application. Recreational climbing Harness should have EN 12277 and UIAA 105 marks. For recreational EN has categorized harness into four types;
Type A: FULL BODY HARNESS FOR ADULTS. These Harnesses are fully adjustable and generally used for activities like Via Ferrata and Ropes Course in which fall could happen unexpectedly. These Harnesses are generally not padded and uncomfortable for long suspension.
Type B: FULL BODY HARNESS FOR KIDS. These Harnesses are mostly adjustable on the shoulder straps only. These Harnesses are used for kids ≤ 40kgs. There is no waist belt for these Harnesses since the hip bone of kid’s ≤ 40kgs is not developed to take impact during fall. The shoulder straps buckles are always on the back of the shoulders to avoid reach and accidental opening.
Type C: SEAT HARNESS, also known as climbing Harness. This is the most common type of Harness used for sports climbing, Multi-pitch and mountaineering purpose. This is the most preferred Harness for technical routes by most of the climbers since more than 80% of impact post fall is transferred through the leg loops to thighs where as the waist belt supports the spine. Since the center of gravity of humans is near lower back the design of the harness keeps the climber upright in case of fall. These Harnesses are more comfortable than any other type of Harness. These harnesses are very light and compact.
Type D: CHEST HARNESS. These Harnesses are made to be used in tandem with seat Harness. It should never be used by itself. Using only chest Harness could lead to death within few minutes due to chocking. These Harnesses are used for kids ≤40kgs since their hip bone is not developed to take impact during fall and their upper body is heavy compared to lower body or used for people having huge waist and hips to avoid slipping out of the Harness. The chest Harness should be connected to seat Harness with sling or webbing preferably avoiding connectors like carabiners.

EN 12277 and UIAA 105 test standards
EN 12277 and UIAA 105 test standards are too detailed and covering it would not be possible in this article hence, only important and relevant information is being covered below.
The waist belt used for Harness has to be at least 43mm for adults and 33mm for small body. Shoulder straps have to be at least 28mm and 23mm for small body version.
The attachment points of Type A Harness should withstand load of 15kN.
The attachment point of Type B Harness should withstand load of 10kN.
The belay loop of Type C Harness should withstand load of 15kN in upright position and 10kN in head down position. Since the test load of 15kN contains lot of margin for safety it is 100% safe, the maximum impact force of a rope is not allowed to exceed 12kN. An impact force of 12kN or more could be fatal as human body is not meant to withstand impact of 12kN ≥. During the test the waist belt is loaded up to 10kN and maximum slippage of belt should be 20mm. This is why after reversing of waist belt through the buckle there should be at least 3inches of end left out.

Uses:
OEMs manufacture Harness for Sports climbing, Multipitch, Big wall and Mountaineering. Let us see the difference and how to choose Harness for a specific use.
Sport climbing – Sports climbing Harness are with fixed leg loops and light weight. They are made to save every gram on climber’s body. Even the gear loops are small and not more than four. Petzl Hirundos, Camp Air, Metolius Safe Tech Comp, Black Diamond Chaos are few Harnesses made for sports climbing.
Multi-pitch climbing – These harness have adjustable leg loops to accommodate extra clothing in case of change in weather. They have good padding and comfortable compared to sports climbing Harness. Black Diamond Momentum, Petzl Adjama, CAMP Warden, CAMP Laser CR, Metolius Safe Tech Deluxe are few Harnesses made for Multi-pitch climbing.
Big wall climbing – Since Big wall climbing is an affair of more than 2 or 3 days these Harnesses are more beefier and has thick padding. They also have 5 or 6 gear loops. The leg loops can be separated from Waist belt for bivouac. Metolius Waldo, Metolius All Around, Yates Big Wall, Yates Shield and Black Diamond Big Gun, Petzl Calidris are few Harnesses made for Big Wall Climbing.
Mountaineering – Every gram counts at high altitude hence Mountaineering Harness has to be ultra light and compact with bare minimum padding since layers of clothing act like padding on a high altitude expedition. Padding absorbs water and cold water freezes the extremities and also increases the weight. The leg loops should be adjustable to be worn while wearing crampons. Black Diamond Alpine Bod, Black Diamond Couloir, Black Diamond Bod and CAMP Blitz are few Harnesses made for Mountaineering.

NOTE: Always follow the following points before you start climbing:
1. Waist belt is tight enough and seated on hip bone
2. Leg loops to be snug fit
3. Belay loop and all load bearing stitches should be intact
4. Always tie in rope with a Figure Of Eight Knot and avoid using Carabiner while tying in. Check if rope is passed through waist belt and leg loop.
5. Ensure the end of the belt is at least 3inchs min.
6. Partner check (Cross check)
7. Read the catalogue completely before using the Harness for the first time and follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
8. Do not use a Harness in case of doubt


31-Dec-2014

Selecting a Carabiner

What is a Carabiner?
A Carabiner is a metal link which is used to attach belay device/ rope to the climber. There is no evidence when and where the Carabiner was first made but it was used first time by a German climber Otto Herzog. It is said the Carabiner was first made in Germany since the word Carabiner comes from German word Karabinerhaken which means a hook used to hang Carbine rifle with a sling.
Parts of Carabiner -
Every Carabiner has a gate which is the only moving part. The opposite side of the gate is known as spine. The long axis is known as Major axis and the short axis is known as Minor Axis. The Carabiner is only made to load Major axis with gate closed.

Selecting a Carabiner for use –
Before selecting a Carabiner we need to understand the testing procedure and certification. Every Carabiner sold in market has something engraved like the breaking strength UIAA/EN/CE/NFPA. There are various testing methods like 3Sigma (read as 3Ϭ), 6Sigma (read as 6Ϭ), ISO, EN, UIAA, UL and NFPA to name a few. Black Diamond and Metolius use 6Ϭ where as European companies like CAMP and Cassin uses UIAA or EN. CE standards are mostly followed for Industrial Rope Access and Work at Height applications. For recreational climbing and mountaineering UIAA/EN standards are followed. Since there are no UIAA standards EN standards are followed by UIAA. The EN standard for Carabiner is EN 12755. Further the EN 12755 has been categorized in 6 sub types like B, X, D, H, K and Q. Let us know the sub types:

K (Klettersteig) – Klettersteig is German word for Via Ferrata. Carabiners used for Via Ferrata has a embossed letter K in a circle. These Carabiners should be auto lock with a keylock gate. K type Carabiners have wide gate opening compared to other Carabiners. According to EN Standards K type Carabiners should not be used for mountaineering and vice a versa. Manufacturing procedure and testing standards are different for other types of Carabiners. Via Ferrata fall has highest impact force on the entire system compared to fall during mountaineering or rock climbing hence only K type Carabiners should be used for Via Ferrata. K type Carabiners are also tested for edge loading upto 8kN. Using other types of Carabiners fo Via Ferrata could lead to fatal accident due to failure of carabiner.
Requirement for EN certification:
Major axis – 25kN
Minor axis – 7kN
Gate opening – 21mm

B (Basic) – B type Carabiner are plain Carabiners without lock. These Carabiners are used for Quick Draws. They could be wire gate and straight/bent gate plain Carabiners.
Requirement for EN certification:
Major axis – 20kN
Major axis – 7kN (Open gate)
Minor axis – 7kN
Gate opening – 15mm

D (Directional) – D type Carabiners are designed to be loaded on major axis during a fall. These Carabiners shall be used for Quickdraws only. DMM Mamba is an example of D type Carabiners.
Major axis – 20kN
Major axis – 7kN (Open gate)
Gate opening – 15mm
X (Oval) – X type Carabiner are designed for Aid – climbing and to use with a pulley. These Carabiners are symmetric in shape which doesn’t cross load the pulley and facilitate smooth functioning of pulley.
Major axis – 18kN
Major axis – 5kN (Open gate)
Minor axis – 7kN
Gate opening – 15mm

H (HMS) – HMS is short form for Halbmastwurfsicherung which is a German word for half Clove Hitch which also means Munter/Italian Hitch. These types of Carabiner are designed for belay. The pear shape facilitates use with a belay device or Italian Hitch.
Major axis – 20kN
Major axis – 6kN (Open gate)
Minor axis – 7kN
Gate opening – 15mm

Q (Quicklink) – Q type are Maillon Rapide which are Oval, Triangular or Semi-circular in shape. They have a screw gate unlike Carabiners. Triangular and Semi-circular are designed for triple or cross loading. These are generally made by SS316 material. Maillon Rapide are designed for Fixing Quickdraw one end to hanger.
Major axis – 25kN.

TO CONCLUDE – Never use a Carabiner without UIAA/EN/CE mark on it. Always use locking Carabiners for belaying and belay stations.



22-Dec-2014

"I have come across some new-bees who wanted to buy climbing gear (Harness, Belay Devices and Carabiners and Quick Draws) and start climbing but they are too confused after surfing internet. After having discussion with couple of friend I thought of posting this article to help people select belay devices. Now days with the help of innovative design and complex engineering all Original Equipment Manufacturers aka OEM’s of climbing equipments have flooded the market with countless belay devices. Climbers have started establishing difficult and technical routes with the help of these new hi-tech equipments. Thanks to the OEM.

What is a belay device? What is the function?

Belay device is basically a metal device through which the rope is passed and connected to the Belayer’s Harness to help arrest climber’s fall. When the climber falls off the friction created by the device places the load onto the harness, and thus the fall is arrested.
There are many different types and brands of belay devices available in the market. For ease of understanding and help choosing belay devices for specific use I have divided into four broad categories.

1) Traditional descender : These old style descenders which has a basic design of “8” shape to pass the rope and carabiner for attaching to the harness. These are the most primitive style descenders. These descender are made of aluminum alloy for mountaineering where as steel descenders are made for rescue like the Rescue 8. There are many varieties of figure of 8 in market Faders Ballet, Simond Figure of 8, Petzl Huit, Petzl Piranha, Singing Rock Figure of 8, CAMP OTTO to name a few.

Let us see some pros and cons
Pros : Can be used for any rope diameter or can be used with two ropes for rappelling. Dissipate heat efficiently. A square Figure of 8 descender like Rock Exotica Micro 8, Petzl Huit or Faders Ballet is better for controlling than the traditional figure of 8. Some varieties have ears to avoid locking of ropes and larks head. The ears also help to dissipate heat. Faders Ballet and Rock Exotica are the best when it comes to controlling and dissipate heat. In some descenders like the Petzl Piranha and Rock Exotica Micro 8 the ears can be used to increase friction for better controlling. Cheaper than any other belay device. Convenient to use at high altitude while wearing thick mittens on iced rope.
Cons : Controlling becomes difficult especially while using dry ropes, unwashed new static ropes and skinny ropes. Arresting dynamic fall of lead climber is very difficult. It requires more efforts and force from Belayer compared to other devices. Figure of 8 puts more twist on ropes which makes handling difficult and makes the rope hard in long run. Lot of people complain ropes becoming hard after few uses, trust me it is not the manufacturing fault, if Figure of 8 are not used the rope remains very soft and the life also increases. While using 2 ropes for wind up there are chances of ropes twisting and locking. Chances of larks head and lock are high. Chances of accidental opening of carabiner or loading minor axis of carabiner are high.
Use : Recommended for rappelling and top roping belay.

Note*- UIAA doesn’t recommend use of Figure of 8 descender.

2) Tube Style belay device : Sticht plate is the first design of belay device invented by Fritz Sticht in late 60’s. It was a revolution and made climber’s and belayer’s life much more comfortable. The spring attached behind the Sticht plate helps to cushion the impact to some extent and avoids locking of the belay device. Common brands are Climbing Technology Sticht plate, Cassin Sticht plate and DMM Sticht plate.
Continuous research and development brought Tube Style belay devices to market. These devices form small “S-kink” of rope facilitating better breaking. During the event of fall the friction between rope and the device helps arrest fall. Due to this feature a light weight climber can? hold a fall of an overweight climber. The most popular brand of Tube Style belay devices are Black Diamond ATC XP, Petzl Verso, Omega Pacific SBG, DMM Bug, Singing rock Buddy and Grivel Master.

Pros : Light weight and compact.
Cons : Lacks the feature of Auto-Block belay. Difficult to belay using beefier ropes.
Use : Recommended for sports climbing, top roping and rappelling with single and two ropes.

3) Auto-block belay device : These belay devices are modified Tube style belay devices. They have an additional feature of auto block to hold the fall of following climber. This feature automatically locks the ropes without any intervention from belayer.
Pros: Belayer can relax while belaying the follower. Belayer can belay with one hand while organizing equipments for the next pitch/ take pictures, eat/ drink water. The belayer need not hold the rope tightly in case the following climber is suspended on rope. The belayer can lower the following climber without losing control of belay. The Auto-block belay device can also be used for hauling the climber in case of fall/ rescue. Useful piece for making ratchet while using “Z Pulley” during rescue. The belayer can belay directly from the anchor/ master point without taking load of climber on waist. Two followers can be belayed simultaneously without compromising safety. Black Diamond ATX Guide, Petzl Reverso4, Grivel Master Pro, Mad Rock Aviator and Edelrid Jul are some of the popular Auto-block Belay devices.
Cons : Bit expensive and bulky than Tube style belay devices.
Use : Must have belay device for multi pitch climbing. Ideal for use with two ropes. Recommended for belaying, rescue and rappelling.

4) Assisted Belay device : Assisted Belay device are completely automatic belay devices. They hold the fall of lead climber without the belayer’s intervention. Edelrid Eddy, CAMP Matik, Petzl Grigri, Fader Sum, Trango Cinch, Mammut Alpine Smart Belay device, CAMP Axel, Mammut Smart belay device, Wild Country SRC are few Assisted Belay devices. Most of the above mentioned belay devices has a cam which pinch the rope in case of fall.
Pros : Belayer can belay for long duration without getting stressed out. These belay devices helps the belayer to hold fall of the lead climber without any efforts. It can be used for big routes where belaying is a tedious job. It is also good for belaying a climber working on route. Can be used to ascend fix ropes in tandem of single ascender. Ascending descending fixed ropes is less time consuming and safe. Useful for making ratchet in “Z pulley” and hauling climber in case of an accident.
Cons : Heavy, bulky and expensive. If the cam is pressed in panic the climber may hit the ground. Holds the fall immediately resulting static belay which put tremendous amount of impact on climber, rope, anchor and belayer. CAMP Matik is exception to the above. It is dynamic belay device and reduces impact up to 40% in case of Fall Factor 1. Not useful for belay or rappel with two ropes.
Use : Recommended for sports climbing, big routes and rescue.

Hope the above write up has brought some clarity and will help to select belay device for specific use."


4-Sept-2014

"Some facts & figures!!!!

During many workshops I conducted on belaying, rescue, building belay stations, placing protections everytime people asked me about breaking strength of climbing and static ropes. It is very difficult to have actual facts & fgures as lot of factors affect the breaking strength of the rope in actual senario for example age of rope, wet ropes are weaker than dry ropes, ropes exposed to UV rays for prolonged duration, contact with chemicals/ acids, frayi...ng etc.

Recently Kollin P (Technical Director) of Black Diamond Equipments USA did some test at their test lab. Though tests were done in lab minute details were taken care to simulate actual senario. The finding were as follows:
1) Strongest knot Figure of 8 (between 75% to 80%)
2) Weakest knot Clove Hitch (between 60% to 65%)
Other knots breaking strength between 65% to 75%.

Even though Clove Hitch is the weakest knot most of the renowned guides, instructors and climbers use it at places where there could be intense load/ shock load like belay stations. My questions to the members of this group:
1) Why Clove Hitch is so popular?
2) Would you guys use Clove Hitch in future after knowing the fact that it is the weakest knot compared to Fig of 8 or Butterfly? If yes, then why?

I request everyone to write in brief and be specific with examples if required. The above two questions are asked in context of multi pitch climbing. Plz ensure we do not discuss about rappelling events, tyrolean traverse, high/ low rope course, glacier travel etc.

Excited to read everyone's views! "

17-Apr-2014

" Last few days I was wondering if brand loyalty is good when it comes to buying climbing equipments? There are hundreds of companies who manufacture N number of climbing equipments. For example climbing Harness (type C), let us be specific to draw quality outcomes. Request all to comment on the following 2 questions:

1) Shall we be loyal to popular brands even if the SKU/ PPE doesn't suffice the purpose or shall we look for brands which are not ...so popular but sell certified equipments specific to our requirements?

2) While buying the equipment how do we zero down on a specific SKU/ PPE? OR We buy equipment just because a so called ROLE MODEL is using the same PPE in a popular video?

Request all to write in brief and be specific to the questions.

31-Jul-2013

" Nylon and Dyneema webbings comparison.....

Nylon (polyamide) and Dyneema (polyethylene) are two synthetic raw materials with distinct strengths and weaknesses used in the manufacture of slings and quickdraws. Understanding the properties of these man-made fibres will guide us to best practice at the crag for using such products.

While Dyneema has a much greater strength-weight ratio (static load) than nylon, its elasticity is far less....
Even a 60 cm fall-factor 1 fall on to an open Dyneema sling can generate enough impact force (16.7 kN) at the anchor to pull a nut 11 wire (12 kN) apart. Tying a knot in a Dyneema sling/webbing weakens it even further leading to sling/webbing failure in a fall-factor 1 loading on to a 120 cm sling/webbing.

For perspective, most leader falls are between 4 – 7 kNs. Forces above 10kN will start to cause internal injuries – 10kN equates to 1 metric tonne in ‘layman's term’.

While the impact forces in the tests for the nylon slings are lower than the Dyneema they were still high enough to snap wires. This isn’t to say Dyneema is bad and nylon is good. On the contrary, comparing the two materials, Dyneema has a strength to weight ratio higher than not just nylon but also steel, a significantly higher resistance to cutting and lower water absorbtion (important in wet conditions), making it an ideal material for slings and quickdraws. It is also more resistant to ultra-violet rays and chemical attack than nylon but has a lower melting point. This is an important factor to consider when abseiling – pulling a rope through a Dyneema sling, say as in poor abseiling practice, will generate enough heat to severely weaken the sling, if not melt through it.

It’s knowing these properties and making an informed choice according to your needs as a climber that is important. Clearly, taking advantage of the shock-absorbing capability of the rope by using it to tie directly into anchors as opposed to using a sling, will reduce the chances of dramatically shock-loading the anchors. If you do use slings then ensuring there is no slack in the system is paramount.

It is also important to bear in mind that the characteristics of slings and quickdraws are also affected by the weave and blending of fibres, purposefully used to achieve particular handling qualities. Dyneema slings are in fact usually a blend of nylon and Dyneema fibres. "

1-Jul-2013


Monsoon has begun and we have started exploring beautiful mountains covered with lush green forest and clouds. Sitting on a ridge or a cliff with friends and enjoying the shower and clouds passing through is a memorable experience. Everyone enjoys it, isn’t it? Who can think of any risk at this moment? Any one………….. Lightning is a biggest hazard which cannot be predicted nor controlled. It is the most dangerous element of nature. Being in outdoors during lightning or thunderstorm is like sitting on a bomb. Lighting carries high voltage and tremendous heat which can burn anything on its way (Lightning can burn a truck into ashes).

Lightning happens due to Cumulonimbus clouds which carries water and +/- charges to trigger lightning. If the there is accumulation of Cumulonimbus clouds that means it is going to rain and exposing yourself could be dangerous. If the thunder happens within 30 seconds after lightning that means the storm is 10kms from your location which is not safe. If the lightning flash is seen but thunder is not heard that means the storm is far away (20kms or more) from your location and it is a safe zone, but storm can travel at a fast pace and reach your location within minutes. So look for ideal locations and make yourself safe. Ideally when you can see the lightning flash and cannot hear the thunder that means you are in a safe zone which is more than 20kms away from storm.

We learn knots, rope management, first aid, map reading but hardly give importance to lightning which is a very hazardous element in mountains especially during monsoon. Has anyone thought of any hazard from lightning or precautions to be taken while trekking during monsoon? If not then let us think carefully and read the below guidelines to enjoy trekking during monsoon and still being safe:

1. Check weather reports before going outdoors. Avoid going outdoors at time of spring tides especially in Kokan areas. Neap tides are safer compared to spring tides. (Refer to Hindu calender).
2..Do not climb uphill to the highest mountain, ridge, pinnacle, tree if there is storm close by. Stay away from the highest structure in that area. Small caves or overhanging structures could be dangerous location. Staying outside would be preferred. Don’t stand close to the highest structure as charge can strike even when grounded.
3. Do not swim or go close to any water body such as water fall, river, lakes, streams, water tanks on forts. Water is a good conductor of electricity. Lightning will strike a wet body first.
4. Do not climb down to valley or depression which is the lowest point of the of that area.
5. Avoid routes in gullies, nala or water stream. Choose a dry and clear route.
Switch off all your electronic gadgets like cel phone, Mp3 Players, walkie talkie or camera. Cel phone on stand by mode can attract charge. Switch off your cel phone before starting a trek.
6. Do not stay in large crowd. Splitting into smaller groups is a better idea.
7. If the storm is too close do not panic and sit in a crouch position. Do not lie down. While crouching do not keep your hands or hips on the ground. Only feet should be in contact with the ground.Keep your hands on knees. Try to make yourself as small as possible. Sitting on carry mat or sack could be a good idea in case the ground is wet. (This position has helped us at Duke's Nose last month where lightning had struck a solar panel just 20ft away from us still we were safe because we had kept all the equipments away from us in a backpack and sitting in a crouch position. Kiran Khalap can advocate).
8. Do not carry metal water bottles, walking sticks, climbing equipments unless required. In case of storm keep all metal objects far away.
9. Do not take shelter in a vehicle if it is parked in open area which is exposed to lightning. Parked vehicles under electric pylons or HT / HV wires could be dangerous. (HT wires at Naneghat pleatue or the metal railing and temple at Duke's Nose also can attract lightning.)

While trekking it is responsibility of every member of the group to be vigilant and look for safe route and places to retreat during storm. Back up plans should be well in place. It is the leader's duty to add above points or club safety norms during the brief / introduction session before the trek starts.

Remember "Safety never has holiday.... Safety is 100% or 0%..... It cant be in between......

Wish you all happy outdoors.........

26-May-2013

" Few years back we went for climbing and camped near a small village near Shivtharghal in Raigad district. We used water from nearby source for cooking and drinking. Next day entire team was suffering from diarrhea and vomiting, immediately we found the water is contaminated. Contaminated water is very difficult to identify as the bacteria are not visible without microscope. Since that time I was trying to contact various mountain guides and experts for precautions to be taken while in outdoors but in vain. Tried to gather information given below from various mountain guides.

(REQUEST EVERYONE TO CONSULT PHYSICIAN OR EXPERTS BEFORE EXPERIMENTING ANY OF THE BELOW SOLUTION. PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE CAREFULLY AND TRY TO TEST THE SOLUTIONS GIVEN IN ARTICLE BEFORE GOING IN OUTDOORS. THIS WILL HELP YOU TO CONSULT A DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY IF ANY ALLERGY IS OBSERVED).

Water Purification

Dipping your head into a cold mountain stream and taking a long refreshing drink is an experience that has basically vanished from the wilderness areas due to over exploitation of mother nature. With the increased use of the wilderness there has also been an increase in the amount of bacterial contamination of backcountry water supplies. The USEPA has reported that 90% of water is contaminated in some way. There are a variety of microscopic organisms that can contaminate water supplies and cause potentially serious, even fatal, illnesses among wilderness travelers. The most common danger in the backcountry from these infections is fluid loss due to diarrhea and vomiting. Excess fluid loss can be fatal if not controlled well in time.

To drink water, one should be prepared to treat it. There are numerous methods of water purification, but infections can also be spread through poor personal hygiene, something that purifying water won’t prevent.

Biologically Contaminated vs. Toxic Water

Biologically contaminated water is water that contains microorganisms, bacteria, or viruses that can lead to infections.
Toxic water sources contain chemical contamination from pesticide runoffs, mine tailings, and so on. Boiling, filtering, or chemically treating water can remove or kill microorganisms, but it will not remove chemical toxins.

Boiling
Boiling is the most certain way of killing all microorganisms. Water temperatures above 70° C kill all germs, virus, bacteria and fungus within 30 minutes and above 85° C within a few minutes. So in the time it takes for the water to reach the boiling point 100° C from 70° C, all germs and bacteria will be killed, even at high altitude. To be extra safe, let the water over boil rapidly for one minute.

Chemical Purification
There are two types of chemical treatment: those using iodine and those using chlorine. Follow the directions on the bottle. Remember that many of the tablets have an expiration date and become ineffective after that point. Also, once the bottle has been opened the tablets must be used within a certain period. When in doubt buy a new bottle. Remember that chemical purification methods may only be partially effective, depending on the water temperature.

General Chemical Treatment Procedures
The effectiveness of all chemical treatment of water is related to the temperature, pH (Lead) level, and clarity of the water. Cloudy water often requires higher concentrations of chemical to disinfect.
If the water is cloudy or filled with large particles, strain it, using a cloth, before treatment. Large particles, if swallowed, may be purified only "on the outside."
Add the chemical to the water and dissolve properly. Splash some of the water with the chemical onto the lid and the threads of the water bottle so that all water areas are treated.
The water should sit for at least 30 minutes after adding the chemical to allow purification to occur.
The colder the water, the less effective the chemical is as a purifying agent. If the water temperature is below 4° C, double the treatment time before drinking. It is best if water is at least 16° C before treating. You can place the water in the sun to warm it before treating.

Iodine Treatment
Iodine is light sensitive and must always be stored in a dark bottle. It works best if the water is over 21° C. Iodine has been shown to be more effect than chlorine-based treatments in killing germs and bacteria. Be aware that some people are allergic to iodine and cannot use it for water purification. People suffering from thyroid should stay miles away from iodine. People above fifty years or having any medical history should consult a physician before using iodine for water purification in outdoors.
Also, some people who are allergic to shellfish are also allergic to iodine. If someone cannot use iodine, use either a chlorine-based product or a non-iodine-based filter.

Chlorine Treatment
Chlorine can be used for persons with iodine allergies or restrictions. Remember that water temperature, sediment level, and contact time are all elements in killing microorganisms in the water. Chlorivat is commonly available at all medical shops which is effective most of the times. Keep away from clothes and eyes. It is dangerous in case of direct eye contact.

Tried to provide all details keeping it crisp. For any further information please PM.

Njoy outdoors :):):) "



6-May-2013


"
After so many PM on avoiding bee sting in outdoor, below I have tried to write a crisp article on bees. Bees are most notorious insects found in outdoors. They are responsible for many fatal attacks in Sahyadri range.

I was always fascinated to study behavior of animals, reptiles, insects etc. People always use to tell me reptiles and insects don't have any behavior as their brains are not developed like humans or animals. But always had a feeling that every snake or insect demonstrates different behavioral traits at different time. If we study and understand behavior then outdoor becomes safe. You don't need any other entertainment like music, books, cards etc when you start observing these animals, snakes or insects.

What are bees?
Bees are social insects when provoked can attack ferociously. Their attack is suicidal. Bees die after they attack. Apis cerana (Latin name) and Apis dorsata (Latin Name) are the species found in Sahyadri range. Apis Cerana are yellow and brown in color whereas Apis Dorsata is dark brown and big compared to Apis Cerana. They get carbohydrates from nectar, while protein from pollen.

Habitat....
People wandering in outdoors should always be vigilant. One should keep his/her eyes and ears open in outdoor to prevent bee attack. Bees will attack only to defend their colonies, so be vigilant and look for colonies or swarms. Be alert for bees coming in and out of an rock overhang, opening such as a crack in a rock or in caves. Listen for the "HUMMMM" of an active bee colony. Look for bees in holes in the ground, holes in trees and in sheds.

Alert!!!!!!!!!!!!
Be alert for bees that are acting strangely. Quite often bees will display some warning signs or preliminary defensive behavior before going into a full-fledged attack. They may fly at your face or buzz around over your head. These warning signs should be taken seriously, since the bees may be telling you that you have come into their area and are too close to their colony for comfort both theirs and yours! Any animal, reptile, bird or insect will display a warning alarm before attack. It is important to understand these warning signs.
When in outdoors be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for bees the way you would watch for snakes, scorpions etc. Do not panic if you see bees foraging in the flowers. Bees are generally very docile and wont attack unless provoked.

Behavior....
1. Stay away from nests. Bees consider their nests as their territory. They will defend it at any costs. If you see one stay as far away as possible.
2. Bees will attack all kind of dark colors. Avoid wearing dark and bright colors. Experiments have shown bees have attacked hikers while having lunch. Bees are agitated by shiny utensils. They are also disturbed by food smell.
2. Avoid using any kind of perfumes, aftershaves, deodorants, cologne or soaps when in bees infested areas. Bees are very sensitive to any pleasant or unpleasant odor. Chopped onion smell provokes bees.
3. Any kind of smoke will trigger bees to attack. Avoid smoking nearby bee habitats. Bees are very aggressive when there is forest fire. High temperature during summers also provokes bees. Do not lit stove, gas or fire wood near bee swarms.
4. Keep all your food stuff in air tight bags or lids. Bees are attracted to any unusual smell.
5. Last but very important do not try to kill or bash any bee hovering over your head. Bee secret a pheromone in distress which is a alarming call for other bees to attack.

Preventing bee attack and management.....
1. Prevention is always better than cure. Wear dull color full sleeves shirts and trousers. Do not wear shorts or singlets while in outdoors. Always keep a 2sq. mtrs cloth handy to cover yourself.
2. Bees are very intelligent unlike snakes. Do not try to fool bees by standing still like an object or burning something far from your location to confuse them. When attacked immediately vacate the place and do not waste time in retrieving belongings.
3. Do not jump into water bodies when attacked by bees. It could be dangerous. In some situations if one is not aware of the mud or creepers at the bottom then chances of drowning are very high. Bees are very patient and they can wait for hours hovering over water for you to come out for breath.
4. Escaping is the best way of survival. Bees generally will follow approx 800ft to 100ft. Try to cover maximum distance but at the same time the terrain has to be considered. Be careful of the scree or cliffs. Be vigilant and try to avoid scree slopes or cliff. Run only when the terrain is friendly. Being panic can make the situation worst.
6. Carrying a bee hat is a wise idea. It helps to keep your eyes open but still protected. One can see the hurdles using bee hat while escaping. Towels or blankets wont help while escaping.
7. Do not try to help others when you are not safe. Guide the causalities to a safe area only when you are safe. Do not shout and invite bees to attack yourself.
8. If the local symptoms are seen immediately carry the casualty to medical center. Carrying an anti allergic like Avil is a good idea.

Friends, wanted to restrict this article to 2 or 3 paragraphs but the subject is so vast that cant do justice with 2 or 3 paragraphs. Tried to provide as much information as I have. But practical session makes difference. Maybe Bhramanti will organize a practical session soon for its members on snake bite and bee sting management and first aid. Rajan Rikame as discussed please arrange a session for the same.

Request everyone to provide inputs. Any comments or corrections will be appreciated.

Safe outdoors......."


14-Dec-2012

Important principles of "Leave No Trace" for every outdoor enthusiast before going outdoors... We shall discuss every point in detail if readers are interested....

1) Plan Ahead and Prepare
Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit (National Parks/Reserved forest).
Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
Repackage food to minimize waste.
Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.

2) Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
In popular areas:
Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
In pristine areas:
Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.

3) Dispose of Waste Properly
Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

4) Leave What You Find
Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

5) Minimize Campfire Impacts
Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

6) Respect Wildlife
Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

7) Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.


4-Dec-2012

AVOIDING BLISTERS IN OUTDOORS....

Blisters are truly the curse of any trek. Even a small, tiny blister can grow into an unbearable pain that can cause a miserable trekking trip and force you to walk and/or limp awkwardly back home. So here's some guidelines on how to prevent blisters on a trek.

The most crucial thing to remember about preventing blisters is that it requires a good pair of hiking boots and hiking socks. If one of those two is missing then you might invite blisters to come inside your boot....

Avoiding blisters....
Break in the Boot - Be sure to break in new hiking boots before heading off on a long trip. Even the fabric day hiking boots, which really almost come fully broken in, still need to be stretched out and broken in a bit before they become really comfortable. This is especially true for heavier, leather backpacking boots. So, take the time to walk around in your new hiking boots around home before heading out to the mountains.

Exact Fitting Boot - Preventing blisters really does start with the boot. A poor fitting boot is an invitation to blisters. However, if your hiking boot fits almost fine but causes some hot spots (where the skin gets hot due to the boot rubbing on it) on uphill climbs, a cure for this is to use hiking boot inserts. These inserts are inserted into the bottom of the boot, taking up some of the dead space. Snug fit boots should keep blisters miles away.

Hiking Socks - A Must to use! - Always hike in hiking socks. Never use cotton socks. Cotton socks quickly get wet, bunch up and begin to rub against your skin - causing blisters. Hiking socks, such as the Smartwool/Synthetic Hiking Socks which most of the mountain guides use and highly recommend, are designed to not only provide additional padding for your feet, but to not bunch up and be more of a hindrance than help. Hiking socks are expensive, but at the same time you don't need many pairs. 2 or 3 pairs can suffice your purpose. Consider it as a long term investment for happy trekking.

Liner Socks/ Inner layer - People who sweat more are bound to get blisters in outdoors. Liner socks should also always be worn when trekking. Liner socks, which are made of polypropylene, remove perspiration off your foot and transfer it to your hiking sock. Liner socks are a crucial piece of equipment for preventing blisters on longer treks, as by keeping your foot dry half the battle is won in the war against blisters.

Lace the Boots Properly - Make sure your hiking boot is properly laced. A hiking boot that is not laced tight enough can cause your foot to move around quite a bit. On the other hand, don't lace your boots too tight, as this will cause your feet to swell, which becomes very painful indeed! Try playing around with various degrees of lace tightening/loosening to find the "sweet spot" that keeps the boot from moving around but yet keeps your feet comfortable. And be prepared to adjust the tightness while out on the trail, too, as once you begin hiking you may need to tighten/loosen the boots a bit to get just the right "fit."

Don't Forget the Band-aids/ adhesives and Corncaps - Use band-aid to cover up "hot spots" that can turn into blisters. Adhesive are like a bandage that goes over the blister, preventing the boot/sock from rubbing against it. Even if your hiking boots fit perfectly, always carry band-aid with you. Another thing which may also be easier to get is to invest in a Blister First Aid Kit. These handy first aid kits have the creams, scissors and other helpful things to prevent small blisters from becoming big ones.



May-2010


A brief article published in DNA news paper

Written By : Kaivalya Varma (kaivalyav@bhramanti.com)

Ref Link: Climbing Repository | Anyone wish to add relevant argument/information, please email us at info@bhramanti.com

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