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Thread: What's the Number 1 greatest risk in the Alaskan Back-country?

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    Default What's the Number 1 greatest risk in the Alaskan Back-country?

    What do you think is the number 1 greatest risk in the Alaskan Back-country, for hikers, backpackers and general outdoorsmen?

    And what's the best solution to reducing/avoiding that risk?

    Appreciate everyone's thoughts.

  2. #2
    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    Greatest Risk: Stupidity/Inexperience.

    Solution: Education/Experience.
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.” ― H.S.T.
    "Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you."

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Hypothermia is without a doubt the #1 risk. It's generally caused by getting wet and not having a good way to get dry and/or not having proper gear for the weather. The best way to reduce the risk is to have weather-appropriate gear, knowing when it's best to hunker down and wait out the weather, and having the knowledge and materials to get dry and warm after an unintended soaking/chilling.

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    ...Exposure... and it's results
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and don’t have one, you’ll probably never need one again

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    Premium Member denalihunter's Avatar
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    Injuries to ankle and legs. These types will keep you from going to far.

    Solution: Quality boots with good ankle support and wear pants, not shorts.
    Experience Real Alaska! www.alpinecreeklodge.com

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snyd View Post
    ...Exposure... and it's results
    that includes mosquitos.. and sleeping with screen open..
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

    meet on face book here

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Without a doubt, in my mind, It's Getting Wet,...without an effective plan for getting dry again
    and this is really a constant deal requires your attention at all times

    #2 getting in a hurry, trying to make something happen

    All Solutions, really need to be independent of saving yourself by fire, or helicopter, etc.
    in other words,

    "it's all about the gear you wear and carry in your pack to change into, needs to be able to do it all for you"

    I do pay a lot of attention to my ankles and knees also,
    as I believe I need to be able to get myself out,.... if at all possible
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    My first exposure to the Alaskan wilderness was 30 years ago on Adak. Pre goretex days. We had 501 Levis, poly pro, wool and if you had some money you had full Hellies. We never had an issue with being wet since we were wet all the time when outside. If things got bad we found shelter in our tents, or one of the wooden survival tanks scattered across the island.

    However, we were experienced enough to get home if things went from just "unpleasant" to "we are going to die." Knowing the difference and how fast it changes only comes from having experienced it.

    After thinking about this question, and wandering through various stories, one of the biggest safety issues boils down to critical thinking. The ability to solve problems before they actually become real problems.

    You can't call 911 while in the back country. If you screw up with a knife and slice your leg or arm open in town you call 911 and within 20 minutes or so someone should be there helping you. Do the same thing while enjoying Gates of the Arctic and you are dead long before anyone shows up from the RCC.

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    Member EagleRiverDee's Avatar
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    I agree with the others- exposure/hypothermia, primarily due to getting wet.

    1) Don't wear cotton.
    2) Have adequate outerwear and I recommend always having a winter cap and gloves or mittens regardless of time of year.
    3) Have a means to get dry and warm up. This might mean carrying a change of clothes, the means to build a fire, a stove to prepare a hot meal, hand warmers, a combination of these or other ideas. But have a plan.

    The only time I've ever had a bad experience was on a hiking trip up Blacktail with the intent to camp overnight. It was a beautiful sunny day in July and a then a freak rain/snowstorm hit us. Visibility went to 10' in a matter of minutes. I got soaked, I was wearing all cotton and my sleeping bag was in a non-waterproof stuff sack at the top of my pack. It got soaked. The temps dropped to freezing. I got hypothermia (mild) and spent a miserable night in a wet bag. Lesson learned. No more cotton. Clothes and sleeping bag go in waterproof stuff sacks. Always have a hat and gloves because it can snow in July.
    "If snowmachiners would adopt the habits of riding one at a time and not parking at the base of avalanche prone slopes, the number of fatalities would likely be whittled by at least a third, if not by half." ~ Jill Fredston, in the book Snowstruck, In The Grip Of Avalanches.

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    Member tustumena_lake's Avatar
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    Feeling pressured for time and taking risks you wouldn't normally take because you feel you have to be back at work on XXXX morning. You're better off to be late, than never come back at all. You're better off to not go if the weather window is poor, just stay put.

    Hikers in the fog pushing their luck along a cliff, boaters that should be on shore out in the rough, outdoorsmen racing down the highway on a Friday night trying to get to their favorite place. Slow down.

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    I goint to have to go with Hippy on this one and say inexperience.. Experience will keep you from putting yourself into bad situations...

    Knowledge is a wonderful tool when used properly......

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bear View Post
    Knowledge is a wonderful tool when used properly......
    WELL! i sorta gotta disagree... to a teeny bit... there are an awful lot of educated, knowledgble people... that can,t tell the north end of them self from the south end... when they are sitting on it..

    Academics i think they are called... they may know what to do.. but when it don't do what it SUPPOSED to do... then theres the problem..
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

    meet on face book here

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bear View Post
    I goint to have to go with Hippy on this one and say inexperience.. Experience will keep you from putting yourself into bad situations...

    Knowledge is a wonderful tool when used properly......
    Ultimately, experience often comes from learning from bad choices. I certainly have made a few terrible choices, but thankfully I was able to extricate myself from those situations. Nobody starts out experienced - hence the value in conversations like these so that others can learn from the more experienced.

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Yeah, I hesitate to put too much on the idea of experience also, cause of the ever changing nature of it all

    Must be something in the middle, like "Wits," might describe it best,
    that is a combination of taking your experience and knowledge along, but keeping it all in your back pocket

    remaining as flexible as you can to something you never expected,...

    I like to call it, "paying attention," when reminding myself how to stay out of trouble

    and the cool thing is I think young guys, can pull it off just as well,.....never stop looking around/learning

    I sure survived more than a few of those "Pre-Hypertex cloth" days,...somehow,...
    lots of wool, I guess, and plastic raingear, and teethgritting,....what fun that was,....but I sure like the new stuff
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    Ultimately, experience often comes from learning from bad choices. I certainly have made a few terrible choices, but thankfully I was able to extricate myself from those situations. Nobody starts out experienced - hence the value in conversations like these so that others can learn from the more experienced.
    Absolutely experience is gained many ways be it a good book,hunting or camping with a friend, passed down from father to son and yes from listening to stories of those who have learned the hard way is at the top of the list...

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by tustumena_lake View Post
    Feeling pressured for time and taking risks you wouldn't normally take because you feel you have to be back at work on XXXX morning. You're better off to be late, than never come back at all. You're better off to not go if the weather window is poor, just stay put.

    Hikers in the fog pushing their luck along a cliff, boaters that should be on shore out in the rough, outdoorsmen racing down the highway on a Friday night trying to get to their favorite place. Slow down.
    +1 on that. And NO PFD when on water, or even near water.

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    Member cdubbin's Avatar
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    Getting wet really isn't that dangerous unless the temps are quite low; on a climb in the Kenai range, our group got so wet by the time we got back to the beach some of us went ahead and jumped in the surf, boots and all, for a swim. Wasn't much diff between before/after, and sure was refreshing! Got back to camp a few hours later and dried out, no big deal. Been wet plenty of times, in jeans too. I think the single most dangerous thing you can do is fail to leave a travel plan and itinerary with someone; Google "dumb-azz who had to cut his own arm off" if you don't believe me
    "– Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg

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    Member Bsj425's Avatar
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    I was going to say HAARP getting turned on and getting sucked into the atmosphere?

    solution:

    add a chin strap to your tin foil hat so it doesnt fall off.

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    Member Dirtofak's Avatar
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    Banjos.....Definitely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EagleRiverDee View Post
    I agree with the others- exposure/hypothermia, primarily due to getting wet.
    The only time I've ever had a bad experience was on a hiking trip up Blacktail with the intent to camp overnight. It was a beautiful sunny day in July and a then a freak rain/snowstorm hit us. Visibility went to 10' in a matter of minutes. I got soaked, I was wearing all cotton and my sleeping bag was in a non-waterproof stuff sack at the top of my pack. It got soaked. The temps dropped to freezing. I got hypothermia (mild) and spent a miserable night in a wet bag. Lesson learned. No more cotton. Clothes and sleeping bag go in waterproof stuff sacks. Always have a hat and gloves because it can snow in July.
    Some friends and I went up Black Tail in mid May. That was a cold night, and due to the wonderful idea of using my backpack as a sled down part of the mountain, I also slept in a wet bag. Fun as that was, I won't be repeating the experience any time soon.

    I also agree with the prevailing themes of "take your time" and "stay dry and warm." I read in an ADN article not too long ago that the state has compiled fatality crash rates on the Seward and found a strong corollary between good salmon runs and fatal crashes. Insofar as staying warm, well, I can vouch that it gets pretty miserable if you get wet and cold for too long.

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