top of page

A Mountaineer's Guide to Wilderness First Aid

Sarah, an experienced mountaineer, was leading a group hike along a ridgeline when disaster struck. A loose rock sent her tumbling several feet, leaving her with a deep gash on her lower leg and an obvious fracture. Miles from the nearest trailhead, the group faced a daunting challenge: manage her injuries until help could arrive.

Mountaineering: When Hikes Can Demand Lifesaving Skills

The beauty of mountaineering lies in its challenge. Yet, remote terrain and unpredictable conditions can amplify the consequences of accidents. A well-stocked mountaineering first aid kit and the skills to use it are essential for any climber or hiker venturing into remote areas.

The Mountaineer's First Aid Kit

A mountaineer's first aid kit must bridge the gap between basic care and handling potentially severe injuries. Alongside the essentials found in a good hiker's kit, consider adding:

  • Advanced Bleeding Control:

  • Multiple tourniquets (in case of multiple injuries or bystander use)

  • Larger gauze pads and rolls

  • Hemostatic agents (e.g., Celox/QuickClot) for severe bleeding

  • Wound Management:

  • Irrigation syringe for thorough cleaning

  • Steri-strips or butterfly closures for larger lacerations

  • Antibiotic ointment

  • Fracture and Sprain Care:

  • SAM Splint (moldable for a variety of breaks)

  • Triangular bandages for slings and immobilization

  • Additional Considerations:

  • Burn gel (campfire accidents)

  • Snake bite kit (region specific)

  • Lightweight hypothermia prevention (foil blanket, hand warmers)

Training Makes the Difference

  • Wilderness First Aid/ First Responder: If you adventure frequently in remote areas, seek out courses tailored to wilderness scenarios where evacuation may be delayed.

  • Practice Makes Perfect: Simulate injuries and practice treatment with your hiking companions.

  • Know Your Limits: When advanced care is needed, don't hesitate to call for search and rescue.

Back to Sarah: Putting the Kit and Skills to Work

Sarah's companions used their kit and training: they controlled the bleeding with a tourniquet and clotting agents, stabilized her fracture, cleaned and dressed the wound, and kept her warm while signaling for help via a satellite communication device. While the ordeal was frightening, their preparation made a huge difference in Sarah's outcome.

Mountaineering demands both physical and mental preparation. Don't let your first aid kit be an afterthought. Assemble yours with the terrain in mind, invest in proper training, and gain the confidence to respond should a beautiful hike take an unexpected turn.

If you would like to read more about First Aid Kits, check the blog post about Building Your First Aid Kit.

Share your mountaineering first aid experiences or additional must-have items in the comments below!


bottom of page