Feedbacks from the workshop in Puerto Natales, 23 April 2019

Notes from Claudio Aguayo

Risk Factors in Patagonia

  • The wind is the worst
  • Cold
  • Rivers growing
  • Stone avalanche when snow melting
  • Bad weather
  • Patagonia is low altitude but a cause of weather we get bad conditions similar to high altitude
  • Patagonia in the last 20 years 3 climbers killed due to rock falls
  • Atacama desert is good for high altitude
  • Most people here climb inside PNTP. If more people were to climb other spots in Patagonia, maybe avalanche risks will be more prominent and common
  • In Chile, Volcán Osorno is the spot with most deaths, and it’s only 2800m and there’s been like 35 deads in the past 20 yrs
  • In Patagonia there’s no rescue team, no helicopter.. Rescue in the park works as a community of friends, WhatsApp group of 30-40 climbers and support between each other
  • In Chile GOPE (Police) takes control of accidents and they even stop local climbers assisting that can be better prepared
  • 50 local climbers in Natales at different levels

Patagonia app needs

  • To have one app for checking all weather conditions. Currently, we have to check like 10 different apps to have an understanding of the weather forecast
  • App to work as an online community where the local community can be in touch and everyone knows who is climbing and what are the latest risks
  • App to work online and offline

Jin VR App idea

  • Training: Basic things to know when going to a high mountain environment
  • Feedback: If an app had a key local info in VR, that would be amazing!

11 Congreso de Investigación Turística de Chile 24 al 26 de abril, 2019 Congreso de Investigación Turística de Chile, data collection and focus group meeting

Attended 11 Congreso de Investigación Turística de Chile 24 al 26 de Abril, 2019.  I presented my research topic on the 25th of April and valuable feedback from local audiences and had initial contacts for further research.

Our group did data collection in Grey Glacia in Torress Del Paine helped by Big Foot mountain guide company. We captured Drone footage, 360 – degree videos, high quality still images of crevasses and glacier serac.


After three days of data collection, we had a focus group meeting with local mountain climbers and guides. They gave us risk factors for climbers in Patagonia. The notorious weather pattern in Patagonia is the main risk factor for all climbers and trampers. They want to learn and understand rapid weather changes in Patagonia using the app. They agreed to try our first prototype app when it is ready and give us feedback.


Drone footage of Grey Glacia

Hallucinatory experiences and summit fever in extreme-altitude climbers

I found that there are several studies of processes occurring during climbing including the cognitive deficit, emotional changes and hallucinations at high altitude.

Peter Brugger (1999) in his article “Hallucinatory experiences in extreme-altitude climbers” insisted that “there is anecdotal evidence for a high incidence of anomalous perceptual experiences during mountain climbing at high altitude” (p. 66).

He had a structured interview with eight high altitude climbers who have reached the altitude above 8500 m without supplementary oxygen. The results from interviews showed that most climbers have hallucinatory experience during climbing at high altitudes, and apart from cerebral hypoxia, social deprivation, physical exhaustion, hypothermia, dehydration, lack of sleep, hypoglycaemia from food deprivation and acute stress seem to play a role in the genesis of these experiences.

Also, many high-altitude climbers have summit fever which is an anticipation to reach the summit disregarding safety, and ethics, among other things. When the climbers get summit fever, it clouds the climbers’ the decision-making process.

Tempest and co-authors (2007) quotes Krakauer’s “Into the thin air” in their article In the Death Zone- A study of limits in the 1996 Mount Everest disaster”

“the sort of individual who is programmed to ignore personal distress and keep pushing for the top is frequently programmed to disregard signs of grave and imminent danger as well. This forms the nub of a dilemma that every Everest climber eventually comes up against: in order to succeed you must be exceedingly driven, but if you’re too driven you’re likely to die. Above 26,000 feet . . . the line between appropriate zeal and reckless summit fever becomes grievously thin. Thus the slopes of Everest are littered with corpses.” (Krakauer, 1997: 233)


Brugger, P., Regard, M., Landis, T., & Oelz, O. (1999). Hallucinatory experiences in extreme-altitude climbers. Neuropsychiatry Neuropsychology and Behavioral Neurology, 12(1), 67-71.

Carol L. Gohm (2001). Personality in Extreme Situations: Thinking (or Not) under Acute Stress. Journal of Research in Personality 35, 388–399 doi:10.1006/jrpe.2001.2321,  available online at

Greig, A. (1985). Summit fever : the story of an armchair climber on the 1984 Mustagh Tower expedition (3375842). London: Hutchinson.

Greig, A. (1997). Summit fever : an armchair climber’s init[i]ation to Glencoe, mortal terror and ʻThe Himalayan Matterhornʾ (1204221, Rev. ed.). Seattle: Mountaineers.

Tempest, S., Starkey, K., & Ennew, C. (2007). In the death zone: A study of limits in the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. Human Relations, 60(7), 1039-1064.


Mountain Safety literature review

There are a few pieces of literature I read in relation to mountain safety in high altitude.

1. Accessibility of mountaineering in high altitude mountain ranges are limited. Michale Apollo insists that for mountaineering, there are two accessibility factors.

  • Destination accessibility (the transport system and the components of infrastructure)
  • Real access – social, economic, weather and psychophysical environments

2. The value of life: Real risks and safety-related productivity

According to Goucher and Horrace, expeditions from 1987 to 2007, deaths can occur for a variety of reasons – avalanches, falls, high altitudes sickness (heart attack, stroke, cerebral edema and pulmonary edema), weather conditions related to death (hypothermia, blindness and frostbites).

“The 32 Everest expeditions in our data faced three-year average frequencies of 6.56 deaths in about 751 lives at risk for a death rate of 0.87%. The point is that deaths are fairly common, so our fatality rates, based on three-year moving averages, are potentially fairly precise”.

3. Lesson learned from avalanche survival patterns

Haegeli and co-authors point out that asphyxia was the most common cause of death during avalanche burial, especially in wetter and denser snow in CMAJ. They report survival curves from data for 301 complete avalanche burials in Canada from 1980 to 2005 and compare them with the standard survival curve derived from Swiss data for 946 complete burials during the same period. It shows that survival of more than 90% of people in the first 15 to 20 minutes of burial, followed by a steep decline in survival of 35% from 20 to 35 minutes of burial. They insist that prompt extrication with 10 minutes is crucial in avalanche survival.

4. Prediction of acute mountain sickness by monitoring arterial oxygen saturation during ascent

Karinen and co-authors found that the climbers who maintain their oxygen saturation at rest, especially with exercise, most likely do not develop AMS. They suggest that daily evaluation of Spo₂ (arterial oxygen saturation) and during ascent both at rest and during exercise can help to identify a population that does well at altitude. The authors recommend that the climbers take R-Spo2 (arterial oxygen saturation at rest) and Ex-Spo2 (arterial oxygen saturation after exercise) measurements to avoid AMS during the ascent.

5. Mountaineering and high mountain adventure tourism

According to Beedie and Hudson (2003), today, mountaineering in high altitude is no longer restricted to experienced mountaineers.  The boundaries between mountaineering and tourism are increasingly blurred due to the diversification and commercialization of mountaineering.

6. Safer mountain climbing using the climbing heartbeat index

Sakai and Nose use CHI (the climbing heartbeat index) to prevent acute mountain sickness (AMS). They developed a method of planning a climb according to the climber’s heart rate and the climber’s fitness level. They believe CHI value takes a very important part in safe mountaineering.

Click to access 10.1007%2Fs00484-003-0167-1.pdf

7. Use of a hypobaric chamber for pre-acclimatization before climbing Mount Everest

Richalet and coauthors recommend the climbers take pre-acclimatization experience before they climb Mt Everest to save 1 to 3 weeks of time in mountain conditions. They found that the pre-acclimatization period showed a 12% increase in hemoglobin concentration and no change in ventilatory response to hypoxia. It shows an efficient ventilatory acclimatization.


Apollo, M. (2017). The true accessibility of mountaineering: The case of the High Himalaya. Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism-Research Planning and Management, 17, 29-43.

Goucher, J., & Horrace, W. C. (2012). The value of life: Real risks and safety-related productivity in the Himalaya. Labour Economics, 19(1), 27-32.

Karinen, H. M., Peltonen, J. E., Kahonen, M., & Tikkanen, H. O. (2010). Prediction of acute mountain sickness by monitoring arterial oxygen saturation during ascent. High Alt Med Biol, 11(4), 325-332.

Parati, G., Bilo, G., Faini, A., Bilo, B., Revera, M., Giuliano, A., . . . Mancia, G. (2014). Changes in 24 h ambulatory blood pressure and effects of angiotensin II receptor blockade during acute and prolonged high-altitude exposure: a randomized clinical trial. European Heart Journal, 35(44), 3113-+.

Richalet, J. P., Bittel, J., Herry, J. P., Savourey, G., Le Trong, J. L., Auvert, J. F., & Janin, C. (1992). Use of a hypobaric chamber for pre-acclimatization before climbing Mount Everest. Int J Sports Med, 13 Suppl 1, S216-220.

Sakai, A., & Nose, H. (2003). Safer mountain climbing using the climbing heartbeat index. Int J Biometeorol, 48(1), 15-19.