When Tree Climbers Get Wet in Winter
If you get wet while tree climbing in winter, you need to move quickly. There is no time to waste if you did not dress properly and shelter is not nearby. Hopefully you ate a nutritious meal before you started out. If you were smart, you brought a high-energy snack with you. Start eating in nibbles because you will need the extra energy to keep your body heat up.
Leave your rope behind if you must travel any distance on foot. Sure, you paid good money for it, but your well-being is worth more than that hundred or so dollars. Besides, who in the world would want to swipe a soggy rope, anyway? You can go back for it later.
The important thing is to get to warm shelter and put on dry clothing as soon as possible. You do not want to wait for hypothermia symptoms to set in, one of which is the loss of mental functions. Now is not the time to lose it.
I remember one time when I intentionally went out to a wet area in below freezing temperatures. I had a new set of Gore-Tex boots and I wanted to give them a try. So I and a climbing buddy went out into a wetland area in the dead of winter. I stepped onto a patch of ice over ground and broke through. Water poured into my right boot.
Our climbing tree was in sight. It was a really large tulip tree. But I was starting to lose sensation in my right foot. A few minutes later I could barely feel my foot. It was time to leave.
We were a mile away from our vehicle. Now every step became difficult. The fact that I had a 40-pound pack on my back made it even harder to walk. I should have left the pack behind. What would have taken us half an hour took an hour to get out. By the time we got to our vehicle, my foot was totally numb. It took hours to feel normal sensations again.
Most of the time you can avoid this kind of exposure. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself.
- Check the weather forecast before you go out.
- Dress appropriately.
- Let others know where you are going if you are climbing alone.
- Exit your tree quickly if it starts raining.
- Bring a change of dry clothing with you.
- Have plenty of food to eat that is high in sugars.