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The Screaming Barfies – Debunked

Your friend is keeled over, hands outstretched, and screaming at his/her open palms.

Grab the Holy Water, shit is about to get real!!

So what is this mystical phenomena?

When blood flow to the hands is interrupted, the resulting nonfunctional nerves create the sensation of numbness. The subsequent pain is associated with reperfusion (return of blood flow) to the hands and nerves. Upon reoxygenation of these nerves, pain signals are transmitted to the central nervous system. In other words, when the blood returns, it re-awakens the nerve endings, and hurts like mad.

How to avoid this?

The onset of ‘The Screaming Barfies’ luckily is not instaneous and can often be mitigated fairly quickly and effectively when following a few steps.

  • Try to avoid the kungfu grip on your axes, which is massively limiting the blood supply to your hands.
  • At the first onset of numbness, shake it out and take up to 15 seconds per hand.
  • Change gloves if you get the chance. Make sure to always bring an extra pair of semi-thick gloves (I keep mine zipped in my jacket) so you can change gloves if all else fails.
  • If all else fails, climb until the next belay and make sure your friends are not around so you can cry in solitude.
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Snow Travel and Lowering

Some of the takeaways from our training included:

  • Review video for lowering scenario, assist and rescue at this link.
  • Watch the videos on focal point knotsrope-work (including muling the munter), and a video on the 3 wrap prussic.
  • Make sure to choose an appropriate location to set up the 2-point anchor in regards to keeping a possible rescue in mind. Stay at least 2-3 meters from the edge.
  • One of the easiest strategies for rescuing a person is muling the munter, since it allows you to be hands free while the rescue setup occurs. More advanced strategies like blocking the munter with a carabiner, using a RollnLock, or any other scenario should be secondary to the standard mule.
  • In regards to snow travel – Make sure to bring a probe and do your best travel along the high point of ridges (when on the plateau of Soloheimajokull).
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Prucell Prussic System (Personal Anchor)

The Personal Anchor or “Personal Wanker” as a friend in the Icelandic guiding industry used to say.

The personal anchor can be a very beneficial tool in that it allows you to both secure yourself to an anchor point (bolt or screw) or use it to extend your ATC.

The Prucell Prussic is highly regarded tool due to the fact that it’s adjustable. It takes advantage of the standard 3-wrap prussic we all know so and becomes adjustable by making it on a length length of cordelette.

These are also great lobster claws for clients should you decide to throw down a fixed line.

Here is a simple illustration from the book “Technical Rescue Riggers Guide” by Rick Lipke.

Buy this book with has a massive amount of useful info beyond the Prucell Prussic System it at this link. Its also available for purchase at the Reykjavik Search and Rescue headquarters.

*One must always make sure to have a personal anchor at least 7mm in diameter…and make sure to never let go, or this may happen.