Tag Archives: #BLISS

Mountain Survival

If you live in the mountains, you’re probably aware of the unique hazards associated with this environment. You may get something out of this week’s article but it is meant for people that are either city dwellers or live down in the flat. It will be a big help to the people of California that are trying to escape overhiker the mountains before Governor Moonbeam builds his wall. Seriously though, the effects of altitude on the body, environment and weather make mountain survival truly unique.

If you find yourself having to cross large mountain ranges, stick to the passes or canyons. Figuring that it would be shorter to go over the mountain, rather than around it may be true for birds but unless you’re in an airplane, it’s not so for humans. They may not look steep from a distance and even as you begin scaling them they may not seem bad, until they are.mountain Nonacclimatized individuals rapidly ascending above 3,000 meters (9800 feet) are at risk of developing high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), a life threatening condition where the air pockets in the lungs fill with liquid.

Many people are afraid of bears or mountain lions or wolves or some such animal, that they are going to be attacked or eaten, but you are far more likely to die from the elements. The mountain will kill you before something that lives on the mountain will.

I will include a quick note about wild animals… For the most part they are more afraid of you than you are of them. There are very few actual man eaters in the mountains.mountain-lion-on-rock_jpg_adapt_945_1 Even grizzly bears and mountain lions would much prefer easier prey than humans. That said there’s no sense tempting fate, so when encountered give them a wide berth, but DO NOT run from them. This same advice should include ANY large animals that have young with them. You seriously don’t want to get between momma and her baby! Your food can attract animals, especially meat, so take care to keep any that you may be carrying in airtight wrapping.

Temperature can be a killer on the mountain. During the spring and fall, the daytime temperature can be, depending on altitude, up in the 70’s or 80’s (Fahrenheit) but at night can still get down below freezing. So it’s very important to layer your clothes! If you’ve been out hiking all day and your clothes are sweaty and wet, and then the temperature drops off fast at night you could find yourself in a hypothermia situation.

Weather at high altitude can change rapidly, due in part to the more powerful and steady winds aloft. Also as water vapor forms clouds and is blown across the mountains, even if it doesn’t become a storm,shelter due to the resulting contact with the ground, water condenses on objects making you and your gear wet. As I talk about in The Rule of 3’s, one of the first things you should think about, especially in a mountain environment is protection from the elements. Starting with your clothes, you should have at least 2 ways to stay dry, and a method of building and/or maintaining a shelter.

Another concern is the need for water. The air at high altitude is very dry (when there’s no precipitation present) especially in the winter when the moisture in the air is frozen. This leads to… DON’T EAT THE SNOW! Although it satisfies thecreek need for water, it erodes the need for shelter; in that it lowers the core body temperature and can lead to hypothermia. There is a long running myth that fast moving water is safe to drink, all ground water found in nature should be treated or filtered before consumption. There is the possibility that you will be okay drinking it, however any bacteria present could result in stomach cramps, diarrhea, even parasites. I don’t think I need to tell you that if you’re running from Governor Moonbeam’s stormtroopers, drinking bad water will really slow you down!



The Rule of 3’s


Knowing the rule of 3s, focuses you on your survival priorities. It’s funny in many Hollywood dramas about survival situations, how the characters spend a considerable amount of time and energy pursuing the wrong priorities, and could very well in real life result in their doom.

3 Minutes Without Air; going without air is known as Hypoxia. Hypoxia can be generalized, affecting the whole body or it can be localized to a portion of the body. It can be caused generally in healthy people by being at a high altitude or breathing gasses low in oxygen content. High altitude typically over 8200 ft or 2500 m can cause High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), a life threatening condition resulting in the lungs accumulating fluid. This condition requires immediate medical attention and getting the subject to low altitude.

3 Hours Without Shelter; being without shelter in harsh weather will kill you! The inability to protect the body from cold can result in hypothermia, a condition that occurs when the body’s core temperature drops below 95 degrees. Alternately, hyperthermia is the opposite. When the body takes on more heat than it can dissipate, commonly caused by heat stroke due to prolonged exposure to high heat and/or humidity.

Therefore, in a survival situation establishing shelter should be your first priority! The type of shelter depends on the circumstances. If you’re lost and want to be found, seeking shelter in a manmade structure or high visibility location, using signal fires for warmth/cooking and signaling is the route you want to take. However in an SHTF situation where you are either on the run evading capture or avoiding human contact trying to get to your bugout location and need temporary shelter. Use the SERE acronym BLISS:

Blend in
Low Silhouette
Irregular Shape
Secluded Location

Blend in: use low visibility material and camouflage your shelter with cuttings from the local vegetation. Construct it in a shadowy/low lying area (not a dry wash if rain is likely) away from roads and trails. Humans are basically lazy and won’t go into hard to access places without good reason.
Low Silhouette: keep your shelter low to the ground, waist high or below, preferably knee high. Avoid high ground, stay in or near the bottom of hills/draws/hollows. If you are halfway up a hill but low to the ground, you are still head height to someone standing below you.
Irregular Shape: regular geometric shapes are very noticeable to the human eye and indicate a manmade structure. Be mindful not only of how your shelter looks close up but also from a distance and from above. Looking down on a square tarp from a hilltop or from the air would be a dead giveaway!
Size: make a shelter just big enough to do the job, keep it small! If you’re with your family, consider making multiple small shelters instead of a single large one. This is to protect you from the elements while you rest or lay low during high enemy activity not a place to sit around and play cards, so big enough for one or two people to lay down and rest.
Secluded Location: stay away from buildings, roads and trails. Avoid clearings and high ground, in times of bright sun light, avoid casting shadows when possible.

3 Days Without Water; while it is true there are cases of people living without water for a week, this is NOT an area you want to experiment around with. Our bodies are 65% water and dehydration has serious physical consequences, some of its symptoms are: weakness, sluggishness, confusion, and fainting. When on the move trying to avoid detection, I definitely don’t want to feel sluggish, weak and confused… STAY HYDRATED! Water collection methods and sources will depend on your environment and will have a future article devoted to it. However for now, suffice it to say keep a personal water filter and chemical water purifying pills in your bugout bag. Boiling water is also an option, however should be avoided when on the move as fires will attract attention.

3 Weeks Without Food; although food is the least critical of our necessities, it is no less important. When we go without food our bodies go into starvation mode and begin to store fat and metabolize our muscle tissue. It can also result in physical weakness and dehydration. When at our shelter in place or our bugout locations, considerable time and resources can be devoted to the hunting and gathering of food, however if our transit time is less than a few days, hunting and cooking is not practical and the cooking fire could have a more detrimental effect than a few days without eating.

In short, if an SHTF situation should catch you traveling on foot in hostile or potentially hostile territory. If you’re having difficulty breathing due to altitude, all effort should be focused on getting to a lower altitude. If you can breath, shelter when the local population is active and travel when they are less active. Establish your shelter with consideration for the acronym BLISS, near a reliable water source. If you can get to your destination in a few days and a food source isn’t readily available, forgo it, however if the travel will be extended, attempt to find a food source that doesn’t require cooking.