That Time I Fell Down A Mountain And Krazy Glued My Head
That Time I Fell Down A Mountain And Krazy Glued My Head
Adventure Survival Tip #5: Carry Krazy Glue.
Once upon a time, I glissaded down the side of a snowy mountain, lost control, slipped, tried to self-arrest for the first time without any prior practice, split my head open with my ice ax, self-arrested properly the second time around, and preventing myself from serious harm or death. And then my friend used Krazy Glue to “stitch” the gash on my head back together. That’s the gist of this story.
Hiking To Lassen Peak
When my buddy Adam and I do anything, it generally involves one of us getting hurt. He’s a bit of an adventurer and and our male egos grow when we are together. Call it the spirit of competition, or call it a pissing contest, but either way someone gets hurt.
At one of our annual cabin trips, I started doing clapping pull-ups on the 1-inch rim of a doorframe. Adam, having never done clapping pull-ups, told me to step aside and proceeded to clap his way into a broken ankle that he refused to acknowledge despite the heavy limp and drop of tear that squeezed out of his right eye. He drank some whiskey and rode off on his dirt bike.
When I suggested we do a weekend hike, he drove me and his girlfriend at the time, Cathy, 3 hours to Lassen Volcanic National Park, gave us a couple pair of snow shoes and said we’re hiking to the peak. What he probably also should have told us to bring was a pair of crampons or at least some micro-spikes.
Since most of the pass is inaccessible to cars during the winter time, we hiked from the visitor center to our camping spot with the snowshoes. This worked great and we were able to easily make our way over the soft snow distributing our weight over the wide surface of the snowshoes.
As we started to climb up the slopes, the snowshoes didn’t feel so great anymore, requiring us to dig in a bit for traction. As always, going up is usually easier than going down. Cathy grew a little wary just as we were making the approach to the steeper final part of the trek to the top.
It’s All Downhill From Here
Not one to back down for a challenge, I put my concern away, and we all pushed on a bit further. Unfortunately, at one point, we hit more ice patches and made the decision to turn back and make our way back down, satisfied that we went as far as we safely could without the proper gear. With our ice axes, Adam gave us a crash course in glissading, which is where you sit on your butt and slide down a slope in a controlled manner using the ax to create drag in the snow and ice.
Should we slide down too fast, the recovery is to turn around and with one hand on the wider side of the ax, and the other at its base, dig into the ice to self-arrest and slow our slide.
The slopes weren’t too bad, so it was actually quite fun to slide down instead of cautiously stepping down with snowshoes and risk falling. I We spread out and slid down 20-30 feet at time, stopped to rest for a few moments, and repeated the process. This went swimmingly, until it didn’t.
Hit It With The Sharp End
At one point, while resting, I decided to move the ax to the other side to take the stress off one arm. Without any warning, I lost any friction between my butt and the slope and started sliding…fast.
Instinctively, I turned around and slammed the ax into the ice expecting for it to catch. Instead, it bounced right off and hit me right in the head, all the while, my descent continued to pick up speed with no very little friction between my body and the ice. Luckily for me, things slowed down in my head, and I recovered enough to grip the handle with both hands and slam the ax harder into the ice. This time, it caught and I increased the force to eventually slow to a full stop against the less steep part of the slope.
Getting onto my knees, I felt a path of warmth on my head, and pulled off my beanie to see crimson deep drops of blood drip onto the pristine white snow. I put my beanie back on, turned over onto my backside and waited for Adam to get down. Instead of showing concern, Adam, of course, laughs and tells me to take off my beanie so he could take a look.
The laughter died for a moment and the expression on his face did nothing to make me feel better about bleeding from my head on the side of a icy mountain. He tells me the gash is a little over an inch long, but its not so bad. We waited a few minutes for me to collect myself and safely glissaded down the last stretch to where the soft snow started again.
At this point, we weighed the decision to hike back to camp, break down, hike out and drive to the nearest hospital. It would take about 4 hours. The cold had helped the wound to coagulate and stop the bleeding, so Adam had another suggestion – that we go back to camp where he had some Krazy Glue in his pack, in lieu of a first-aid kit which he left in the car, and he could just glue the “little cut” back together. He looked pretty giddy about the whole thing and decided to take off his clothes for the rest of the hike, for no good reason.
I contemplated this stop-gap solution hiking back to camp and somehow got reception to do a quick Google search on “using krazy glue to stitch head”. Surprisingly, this was something that medics did in the field to quick closely up wounds until they could make it back to safety. Of course, they used a version that was medically-approved for the task, and not your off-the-shelf super glue, but in a pinch it should still work.
Please Don’t Shave My Head
Back at camp, Cathy boiled some water so clean out the wound while Adam retrieved the glue, laughing the whole time. I think he was more excited about the prospect of being able to try out the technique than worrying about my injury. I didn’t blame him. I would feel the same way if the roles were reversed.
My only request was that he carefully separate my hair so we would have to shave off a little patch to perform the “surgery”. I know he wanted to shave off a small patch of my hair, but he reluctantly agreed.
Anti-climatically, he pushed together the opening of the, now hopefully clean, cut and applied a line of Krazy Glue along it, leaving a couple of millimeters opened just in case any infections developed. He was done within a few minutes and we drank the rest of the vodka that was used to sterilize my wound.
With the wound taken care of, we cooked our dinner, celebrated with some sparklers and spent the night under a million bright stars. A week later, while peeling away at the remnants of the dried glue on my hair, I inadvertently also peel away a 1-inch scab. The wound had healed completely and now I’m waiting for Adam to hurt himself on our next adventure.
Injury aside, hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park was amazing and I recommend putting it on your Bucket List.
Updated on September 13, 2020