Sunday, 20 January 2013

Hokkaido Trauma Conference 2013

Last year the RMH Trauma Conference was cancelled not due to radioactivity, but because Ansell had already fully booked the venue (now that would have been some congress). This year the powder didn't let us down - like good food in Japan, it seems to be the rule rather than the exception - except in Niseko where even the peak is tracked out these days within several hours of opening. However we still managed to tear ourselves away from the lift-accessed stuff for some hard slogs through deep fluff in the hills around Rusutsu on most days. I climbed Yotei twice, once with Kate and Bec, and another with the blokes. We took guides both trips, however it's a pretty straightforward tour with minimal risks and we should have insisted that the guides at least carry weights to cut track a little more effectively (both of them were themselves less than 50kg!). On 'fine' days, the volcano seems to get sun in the mornings on the beautifully gladed south facing bowl, and then ill-timed snow arrives for the afternoon descents. Although we summited last trip, there didn't seem much point this time with anything above the tree-line low in both visibility and quality snow. The stuff below the trees was at times chest deep, so we were content to do loops of this before the final descent to the onsen.
We had hoped to get up to Tokachidake for some touring at the end of the conference, however time and weather were against us - next time... 
To justify writing the trip off on tax, I gave a presentation on the physiology of altitude, alpine trauma, mountain sickness and safe travel in the alpine which I finished by demonstrating my Snowpulse airbag system to great amusement. It works great, but is a bugger to pack up again. Whilst hardly an expert in this field, it was a good angle that will hopefully get me back for some more Japanese powder some day soon. Malcolm Hogg of RMH spoke well on new aspects of chronic pain management - including lower back pain and particularly of the role of the core group of muscles. I have always maintained that any skinning up the side of a volcano is the equivalent of 4 hours of pilates. And these trips are always great for networking - I made some new BC friends, and caught up with a few old friends from medical school who are still just as good drinkers but just as bad at karaoke as they were all those years ago. 

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