- Defining the field of wilderness medicine can be challenging, particularly for those who do not participate. The founders had a vision of a specialty that incorporates the essentials of practicing medicine in the outdoors without the “luxuries” of a hospital or medical clinic. Rumors abound of the early naming debates—should this group of researchers and practitioners be named the “Wilderness Medical Society,” the “Mountain Medicine Society,” or another, more specific title? Mountain medicine includes high altitude medicine, hypothermia, frostbite, and avalanche injuries, to name a few.
- Having just returned from the International Society for Mountain Medicine conference in Bolzano, Italy, the Editors are reminded of the international nature of wilderness and mountain medicine. Researchers across the globe are working to understand the needs and improve the care of patients in wilderness and mountain environments. Meetings such as this foster a sense of collaboration and cooperation across oceans and cultures. Learning from the best in the field might mean traveling to the European Alps to study avalanche and crevasse rescue, to Asia to investigate native populations and their unique adaptations to altitude, or to Nepal to collaborate with those who are advancing excellent medical care at remote clinics.
- Those who read Wilderness & Environmental Medicine are usually of the adventurous sort. We pride ourselves on seeking new and challenging activities in the outdoor environment. In this issue, the Brief Report “Personality Characteristics in a Population of Mountain Climbers” examines whether there are particular personality characteristics among the cohort of climbers and mountaineers. The report, not surprisingly, shows that mountaineers score higher than the normal population on the “Novelty Seeking” scale.
- You have probably noticed that our latest issues have been slightly “fatter” than previous issues. Submissions to Wilderness & Environmental Medicine have continued to rise, and the quality of submissions has risen as well. Elsevier, our publisher, has graciously agreed to expand our page number from 100 to 125 pages per issue. This will allow our increasing volume of manuscripts to be published in a more timely manner. We thank Elsevier for their partnership and support of our journal and authors.
- It is amidst a controversial and unusually dangerous climbing season on Mount Everest that we publish Dr Wagner's editorial “Medical and Sporting Ethics of High Altitude Mountaineering: The Use of Drugs and Supplemental Oxygen.” Certain pharmacologic agents have, for many years, been used to prevent acute mountain sickness (AMS), high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), and high altitude cerebral edema (HACE), the latter 2 among the greatest medical threats to life for those engaged in mountaineering on 8000 m peaks.
- To be a successful scholar in wilderness medicine, one must take risks. Just like reaching for the next handhold on a rock climb, descending deeper on SCUBA gear, or traveling to a far-off place to collect research samples from those of another culture, these risks challenge ourselves and define who we are. The past Editors of Wilderness and Environmental Medicine journal have all taken these steps. Paul Auerbach, Oswald Oelz, and William Robinson envisioned a medical field where none had been defined prior.