Patagonia Remote Medical Expedition
By Nicole Ernst, PA
University of Colorado
Patagonia Remote Medicine Expedition (P.R.M.E) is a 10 days guided expedition in the Andes Mountain Range of Patagonia, the course is directed by Dr. Martin Musi, faculty at University of Colorado School of Medicine and originally from Argentina,
“This is a terrain-learning experience for those who desire to treat, teach, or lead in remote settings”
Patagonia; the region has intrigued me ever since I’ve seen photos of its pristine wilderness, it’s unique jagged peaks, and the incredible color of the glacial waters.(Not for nothing Yvon picked up the brand name).
The combination of unbeatable terrain, the thrill of wilderness medicine, the distinct expertise of the instructors needed for remote traveling, makes the perfect recipe for an incredible learning opportunity
Leading up to this trip I researched diligently what gear and equipment I might need from hiking boots, to a backpack, to even a poop shovel (luckily I did not have to use it).Despite my best efforts to prepare, I still had no idea of the beauty, adventure, and experience that awaited me.
My adventure began as I trekked through large Lenga tree forests and witnessed the stunning contrast between the lush green forest and the piercing infinity of the glacier’s whiteness as we reached Mount Tronador. P.S. I strongly recommend sunglasses if you do not want your eyes to melt like a snowman on a hot day.
Our adventures included lectures with simulations for recognition and treatment for injuries like sun blindness and frostbite. There are really no photos or words that can quite capture the beauty of Patagonia. This is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity one must travel to and experience.
As a group, we persevered in uphill battles with packs weighing half, if not more than our own body weight. The trek continued for hours until breathing taking and majestic views were revealed before my own eyes. For example, the falls leading up to Mount Tronador or the inspiring key hole with the circling condor waiting to pick one of us off.
There were no words that can adequately describe the feeling of reaching the huts after an excruciatingly long day of hiking. Throughout my adventure, I climbed steep and challenging volcanic boulders and glacier ice, I learned and execute 5 knots for rock and ice climbing and I battled the white water rafting between Argentina and Chile. Charging through the rapids to practice water rescues techniques.
Our group shared countless laughs, some glasses of wine, and many unforgettable memories. We goofed off by laughing at each other and ourselves, as we fell and tumbled along the way. Other days included complaining together and others we hiked in silence as a group just taking it all in. I could not have experienced Patagonia with a more perfect group of people.
We were guided through glaciers, ridges; white water and vertical crags by our UIAGM certified guides and we were instructed on cutting edge Wilderness Medicine by Faculty of University of Colorado with vast knowledge of the local culture and terrain.
Working with the local search and rescue teams during this course was a highlight of the experience, it helped me to strengthen my knowledge as a provider and taught us as a group the skills needed to work as a team in order to rescue and stabilize injured individuals in remote and difficult situations.
Lastly, a trip that was supposed to be purely a learning opportunity about wilderness medicine and connection to nature turned into the trip and experience of a life time; where I tested my limits physically as well as mentally. Each milestone reached; each mile we hiked, we did it together with laughs, encouragement, stories, music and a shared sense of adventure.
Learn more about the Patagonia Remote Medicine Expedition!