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cold feet

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My fiance had an interesting experience with frostbite/frostnip this weekend while we were hiking Ruckle Ridge in the Gorge. We spent 10 hours soaking wet and wading through knee deep slurpee snow. We stopped twice to attend to her cold feet and they showed early signs of frostbite (i.e. cold to the touch, waxy white appearance, don't change color when you squeeze them).


When we got back down and warmed up, her feet looked pretty bad. There were black sploches in many places on the top of her foot, her toes were completely white, and there were a couple smaller black marks under some toenails. By Tuesday morning, the dark spots had spread and her toes were pink again but a bit swolen. No blisters or skin sluffing though. Our (and the doc's) consensus is that it was a mild case of frostbite.


So my question is this: Is it really possible to get frostbite in temps above 32 degrees? Technically, frostbite is cellular damage caused by ice crystals forming in the flesh. How can ice crystals form in above-freezing conditions? Is there some other affliction that might cause that kind of damage?

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