/ How many climbers can "rescue" themselves?

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jezb1 - on 23 Mar 2014
Prompted by another thread...

How many climbers can sort themselves out of a mess?

I'm talking from simple things like hauling up a second who can't do a few moves through to escaping the system to ab down to your injured mate on a multipitch route.

I'd like to think most keen climbers can but interested to know.
Choss on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

I would Estimate 80-90% are Prepared and theoretically Capable of getting out of a small mess to the Limits of the equipment they have to Hand.
Blackmud on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

I don't reckon it's as high as Choss says. I know how to rescue an unconscious/unable to move leader hanging on the rope, escaping the system and abbing someone down with me. I'm of the view that everyone should know rescue techniques, but suspect that not that many know them well enough to use them safely and confidently (perhaps myself included in a stressful and difficult situation).
Michael Gordon - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

I've escaped the system and abseiled to help out a couple of times a few years ago.

If the ground isn't steep no doubt I could tie off one rope and take in the other while the second pulls up on the tied off one. On steeper ground they'd be better prussiking.
andrewmcleod - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

There are lots of things I think I know... until I have actually tried/practised them, I would not say that I can do them though.
Carolyn - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

I'd be able to work something out, but it wouldn't be particularly slick.

I'd be surprised if it's as high as 80-90%, too, even of folk who lead.
jezb1 - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

I'd also be surprised if it was anywhere near 90%

I reckon lots of people's self rescue knowledge stops at prussiking up a fixed line.

It is an area that needs practice rather than just reading about it.
needvert on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

The large majority of those I climb with:

- Would know the rough idea of prussiking but probably never done it
- Have never tied off a belay plate
- Wouldn't be able to tie a load releasable knot
- Don't place any priority on rescue skills

I don't overly mind, but it does influence your choice of people for some things.

Around UKC rescue skills are occasionally met with derision, mostly revolving around "I've been climbing 20 years and never had to do X" where X is things like escaping the belay. I see their point but do not agree.
Lord_ash2000 - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

At a guess, not including those who only really climb indoors I'd say about 30% might be able to do it confidently and up to half might be able to bodge something together to get them out of trouble with a bit of faff and effort.

Only time I've had to really do it was when I was left hanging in free space 3 pitches up a climb below a roof. Managed to use a prussic and the bit of cord off my nut key to haul myself up the rope, wasn't a great day.

In reply to needvert:

> The large majority of those I climb with:

> - Would know the rough idea of prussiking but probably never done it

> - Have never tied off a belay plate

> - Wouldn't be able to tie a load releasable knot

> - Don't place any priority on rescue skills

> I don't overly mind, but it does influence your choice of people for some things.

> Around UKC rescue skills are occasionally met with derision, mostly revolving around "I've been climbing 20 years and never had to do X" where X is things like escaping the belay. I see their point but do not agree.

Sounds like me - in 40+ years I have never had to escape a system, Prusik up a rope, or tie a releasable knot! That isn't to say I haven't had plenty of epics, stormbound, caught in the dark, abbing into the wrong place etc. but the above skills have never been needed,


Chris
andrewmcleod - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

Sometimes there are simple solutions though. Bringing up a second on a single pitch route who gets stuck/injured, need to escape the system and get help? Tie off the plate, and step out of your harness...
The Ivanator - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

From painful recent experience I would say many who think they are equipped and knowledgeable enough to get out of a mess are kidding themselves.
It is easy to get complacent and skimp on emergency gear for the sake of being lightweight.
My little crisis (you know the story) would have been easily resolved if I had carried a headtorch and mini traxion (both of which I own), even a more pliable and longer pair of prussik loops would probably have done the job.
It is one thing to have the knowledge and another to put it into practice, especially tired, in the dark and with poor equipment!
I'm guessing that most climbers could sort themselves out in benign conditions with all the equipment they could desire to hand - trouble is when you get in a mess it is more likely you will have to improvise with equipment and overcome poor conditions.
Still, with every chastening experience comes lessons and I'm hoping I've learnt a few from mine!

P.S. Is this thread a subtle tout for business?? ;-)
Michael Gordon - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

why wouldn't you just lower them to the floor?
JJL - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:


Most will know the theories; many will be able to practice them.

Unfortunately what matters is the balance between capacity for getting into trouble against capacity for getting out of it.

Lot's of people show greater ingenuity for the former, even if they do know at least some of the latter.
Goucho on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

> There are lots of things I think I know... until I have actually tried/practised them, I would not say that I can do them though.

Well said.

There's a world of difference between theoretically knowing what to do, and actually being able to do it when the proverbial hits the fan.

jezb1 - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to The Ivanator:

> P.S. Is this thread a subtle tout for business?? ;-)

It wasn't, just prompted by another thread, but I do have a premier post active at the moment!

It's all more relevant on Multipitch, which I guess most people on here do at least some of the time.
As someone said, Single Pitch is usually more simple, just lower down. But maybe you've abbed in so it must surely be a good idea to know how to prussik out and also haul your second up and out.

I do think people should be pretty self sufficient when out and about, but also not afraid to make the 999 call when it's the right thing to do.
martinph78 on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to Michael Gordon:
>why wouldn't you just lower them to the floor?

Yup, gravity is your friend so work with it, not against it.

jezb1 - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to Goucho:

> Well said.

> There's a world of difference between theoretically knowing what to do, and actually being able to do it when the proverbial hits the fan.

Definitely, I reckon loads of people have looked at Steve Long's great video or read about techniques in books such as Libby Peter's, but even practising with a person hanging on a rope is pretty tricky when you're learning and vastly different when dealing with a real situation.
martinph78 on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

> As someone said, Single Pitch is usually more simple, just lower down. But maybe you've abbed in so it must surely be a good idea to know how to prussik out and also haul your second up and out.

> I do think people should be pretty self sufficient when out and about, but also not afraid to make the 999 call when it's the right thing to do.

Have you tried hauling a body up a cliff face? Best bet would be to make them secure and go and get help.

jezb1 - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to Martin1978:

I've done it for real and practiced / demonstrated quite a lot when working.

It's hard work, but pretty doable. I'd rather do it than ring 999 unless there were other reasons to.
stu maci - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

When I first started on multi pitch and sea cliffs I had no idea! I was lucky, but had friends that got into spots of bother.

Now I'm more experienced I feel these skills are something all climbers should invest time and money learning.

I've no doubt plenty of Mountain rescue and coastguard call outs coud be avoidable if people knew a bit more.
martinph78 on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

Interested to know how you make the transition over the edge?

As it's rescue, and the second needs hauling up, I'm presuming something has gone wrong so 999 would be the right call.

The New NickB - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

I guess you don't really know until you are put in the situation of needing to do it. I have twice, both times I coped, but a different situation might be different.
A Mountain Journey - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

The first time I abbed into a sea cliff I had a vague idea of how to prussik, but had never practiced it, this definitely made me more nervous. It was the wake up call I needed to sort these skills out.

And whilst i've never needed to 'escape the system / haul / etc' for real, it's something I regularly practice to keep myself slick, and occasionally teach others these skills.

The majority of people i've climbed with have a passing interest in self-rescue, but most don't seem do anything about it.

It's easy for us to think 'it won't happen to us'. But reality is we all occasionally do get in a mess.

So easy for a hold to break causing a fall. If this were to happen on a big cliff and the leader falls onto very steep terrain and receives multiple injuries meaning they cannot move to help themselves, what, as a belayer / second do you do about it??

These are skills any climber going multi-pitching should know, for their own sake and the sake of their climbing partner.

Go on a self rescue for climbers course, for peace of mind alone it'll be worth it.
Paul Atkinson - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

I wonder what the statistics are regarding the chance of needing to apply some fairly advanced rescue rope work in multipitch climbing against that of having to search and dig out an avalanche victim in off piste skiing / ski mountaineering. In the latter case it would I think be widely regarded as extremely foolhardy and incompetent to go out without adequate skills and equipment for avalanche rescue (and most participants will do some regular practice) but I suspect the chances of actually ending up having to to deal with an emergency are significantly higher in multipitch climbing where paradoxically there is a much more nonchalant attitude among climbers and a corresponding lack of practiced skills.

It's been said of generals that they spend a whole lifetime, perhaps without any combat experience, training for just one or two battles which may never happen - but if they do the whole future of their nation may depend upon the outcome. A similar situation pertains with rescue and first aid skills in mountaineering. It may well never happen to you but if it does the life or death of your friend and how it affects you for the rest of your life will depend on whether you've bothered to learn a few basic techniques. It is crazy not to learn basic self rescue and first aid if you're going to climb in the mountains IMHO
jezb1 - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to Paul Atkinson:

Well said Paul.

The only way of knowing you'll do well if the poop hits the fan is by learning the skills and practising them so that when needed it all flows without much thought.
highclimber - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

I'd like to think I could use what I do know about self-rescue having never practised it for real on tremadog for instance. I hope I never have to but I like trying things out for those what if moments.
Ben Sharp - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:
Getting yourself out of a mess and advanced rescue techniques are two different things. I'd hope and expect most multi-pitch climbers could prusik up a rope, tie off a loaded belay plate and escape the system. I'd say they're pretty basic but after that I think someone's character is about 100 times more important than whether they know how to haul a second or not.

The people I've climbed with that make me think they'd be good to have around in a crisis tend to be the people who probably don't spend their Sunday's practising hauling sacks of bricks but I'd still rather have someone with a steady head and less technical knowledge.

Basic ropework, going on a good outdoors first aid course and knowing when (and how) to phone the MR are worth the most imo. Pretty sure I tick those three, but I'd have to be pretty f*cking desperate before I tried hauling someone. You're head doesn't work properly when you're in the middle of an accident and your decisions/ability are probably compromised. Throw in hot aches, iced ropes, a shit belay and the mother of all hoolies and you'll probably start realising that somewhere along the line, if you'd made a better decision, you wouldn't be needed to consider the advanced MIA type rescue stuff in the first place.
Post edited at 21:15
Albert Tatlock - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

file:///C:/Users/Dad/Pictures/scanned%20alps%202/Photos/Scan-0021.jpg

Steve Long doing a self rescue on the top of the rognon of the Frendo with a broken arm 1980,he is down on the right past the first climber with the yellow helmet
A Mountain Journey - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

Having these skills practised gives you more of a chance of remembering it all when in a complete mess. As you say, 'when in the middle of an accident, ability will probably be compromised', so why not stack the odds in your / your partners favour?

Agreed that character makes a difference too, but skills are very important.

Not sure why you'd need to be really desperate before hauling? If the rope has dislodged a small stone from a ledge and it's hit your 2nd - thus causing a problem (loss of consciousness for example) - and they're only 2 or 3 metres below you, a speedy solution is likely to be hauling.
Blizzard - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to Paul Atkinson:

My word. Every climber on here, who is climbing multi pitch should have at least done a course in rescue. There is no excuse for not being in the great outdoors and not having any preparation for a rescue.

I bet when it came down to it the figure for actual ability to solve a serious problem when it also comes down it, and the psychological stress induced and other factors on route only worsens the prospect of a successful rescue.

Can any of you remember the recent posting of the guy that actually did get into shit on the Roaches in the dark (I think) and called 999. That incident proves a point to some degree.
needvert on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

I wonder if this thread has a sort of selection bias occurring. The minority, who feel being equipped for bad outcomes is a good idea, come and post in it. The majority, who don't care don't bother posting.

Net result: It feels as though the majority feel rescue skills are important because the majority of thread posts reflect this, however the majority is actually the converse and doesn't care to spendthe effort to learn such skills.
Paul Atkinson - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to Blizzard:

> My word. Every climber on here, who is climbing multi pitch should have at least done a course in rescue. There is no excuse for not being in the great outdoors and not having any preparation for a rescue.

I'm not sure whether this is supposed to be a statement of your own views or purports to represent what I said - if the latter then it is a complete misrepresentation. I gave my own opinion, identifying it as such, which is that the standard rescue and first aid techniques (escaping the system, lowering, hauling, dealing with major haemorrhage, fractures, the unconscious patient and CPR) should be studied and perhaps practiced by everyone doing multi pitch climbing. I made no mention of formal training or courses although both are a good idea. Once you've met a few people who have watched loved ones die in front of them and stood by helplessly with no idea how to perform the simple techniques that may have saved their lives you do start to feel strongly about such matters

halfwaythere - on 23 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

I think being able to aid climb is an important aspect of self-rescue. Anyone disagree? Also it opens up harder moves or routes; not to mention self-belayed lead climbing..
Jonny2vests - on 24 Mar 2014
In reply to needvert:

> I wonder if this thread has a sort of selection bias occurring. The minority, who feel being equipped for bad outcomes is a good idea, come and post in it. The majority, who don't care don't bother posting.

> Net result: It feels as though the majority feel rescue skills are important because the majority of thread posts reflect this, however the majority is actually the converse and doesn't care to spendthe effort to learn such skills.

Yes.
Jonny2vests - on 24 Mar 2014
In reply to Albert Tatlock:

> file:///C:/Users/Dad/Pictures/scanned%20alps%202/Photos/Scan-0021.jpg

> Steve Long doing a self rescue on the top of the rognon of the Frendo with a broken arm 1980,he is down on the right past the first climber with the yellow helmet

If you give us the ip address and password for your PC, we'll be able to see that :-)
thermal_t - on 24 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1: Hmmm, interesting one. I've got myself and a 2nd out of a bit of a pickle before but nothing massively serious. I've also helped rescue a leader from a ledge who had a broken ankle, but that was very straightforward thanks to the multitude of anchors available.

I believe I have the knowledge through reading that would get me safely out of most problems. I'm also the kind of person that can usually translate theory to practice when situations dictate.

What this thread has made me think is that it is probably worth rigging some "practice epics" up and testing myself.

Al Evans on 24 Mar 2014
In reply to thermal_t:

My biggest self rescue happened when I was 20, Myself and Keith Myhill were attempting a route later called Giant on Cilan Head. We go to the lip of the 80ft roof in the dark, and contriving a couple of hand drilled bolt belays we decided we had to abseil off. It was then that we realised the tide had come in and our rope hung down into a roiling sea.
It was decide that Keith being the stronger swimmer (he once swam in the double Windermere race) he would go down first , and swim to the rocks, I would follow with all the gear and he would pull me ashore.
Surprisingly this worked ok, except that we were both stuck at the bottom of Cilan, almost hypothermic, and our dry gear was at the top.
Fortunately we had left a rope hanging down Central Pillar on the abseil in. Central Pillar was the crags classic HVS at time though I think it's now fallen down.
The bad news was we had these new fangled prussiking devices calld Heibler Clamps which we had never used, now called 'death on a stick'
http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=173478
I set off up the escape route on me Heiblers, but the foot one kept annoyingly twisting off the rope, about half way up the waist one came off, leaving me attatched to the rope by just one foot. I managed to swing in onto a ledge and got off the rope, which having gone slack Keith started to follow up, communication was impossible with the noise of the wind and the waves, so I just sat on my ledge and waited, Keith appeared over the overhang and nearly fell off in shock seeing me in the middle of this 200ft high pillar , no belay, unnatatched.
He had been having exactly the same problem with his Heiblers too so we had a conference. He would lead up the line of the rope, in the dark, tying in loops for runners, I was belayed to it by now, if he got stuck he could just pull on the abseil rope.
Why didn't we use prusik slings you ask, we were stupid we hadn't thought to bring anything thin enough for prusiks what with having the Heiblers and all.
Anyhow to state the obvious we were ok, and no rescue team was called out that night :-)
Ben Sharp - on 24 Mar 2014
In reply to A Mountain Journey:

> Not sure why you'd need to be really desperate before hauling? If the rope has dislodged a small stone from a ledge and it's hit your 2nd - thus causing a problem (loss of consciousness for example) - and they're only 2 or 3 metres below you, a speedy solution is likely to be hauling.

Maybe I should practise it again but I find it hard to think of many situations where it would be necessary. How long would it take you to set up a haul for those three metres? Probably longer than it takes for them to die if they're not breathing. If it's a few metres I'd rather get to them and be in a position to administer first aid as soon as possible and if necessary call mountain rescue at the first opportunity. Not after realising that the hauling practise I did 6 months ago isn't sufficient for me to do it efficiently under pressure.
jezb1 - on 24 Mar 2014
In reply to Ben Sharp:

> Maybe I should practise it again but I find it hard to think of many situations where it would be necessary. How long would it take you to set up a haul for those three metres? Probably longer than it takes for them to die if they're not breathing. If it's a few metres I'd rather get to them and be in a position to administer first aid as soon as possible and if necessary call mountain rescue at the first opportunity. Not after realising that the hauling practise I did 6 months ago isn't sufficient for me to do it efficiently under pressure.

If first aid was required then the first thing you do is get down to them.

Hauling should take about a couple of minutes to set up. Tie off plate, two prussiks if it's unassisted, redirect rope, untie plate, get pulling.
ads.ukclimbing.com
r0x0r.wolfo - on 24 Mar 2014
In reply to Al Evans:

Fantastic story, thanks Al.
Ban1 - on 24 Mar 2014


> What this thread has made me think is that it is probably worth rigging some "practice epics" up and testing myself.

im going to practice my prusiking technique. I always try and keep up with my knots
jethro kiernan - on 25 Mar 2014
In reply to Martin1978:

Climbing walls have floors the real world has Gound and that ground can be further away than the rope length you have avilable for a straight lower off ;-)
doz - on 25 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

Can everyone who climbs outdoors remember something as basic as an italian hitch? You would hope so for when fumbly fingers drop a belay plate......
martinph78 on 25 Mar 2014
In reply to jethro kiernan:

Really? I never knew that, thanks!

There should be an award for the most useful reply to a thread, because you'd get my vote :)
David Coley - on 25 Mar 2014
When I tried to write a little bit about self rescue it become clear to me that for the non-professional climber (like me) much of the stuff out there wasn't that relevant.

As many people above have commented, the two key skills are possibly:
1. helping the (uninjured) climber up to the stance/top. Possibly with an assisted hoist. Or simply placing enough runners so they can aid it.
2. going and getting help. This might well mean rope soloing or aiding to the top.

For this to go well and at speed. I do think practice is needed. Point 2 and the aiding in point 1 are not often not even covered.

I've been doing a bit of an experiment at my local wall, and live in the Boulder Ruckle, seeing how fast a second could aid a pitch if left to their own devices. It hasn't been a success. However given a few tips on how to do it (e.g. building aiders out of slings), people can sprint up the wall.

So my conclusion, is that a bit of practice, of the stuff most likely to be needed, is worth it.
jkarran - on 25 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

I know how to and I know what I can improvise with at a push but I rarely carry/have enough kit to make it a foregone conclusion that I would escape a real nasty mess.

Not sure if that makes me a yes or a no.

jk
jethro kiernan - on 25 Mar 2014
In reply to Martin1978:

In reply to Michael Gordon:
>why wouldn't you just lower them to the floor?

Yup, gravity is your friend so work with it, not against it.


> Really? I never knew that, thanks!

> There should be an award for the most useful reply to a thread, because you'd get my vote :)

Glad to be of help :-) maybe should have quoted the original statement
Al Evans on 25 Mar 2014
In reply to jethro kiernan:

> In reply to Michael Gordon:

> >why wouldn't you just lower them to the floor?

> Yup, gravity is your friend so work with it, not against it.

It's not always your friend, there are loads of crags where getting an injured mate to the bottom of the crag is just the start of your difficulties, not least popular crags like Boulder Ruckle and Gogarth, let alone Cilan.
These days of mobile phones probably make escape or call out for rescue a bit easier, but a make safe and get yourself out to call out the rescue may have to be considered as an option. All climbers should think about self rescue unless they are only going to climb on Stanage etc.
Jim Walton on 25 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1: Jamming finger cracks is hard for me, always found it hard. I think its a real skill some find it really easy, I don't. So I practice it.

The first time a set up an assisted hoist was when i was 18 and m friend couldn't follow me up F route on Gimmer. I had read about the method in a book (Nigel Shepards) and it seemed easy enough. I just lowered Nick a loop from the dead side of my belay plate (which I had not tied off) and told Nick to clip it to his harness. He pulled on one rope and I pulled on the other, up he came. Easy peasy. That was until I wanted a rest (don't think nick was doing his share...), I quickly realised that I has no system in place to lock the rope off when I let go (a simple prusik works here), because the rope was under tension I couldn't lock him off on the belay plate. So I just carried on with my forearms burning screaming at nick to help more or he would die...

I would have thought that the percentage of people who think they can do it is about 80%, the percentage who actually could do it probably drops to about 30% and then this figure probably drops to about 10% if they are to do it completely safely.

Having spent 2 days hanging off Tree-mud-bog on MIA training, 10's of hours hanging off other crags practicing and then another day hanging off Tree-mud-bog being assessed from my experience it's not that hard. Just tools in a box (about 6 in total) and knowing which one to use and when. However there is a lot to know and only about 20% is in the books. It would be impossible to cover all the detail and the tricks.

Becoming slick so that when you release it all you don't end up with a complete cluster f#ck, meaning that you end up having to actually untie from the rope to sort out the mess you made takes practice.

Know when and when not to put a knot in the system, when to use an Italian and when not. Where to put prusiks in so that you can have a rest all takes practice. Knowing how to release the prusik that has locked solid and won't release using normal methods so you can't lower or hoist your friend takes practice.

Most UK based problems can be solved whilst being "in the system", as soon as you have to "escape the system" then things really have stepped up a gear.
henwardian - on 25 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

Based on personal experience of people I know, I think that a lot of people would be completely incapable of effectively and safely rescuing a partner by doing anything more complex than lowering them back to the ground when belaying normally.
How much rescue ability you might need obviously depends massively on what you are climbing (very little being needed for single pitch sport and potentially a lot for big wall trad) but I'd say the majority of climbers, perhaps even the vast majority regularly climb in situations where they would be incapable of effecting a timely and safe rescue.

Personally I've rescued many people from many different situations and it's always amazing how complicated and frustrating simple maneauvers turn out to be when somebodies bodyweight is hanging from the system you are trying to build and use.

I've never had to rescue an incapacitated leader where I would have to ascend to them on a multipitch before multiple abseils down and even with quite a lot of experience of the systems I would use, I would still be pretty apprehensive about doing this.

I think I have more experience than most climbers in rescueing as well.
Blizzard - on 25 Mar 2014
In reply to Paul Atkinson:

Both.
Rob Naylor - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to henwardian:
> Personally I've rescued many people from many different situations and it's always amazing how complicated and frustrating simple maneauvers turn out to be when somebodies bodyweight is hanging from the system you are trying to build and use.

I remember back around 2000-2001 doing several practice sessions for all sorts of emergencies at club meets (done a bit since then too). The thing everyone commented on was how difficult it was to set up and use a haul system with someone deadweighting the rope. I remember we used the wheelchair ramp at Buckmore Park wall for some of those sessions. I was the "casualty" for a few people (as I'm quite hefty)and it was quite illuminating to see just how much effort they had to put in, and how little I moved up with each "haul" even to get me up 3-4 metres. Doing it "for real" even only in practice, was a far cry from the neat diagrams in the books!

Post edited at 00:07
climbwhenready - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

So how would you rig an abseil so that you could get your injured partner down, and also pass a knot?
Jim Walton on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

Lowering past a knot is actually not too bad as long as you know that you are going to have to do it and do a bit of pre-prep. Like many rescue solutions it's a quite difficult to explain in words but I'll have a go... (I'm going to make the assumption that you have a nicely equalised anchor above you or at least behind you and that you have secured the climber on a tied off belay plate. You are still in the system. If you don't know how to do this then ring for help and don't try to do any of the below!)

1 Before you begin, find the knot that you are going to have to lower past.
2 For the purposes of this description the rope on the side of the knot connected to the climber (and loaded) will be referred to as the LIVE rope. The rope on the rope on the other side of the knot will be referred to as the dead rope.
3 Tie a locked off Italian Hitch on the dead rope just above the knot and connect it to the anchor (An HMS type biner is best for this).
4 Put a Prusik on the rope below your belay device and extend it back to the anchor, try and have this clip above the 1st Italian hitch as it makes things cleaner. The prusik must be within reach when it gets loaded.
5 Tie a locked off Italian Hitch on the live rope and connect it to the anchor. Again have this one above the other two and on top.
6 Slowly release your belay plate and there weight should be taken by the prusik. IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE 2nd ITALIAN (Point 5) IS IN PLACE. If not then your friend is only being held by a prusik, prusiks slip. With the 2nd Italian in place then they can only slip a couple of feet. They won't die from that.
7 Remove your belay plate from the rope.
8 Release the 2nd Italian and take up all the slack you have just made from taking off your belay plate.
9 Your friend should now be tight on the 2nd Italian and the prusik.
10 Release the prusik and start to lower.
11 Keep an eye on the knot. Let it come as close to the 2nd Italian as you dare.
12 Let there weight be taken by the prusik again.
13 Remove the rope from the 2nd Italian. IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE 1ST ITALIAN (Point 3) IS IN PLACE BEFORE YOU REMOVE THE 2nd ITALIAN. If not then you are going to be hanging them on a prusik again whilst you faff about. Prusiks will and do slip.
14 Slowly release the prusik and they will drop down a bit as the slack from releasing the 2nd prusik is taken up and the 1st Italian is loaded.
15 You have now past the knot. Continue to lower with finesse. Collect your Medal.

This does take practice to perfect. If you are going to go out and try then I highly recommend setting up a completely separate rope and anchor and clipping it down to your partner so that if you do balls it up then they are not going to plummet to their doom.

Jim Walton on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

Bugger, just re-read your post. You wanted to abseil past a knot. I've just explained how to lower past a knot. Sorry.
Jim Walton on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

Libby Peters book shows this very well (page 159 in my copy). Couple that with the accompanied abseil (Page 161 in my copy).

Again note how Libby always has a clove hitch in below the belay the device when she is hanging just off the prusik. They do slip from time to time.
Robin Woodward - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to Jim Walton:
I assume the link would be connecting all clove hitches/prusiks (except backup/braking prusiks) etc. to the head of the sling (or whatever you are using) which is joined to both climbers, as for the belay plate you are abseiling off.

Here is a link to some of these skills (I assume it covers some of page 161 mentioned above):

http://www.climber.co.uk/categories/articleitem.asp?cate=1&topic=4&item=153
Post edited at 12:08
GrahamD - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

How can anyone tell how many of us could self rescue in a particular scenario ? invariably the exact situation you find yourself in will not fit a text book or pre-practiced scenario - either because the 'accident' is different or the weather is different or any other number of factors (with the possible exception of crevass rescue)
Jim Walton on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to GrahamD:

I don't necessarily agree with that point. The situations might change but the solution usually requires on of the following, if all other basic solutions have not worked.

1) Assisted Hoist
2) Abseil Past a knot
3) Accompanied Abseil
4) Lower past a knot
5) Lower & Hoist traverse
6) Un-assisted Hoist
7) Counter balance abseil

Off those 7 skills I would say that 1-3 are fairly simple and quick to do. 4 requires a little bit more work but 5-7 are serious undertakings.

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GrahamD - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to Jim Walton:

The skills can rarely be applied without modification, though. The situations in which you need the skills are very unlikely to be text book. Even if you can do all the things you listed in a training exercise, sods law says that when the shit hits the fan for real, you've got a broken wrist or the rope got cut or etc. etc.
Jim Walton on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to GrahamD:

I fully agree with you that you will require some modification. Unless you are really paranoid then you won't normally rig the perfect anchor that's equalised to a single point at head height, you won't be on a nice big ledge with lots of space, the sun will not be shining, you won't have the 15+ screw gates required etc.

But, even with a cut rope, the solution may be found in basics of the 7 methods detailed above.

Even a broken wrist doesn't have to stop an un-assisted hoist but you enter into God-Like-Hero-Status if you manage it! Lots of leg drives.....
GrahamD - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to Jim Walton:

I agree it doesn't preclude it - just that I'm sure plenty of people who think they know all the techniques wouldn't manage when the shit really hit the fan. Basically its an unanswerable question- most people never have to find out in any serious way.
climbwhenready - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to Jim Walton:

I don't have Libby Peter's book, I've got Craig Leuben's and Trad Climbing +. I'm also not thinking about going out and doing this yet!

My main confusion is: normally you'd rig an abseil with the abseil device extended, allowing for an autobloc or similar on the dead rope. This setup is good for an accompanying partner. But if you have to pass a knot, all the methods I've seen have a prusik above the abseil device to make the knot passing easier, which implies not extending the abseil so that you can make sure you reach it, which raises the question of where do you put your partner?
Jim Walton on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:
Yes a tricky one the problem comes from dealing with your casualty so that his full weight doesn't come onto you and double weight a prusik, this is probably how I would do it but they will be others, many probably better;

1) Rig best anchor you can.
2) Take an 8' sling, fold it in half and tie a small loop at the mid point. You should now have a sling that is made up of two large loops and one small loop at the middle (creating a Y hang sling).
3) Clip one of the large loops to your ab loop on your harness.
4) Thread the rope through your belay device in the normal way and clip it to the small loop. This will make the belay device about 2' away from you but still well within reach.
5) The other long loop should be hanging free. Clip a crab into it and clip it out of the way (some clip into the belay device crab).
6) Tie a normal prusik to the rope and clip it to your abseil loop.
7) Set off down rope.
8) When you get above your mate stop. Tie a clove hitch in the rope below your prusik and clip it to your abseil loop.
9) Let your prusik take your weight.
10) Clip the spare loop to your mate. You will need to get him off whatever rope he is attached to. Clip a short quickdraw from your harness to his, this will need to be with screwgates. (If he is hanging this gets a little complicated and you might have to start getting involved with Yosemite lifts and mariners hitches but lets brush over that and say that he is on a nice ledge and can get his weight off the rope).
11) He will now hang at the same level as you (this is not overly comfortable but as you practice you will start to alter the lengths of the loops on the Y hang to suit but lets gloss over that and keep the loops the same length).
12) Release the clove hitch and carry on the abseil until you reach the knot. Directly below the knot tie an over-hand knot on a bight.
13) You will have to get it past your prusik first. Let the prusik take the weight and then tie a back-up clove hitch a meter or so down the rope and clip it to your abseil loop.
14) Place a second prusik above the belay device and clip to your harness, place extra turns on this one as two of you may be be weighting it.
15) Release the first prusik and remove it from the rope and place it below the knot.
16) Abseil down a little bit more until you weight the top prusik. Check that it is locked and check that your back-up clove hitch is still in place.
17)Remove the belay device from the rope, they should be hanging from your harness via the short quickdraw (Point 10)
18) Clip your friend to the loop you have made in the rope (Point 12) using sling. This should be tied to the loop by way of a tied off Italian hitch onto a crab on the loop and pulled tight. The significance of this is that it can be released under load.
19) Remove the belay device, your casualty should be hanging off your harness via the short quickdraw and re-attach it below the knot. Tighten up the sling in Point 18.
20) Release the top prusik until the weight comes back onto the belay device.
21) Release the sling from Point 18.
22) Release the clove hitch.
23) Abseil to tea and medals.
Post edited at 15:16
jkarran - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:
> But if you have to pass a knot, all the methods I've seen have a prusik above the abseil device to make the knot passing easier, which implies not extending the abseil so that you can make sure you reach it, which raises the question of where do you put your partner?

Without thinking too hard about this you could always just improvise a little allowing you to reach up and free an upper Prusik. Something as simple as a couple of turns of the dead rope around your foot, stand up in that, loosen the Prusik could do the trick in seconds. If you prefer by-the-book a Prusik footloop does the same job.

Alternatively could you not extend the belay plate and have your load/partner hanging between your knees on a 60 or 40cm sling. That doesn't preclude a fairly conventional knot passing though doing it with an extra 80kilos on you would be fairly unpleasant. Abbing with a haul bag it hangs between your legs so you're pretty much sat on it. The weight is a pain but it's maneuverable and the the ropework is unchanged by the additional load. Maybe I'm missing something?

jk
Post edited at 15:36
David Coley - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to Jim Walton:

> Yes a tricky one the problem comes from dealing with your casualty so that his full weight doesn't come onto you and double weight a prusik, this is probably how I would do it but they will be others, many probably better;

Either just hang him off your belay loop or do a y-hang with your side very short. In both cases I would do a prusik-munter-mule rather than french prusik because of the weight.
jezb1 - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to climbwhenready:

> So how would you rig an abseil so that you could get your injured partner down, and also pass a knot?

There's books and courses to cover that. But suffice to say with practice its not too much drama.
jezb1 - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to GrahamD:

> How can anyone tell how many of us could self rescue in a particular scenario ? invariably the exact situation you find yourself in will not fit a text book or pre-practiced scenario - either because the 'accident' is different or the weather is different or any other number of factors (with the possible exception of crevass rescue)

By learning all the building blocks of rescues you can be well drilled in set pieces and then if your fairly on it you'll be able to improvise and do what's necessary.
jezb1 - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to David Coley:

> Either just hang him off your belay loop or do a y-hang with your side very short. In both cases I would do a prusik-munter-mule rather than french prusik because of the weight.

David, I've just come across your email, sorry for not replying sooner, it's gone to a seldom used address, I'll reply later.
Rob Naylor - on 27 Mar 2014
In reply to GrahamD:

> How can anyone tell how many of us could self rescue in a particular scenario ? invariably the exact situation you find yourself in will not fit a text book or pre-practiced scenario -

I agree with that. But I think getting into the habit of thinking things through quickly helps with decision-making when the shit hits the fan.

One self-rescue I saw which relied entirely on quick-thinking was my friend Kevin. I was recovering from an illness so not climbing, but had walked into the crag with the others. Kev was leading a novice up a VDiff, for him an easy climb. He'd just brought her up to the stance before the top pitch when someone on an adjacent climb kicked down a brick-sized rock which hit his hand and broke several fingers, some in several places. He almost immediately asked his second to get a glove out of his rucksack (he was climbing wearing it) and put it on quickly before (a) the hand swelled too much and (b) the pain kicked in. He then quickly did the last pitch, placing no gear and topped out just as the pain levels got quite severe. Meantime I'd gone around and up the walk-off to assist in getting him and his partner down before driving him to hospital.

What was impressive there was how quickly he sized up the situation and decided that the best and quickest way out of it was to do what he did. Lowering his partner down the 3 pitches they'd already climbed wasn't on. His partner was on a first multi-pitch and wasn't confident abbing anyway. Getting me around to the top to bring them both up would have taken a lot longer by the time I was up there and the pain would have kicked in fully and reduced his own ability to help.

But it's the kind of thing I'd expect of him. Whenever the climbing was affected by weather or other constraints, Kev was always up for practicing "scenarios"....often wierd and unlikely ones...."just to get you to think" as he'd put it. He'd set something up and then say "how would you get out of that?"

Even though I don't get to climb much these days Kev's my first choice partner every time. I feel safer on a mountain route with him than with anyone else I know, and climb about 2 grades harder than normal :-)

needvert on 27 Mar 2014
In reply to GrahamD:

> How can anyone tell how many of us could self rescue in a particular scenario ? invariably the exact situation you find yourself in will not fit a text book or pre-practiced scenario - either because the 'accident' is different or the weather is different or any other number of factors (with the possible exception of crevass rescue)

It doesn't matter if it's exact or not. The intent (IMHO) isn't to enable the user to only solve exact pre-practiced scenarios - because as you say things are rarely identical.

Scenarios prove effective as a learning tool in many fields. In order to better handle an entire class of scenario, you will typically spend a period solving, or tracing through an existing solution, to many specific scenarios.
(You'll probably also spend some portion of time learning some theory, or skills, that will provide the tools to use in the scenarios - just think back to school for years of examples of being presented theory then scenario.)

After you've done a few specific scenarios, you have a much better chance of solving anything that comes up in that class of scenario.


climbwhenready - on 27 Mar 2014
In reply to Jim Walton:

Thank you, that does sound doable in theory... I guess as other people have said hanging off the belay loop is the other way!
RomTheBear - on 27 Mar 2014
I tried once to set up a rescue scenario at my local crag. We found out that even with a 3 to 1 pulley system hauling up a big guy like me (100kg) is almost impossible. My partner added one pulley to the system and was able to haul me at snail pace with huge effort, took her about half an hour to haul me up only a few meters.

Of course knowing how to do it is important, but I guess in a real situation with an incapacitated second hanging on the rope and no possibility to lower directly on the ground, getting help from mountain rescue would probably be a safer bet... I guess it's really something that you would use only if you had no chance of getting help and no other choice, but always good to know.
needvert on 27 Mar 2014
In reply to RomTheBear:

How many actual pulleys did you have?

davidbeynon - on 27 Mar 2014
In reply to needvert:

Pulleys make life easier, but you can make a perfectly servicable 3:1 system with screwgates.
RomTheBear - on 27 Mar 2014
In reply to needvert:

> How many actual pulleys did you have?

Well we had two DMM revolvers.
needvert on 27 Mar 2014
In reply to davidbeynon:

What sort of mechanical advantage does one get there?
davidbeynon - on 27 Mar 2014
In reply to needvert:

Depends on the screwgates and rope. Less than you would with pulleys but a lot better than nothing.

I have a couple of pulleys, but they only really come out on alpine trips. I suspect a lot of people are the same.
needvert on 27 Mar 2014
In reply to davidbeynon:

The most enlightening study on pulley choice I can find at the moment is this:
http://www.bwrs.org.au/sites/default/files/PulleyReport/PulleyReport-w.html

Sadly they don't measure a 3:1 with two carabiners.

Interestingly in their test, moving from a 2:1 setup with one pulley to a 3:1 setup with one pulley and one steel carabiner increased the mechanical advantage from 1.86 to 1.90. Such a negligible amount that a user may have been better off just sticking to the 2:1 (or learning where the best place to place the high efficiency is).

Can't find any numbers on DMM revolvers.


Hauling systems sure are hard to get right.
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jezb1 - on 27 Mar 2014
In reply to needvert:

Good link :)
Ffion Blethyn - on 27 Mar 2014


Those numbers comparing 3:1 and 2:1 systems are interesting!

A 3:1 system does allow both climbers to heave on the ropes with some pulleyed advantage. (Assuming neither are unconscious etc. etc.)

In reply to needvert:

> Hauling systems sure are hard to get right.

It would seem so! Friction over a carabiner is a lot larger than I would have imagined.
Thanks for the link.
jezb1 - on 27 Mar 2014
In reply to jezb1:

Working today I spent a bit of time looking at unassisted hoists with my two clients. We started without any pulleys progressing to using two.

Completely unscientific but makes a massive difference to the point where I might swap my prussik carrying krab for a revolver.
davidbeynon - on 27 Mar 2014
In reply to needvert:

Interesting. To be honest I have never really tried using a 2:1 system as I learned the 3:1 with pulleys fairly early & don't find it too hard to rig. I might reconsider when using screwgates. Or just carry my pulleys more as they don't really weigh much.


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