/ Crevasse Rescue

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sweenyt - on 27 May 2012
Hi all,

Quick question about crevasse rescue...
firstly I fully understand how to perform the 'standard' rescue, with 2 people on a rope, both have coils and one fall in.

But what happens with 3 on a rope?

As I understand it (not done much/anything with 3 on a rope) the middle person will be tied it using a larks foot/overhand/fig 8? Is this right or is there a clever way of all 3 taking coils?

If so, assume it all goes wrong and the front 2 fall in a hole. If the back person then sets up the anchor and z haul, and begins hoisting, what happens when the first person comes out? How do you by pass them to allow you to keep hauling and not risk either dropping the final person or the middle guy being pulled back in?

Or if just the first goes in, how do you set up the system with the middle person being in the way and not having coils?

I'm hoping if push came to shove I could work something out, but its always nice to know that a, you've set everything up in a way that makes your life easier and b, that you're approaching it in something like the 'correct' way.

Oh, also, and sorry if this is a dumb question, but I've seen people with a prussik attached to the rope in front of them at all times when moving on glaciated terrain. Why is this and what is it attached to? I did a conville course a few years ago and don't remember being taught this, just wondered what its use is.

Many thanks,

The Ex-Engineer - on 27 May 2012
In reply to sweenyt: In general, with 3 people, if the first or last person falls in you don't bother messing around, the other two just put some effort in and pull them straight out.

If that doesn't work, then the middle person just holds the one who has fallen. The end person moves forward, puts in an anchor slightly in front of the middle man and takes the weight off the rope. The middle man then unties and you proceed as normal.

If the middle man falls in, you just treat it the same as for a pair. The third man just drops coils if required and you sort things out once the middle man has been rescued.

As regards the prusik on the rope, I have never seen the point as you still need to unclip it from your harness and reconnect it elsewhere either when hauling or ascending. However, they idea is that it just saves the hassle of trying to retrieve a prusik loop from somewhere awkward like the back of your harness and then attached it with the correct number of turns when you are in a precarious position.

Oceanic - on 27 May 2012
In reply to sweenyt:

Just keep plenty of distance between the three of you, that way only one person can fall into a slot. The main skill of glacier travel is keeping the rope tight, so that you are using the rope to prevent you falling into a crevasse, even if your feet break through. It's also important to think about the orientation of the crevasses, if you walk parallel to them, you could all fall in the same slot!

The prussik loop thing is just so you have a prussik set up and ready to go, this could be used to prussik out of a slot if you fall in, or to attach the rope to the belay if your mate falls in.
sweenyt - on 27 May 2012
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:

Brilliant, thanks for that. I was on the right lines, but glad to hear it.

tistimetogo on 27 May 2012
In reply to sweenyt:
Very possible to have the middle person carrying coils but the last time I crossed a glacier as a 3 we had the middle person usng an alpine butterfly with only the 1st and 3rd taking coils. The middle person was slightly closer to the end and the heaviest person went first.

"If it all goes wrong and the front two fall in a hole."
Do not let this happen.

If it does happen
Front person (if conscious) could make themselves safe on ice screws, (always carry), release coils. Can then haul one at a time. Hauling two would be tricky.

Most holes I've fallen into have been small with only legs disappearing. Any big snow bridges/heavily crevassed zones should be done carefully (one at a time, consider using pro).

Prussik is just to speed things up.
Hannes on 27 May 2012
In reply to sweenyt: The idea with the prussic loop attached isn't only to have one at the ready but also to direct the pull lower which means you are less likely to topple over when there is an unexpected pull on it. I don't like it as I think it adds too much faff
BruceM - on 28 May 2012
In reply to Hannes:
Two prussiks attached, not one. Both long (foot) and short (harness) in correct order ready for instant escape. Short already attached to harness beneath coils also doubles as directional pull (as above), and is fixed ready for keeping you safe on anchored line as you move close to crevasse during rescue. Meanwhile the long (foot one) is ready for load transfer to first emergy anchor axe/screw during arrest.

But that is the system I use. Many different techniques. You should use the one you were taught and practise. And only change when you see something that may work better (and practise it).
gear boy on 28 May 2012
In reply to sweenyt: clip the middle person on using Alpine butterfly on about a foot loop to allow a bit of movement for them,

If 2 fell in third would be lucky not to follow

If you fall in a crevasse that far that you have to use rescue techniques then it went wrong somewhere, i have never been further than my armpits, and never met anyone who has

Think its been said but if this happens once first person out use their prussics to bypass them,

prussic always attached to transfer weight to anchor quickly, otherwise you have to try and tie a prussic while holding the weight of partner lying in the snow, had a laugh showing someone this once! make sure prussic is not the tension point, it should be up against the harness loose to enable clip off and then tension

Nigel Modern on 28 May 2012
In reply to sweenyt:

Agree with everything said but would add that should someone actually get far enough down to need prusiks be sure you know what to do and aren't putting all of you in more danger if attempting a rescue. In the Alps in any moderately popular area you might be better (possibly quicker) calling in the 'copter.

We know how to do it, have practiced it lots but still count calling the professionals as an option if in doubt...they wouldn't mind and you would be insured.

Totally different if off the beaten track but if you are doing that I'm sure you would choose to practice the skills lots and lots and lots.

btw persuading climbing walls to let you climb ropes using prusiks is often a problem but just book a lesson with one of the staff and they and you would be insured to climb ropes covered by a top rope. It is DEFINITELY worth doing until it is 2nd nature...as is escaping the system etc etc
Mark Haward - on 31 May 2012
In reply to Nigel Modern:
Personally I think if a team can rescue themselves safely they should do rather than calling for a helicopter. To speed things up there may be other climbers nearby who could safely offer assistance. Helicopter would be last resort.
As regards the prussik knot preplaced on the rope, I would strongly recommend this for the people on the rope who are most likely to be preventing / holding the fall. With chest coils a sudden jerk and weight will come high on the body and is likely to pull someone off their feet head first making it very hard for them to hold the fall. I have seen this happen several times. A prussik can be arranged, in conjunction with the chest coils, so that any rope pull is centred lower on the body - the harness - making it much easier to prevent / hold the fall. The prussik can also act as a useful handle.
Having said all that, I would usually only put on the prussik if I think the terrain / conditions warrant it or I am on the glacier for a period of time.
I'm sorry, I don't know the link but there is an excellent Scottish Mountaineering Council video discussing and showing exactly this issue.
OwenM - on 31 May 2012
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSh7CO5PTVA Its worth doing a few practices before you go.
sweenyt - on 31 May 2012
In reply to OwenM: Thanks.

Different in that vid to what I'm used to, but seems like a good system.

Thanks for all the help.

jon on 31 May 2012
In reply to sweenyt:
> (In reply to OwenM)

> Different in that vid to what I'm used to, but seems like a good system.

Yes, but that's the whole point. All these things come under the title of 'improvised rescue'. If you learn just one scenario, one system, then chances are that when/if the shit hits the fan, it won't be what you've learnt. As the name implies, you have to be able to improvise to deal with anything that you are presented with. Doing that safely and efficiently needs practice. Crevasse rescue is one of those things that you may never have to do, but it can't be ignored. As you say "I'm hoping if push came to shove I could work something out..." That's exactly the idea.
pneame on 03 Jun 2012
In reply to OwenM:
That's an excellent video - could have done with that before we did this - http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=198932

It's amazing we survived, but we didn't even get frightened. Daft
jon on 03 Jun 2012
In reply to pneame:

No... you were invincible, Peter!
pneame on 03 Jun 2012
In reply to jon:
Oh. No wonder we survived then!

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