/ Crevasse rescue gadgets

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msp1987 - on 09 Aug 2017

Apologies if this has been asked before but I couldn't find it on a search. We are heading to the Alps in September for some climbing and walking. It will be our first time on glaciated terrain so we are currently going over the theory of crevasse rescue. We have a guide booked to do some training before we start off on our own. I am trying to decide what is the best set up to take, the set up described in the Bruce Goodlad Alpine Mountaineering should be fairly simple to get hold of. I have seen complete systems by Petzl and Mammut, the Rad and RescYou respectively. Does anyone have any experience of these and what did you think? If money was no object would you take one of these gadgets rather than a more conventional system?

mmmhumous on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to msp1987:

Haven't used either, so can't comment on how they perform. Personally, I prefer gear which is flexible/mulipurpose.

Cravasse rescue wise,over the years, I've acquired: prussiks, a tibloc, microtraxion, ropeman and a revolver screwgate. I've never had to use them in anger, but from practising with them:
-Metal devices are far better than prussiks.

In term of purchases
-Unless you need a motion capture pulley for other stuff (e.g. big wall hauling) it's an expensive 1 trick pony.
-The ropeman and tibloc offer bang for your book, are light, and double as ascenders.
-A revolver caribeener can also be used to reduce rope drag, or as a pseudo-screamer for ice-climbing
Wild Isle - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to msp1987:
The Petzl kit is easy enough to acquire in individual purchases and is basically the gear we take on glaciers as a matter of course. I agree that it's always best to be familiar with the fundamentals of any system before buying a gadget to shortcut your expertise. For this reason I'd suggest passing on the Mammut device for now. I have heard good things about it but it sounds like you could benefit from some background and experience before relying on something like that.

Practice using a carabiner clutch and prussics but yes I would ultimately get a Microtraxion and Tiblocks, they are simple and work well. They do have other uses which may or may not be relevant to you like top rope soloing, wall hauling etc...

Of all things keep your eyes open and learn to read the glacier terrain. Avoid convex slopes and don't travel unnecessarily long distances parallel to the line of crevasses (typically perpendicular to the line of flow).
Post edited at 23:52
splat2million on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to msp1987:

I quite like the Petzl microtraxion. It's pretty light and as a pulley it greatly reduces friction in a hauling system. It is also a good ascender which might be useful for other self-rescue purposes. The only downside in crevasse rescue is that it is possible to put it on backwards (unlike a prussik) and can be a bit tricky in big gloves (not worse than a prussik).

I have a tibloc but I'm not a huge fan as it feels a bit awkward in some karabiners (and petzl specify that it can only be guaranteed to work in specified ones). I prefer a normal prussik as it has more uses. Tibloc is easier in big gloves though.

I also like the DMM revolver karabiner which also can also be used to reduce rope drag if leading an awkward pitch, and makes a big difference compared to a normal karabiner in a haulage system. I looked at the Petzl Ultralegere pulley too as it is also really light but it only works on oval karabiners which I don't tend to carry, and if the rope comes off it might be counter-productive.

All that said, the most important thing in any rescue system is simplicity and familiarity with kit so don't try and overcomplicate the system with fancy gadgets unless you are well practiced with them.
Stefan Jacobsen - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to msp1987:
I have the Petzl RAD system. One difference between RescYou and RAD is that the latter includes a 30 m (6 mm) static rope, which is good if you dont want to carry a climbing rope. The RAD rope is super slippery, which is good when hauling. However, you have to take extreme care when abseiling, reversing, passing a knot and other maneuvers. Hauling and ascending the rope using tibloc and micro traxion is super easy compared to using prusik knots.

So, if you are going to carry a climbing rope anyway, and have the money to spend, get a tibloc and a micro traxion!
Post edited at 02:18
jonnie3430 - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to msp1987:

If money was no object I'd still only take stuff I'd want later on when climbing, so a tibloc, a few prussics, a revolver snapgate as part of a runner and a few slings. If you get anything specific for crevasse rescue, what are you going to do with it when you get to the climb? If it then becomes dead weight that you don't use, leave it!
Jamie Simpson - on 10 Aug 2017
In reply to msp1987:

I run quite few glacier / Alpine courses in Norway and have had the opportunity to us many systems.

If I was going on a alpine climbing trip (2 people) with a transited over a glacier which was considered "friendly" I would just take 2 x prussic's and have some slings, crabs and ice screws at the ready (snow anchor dependent on snow conditions). Light and versatile. Cheap. A fit alpine climber should be able to lift out there partner, however its hard work, and there is a lot of friction in a 1:3 basic system. You can build it out to form a 1:3 (2) which helps a little. If your a bit weedy then you might want to look for a more efficient system. Adding some pulleys, wheels in the crab etc increases the efficiency markedly.

If I was travelling over a glacier with varying friendly / unfriendly terrain with friends of varying abilities I would certainly carry a glacier rescue set. I have used both the petzl and more recently the Mammut variations. Both work well and are easy to use. Recently I used the Mammut rescue kit. I was sceptical, however after one use, I was sold. Easy to use and easy to hop over hindering knots / set up on a tight rope. It is however designed for one purpose, rescue and self rescue and the other systems can be used for different things. Bit expensive / weight.

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