Jump to content

Self Rescue


Recommended Posts

So, I'm about to take a self rescue clinic tomorrow, and I'm trying to get up to speed on systems to ascend a rope.


Etriers and the Texas Prusik comes to mind, but who ever carries these things in their back pocket when they're out to free climb on rock... nobody is my guess. My premise is I need to work with what I'd typically have slung on my harness... a few biners, some slings and maybe a cordelette.


David Fasulo's book on the topic shows a few methods... as simple as a few wraps around one's foot and weighted on up to prusiks and Garda Hitch as an alpine clutch.


If push came to shove and you had to ascend the rope, what would you do? Have any of you practiced this? Do you have any tips to offer?


Lambone, you've been awful quiet lately... take the bait mushsmile.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 58
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

b-rock said:

The book 'Self Rescue' details a handful of miscelanious techniques as well.


One thing about the book, and chucK mentions this as well, if you're free hanging, attaching one's prusik directly to one's harness leaves you really tippy. Rigging up a quick chest harness (especially with a fixed length of webbing between the harness and the biner at your chest) makes all the difference in the world.


Lammy didn't want to touch this one, huh? Seriously, where is the guy? Haven't seen him in a while.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A7U...you have an attitude problem. If you think self-rescue info is not important.....well, good luck too you.


Ok Toast, I been busy...graduation is in two months!


So anyway...yours is a very good question.


I particularly liked the self-rescue course I took because the instructors took a realistic, bare-bones approach to the systems they taught us. In otherwords, how would you do it if you only had a few slings and biners...


If your instructor whips out all kinds of extra gear and do-hickies that you usually don't carry on a climb, ask him/her to simplify the system. Try to set things up with the least amount of gear possible.


As far as ascending a rope goes, there are many ways to do it. I carry one prussik chord, mostly to use as an auto-block when rappeling. So lets say you have a sling, a few biners, and one prussik.


Try a few different set ups and see what works best for you, you'll find some more effecient and faster then others. From memory, I think that I usually would put a bachman knot through an oval biner onto the rope and attatch it directly to the belay loop on my harness. Then I'd take the prussik, slap it on the rope and girth two slings to it for foot loops. This lower prusik foot loop set up would not be attached to you at all, it floats on the rope and you slide it up for each move. Thats it, takes 30 seconds to set up. It may not be the best way, but it is one simple and quick one...


There are others of course...I like the bachman on the upper sling because it gives you something to grab onto and slide up. BUT, spectra slings tend to slip when in a Bachman knot...so ALLWAYS tie back up knots below you if you can...or if it is slipping, use the prussik as the knot that is fixed to your harness.


Ti-blocks are nice small ascenders that work awsome in many self-rescue applications, but I don't allways carry them, it depends on the route.


My method that I just described may have flaws...I'm just going off memory and I haven't practiced in a while. I don't think the technical details of how one specific method works is what's important. The key is to keep it simple, and starightforward. In self-rescue, the more complicated the system, the longer it will take and the more likely you are to forget a key step. You need to be able to adapt to working with the gear you have.


Genearaly you wan't enough gear to make things easier, but not so much that you can't climb fast. Since taking that course, on more serious climbs I will bring this stuff self-rescue:


1 chordellete (not to be used for belays)

At least 2-3 big pear shaped lockers

1 prussik

Some slings that arn't spectra

Maybe a ti-block or two.


That is really about all the key stuff you'd need to do most simple self-rescue senerios (along with your typical rack).


Anyway...hope this stuff makes sense, let me know if you want me to be more specific. bigdrink.gifwave.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On any long route, and even most 1-pitch trad routes (or, really, anything that's not totally pushing me grade-wise) I carry a prussik and a texas-prussik deal pre-tied for my feet. This is indeed a bit overkill, but I already have it for glacier travel, so I just loop it all together and throw it on a biner that sits at the back of my harness. It's 5 mm cord, so the ounce or two it weighs easily justifies itself if/when I have to use it (I've had to ascend ropes unplanned at least a couple times recently).

If I'm working on a hard (for me) sport route or trying to on-sight a one-pitch wonder, then I might take it off, but otherwise it's always there.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Get a tibloc & use your daisy chain to attach to the rope. Then use a couple of single runners or a double girth hitched to a small prusik for you feet. that is ALL you need to ascend for rescue. you can always use another small prusik in place of the tibloc. I don't worry about not tying into the chest...most times I prefer to NOT be tied by my chest so I can pivot upside down if necessary.

For actual rescue work I use what is called a purcell prusik system. It consists of a chest loop & 2 differnt sized foot loops. I can show you them whan I see you again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

always carrying a small bundle of prussiks is a good idea, you could use 4 mil which has more than acceptable strength and very small bulk. Purcell prussik is a nice way to have adjustable prussiks, act like adjustable aiders when used correctly. they let you clear bulges by offering great flexibility into each prussik/foot stirrup.

but don't forget about the foot lock on the rope as an effective way to ascend the rope. Used to get taught more than nowadays.

you need to get up to some initial slack, but then it's easy.


Bring one foot behond the other kneecap, toes facing forward.

Hook the rope with this foot, and bring the rope under the other foot, pulling the hooking foot tight into the foot with the rope under the heel. this forms forms a bend you can stand on. fashion a set of prussiks out of whatever, even a single bachman for your waist, and you are in business. You dont need to stand in anything other than the rope you are climbing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


to ascend a free-hanging rope in an emergency/self-rescue scenario, I would tie a single short prussik on the rope and clip it to my harness. then I would manuever a bight of the hanging rope under one foot, maintain the bight with one hand while I stand in it, raise the prussik as high as possible with the other hand, load the prussik and unload and shorten the bight, stand up in the bight, and repeat that sequence as many times as necessary to achieve my objective. no need to overstock your rack with "single-use" dedicated rescue stuff. the prussik hitch can be tied from web sling as effectively as from cord sling, or it can be tied using the cord sling on a passive nut. also, consider replacing some of your web runners with perlon rope runners (7mm loop strength is adequate). the "Purcell Prussik" mentioned by Beck and Coopah can also be used as an adjustable daisy-chain, and has the added advantage over a standard daisy chain, of being strong enough to belay from; however its equivalent can quickly be constructed from a cordelette or a double-length cord runner, so it's "user's choice" whether or not to carry it pre-rigged. Although I habitually carry several oversize locking carabiners, there is no operation I perform with them that I could not perform with standard carabiners if I had to. Actually, you're addressing maintenance of your most critical self-rescue tool already... by asking this question and attending the seminar you mentioned, you're exercising the tool between your ears... keep this up and the rest will take care of itself.

Edited by haireball
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The few (two) times I have had to do a self rescue, speed was important. One time we were getting lightning strikes all around us. The second time, it was already getting dark. I always carry two short prussicks about twice the size of a caribiner. I can whip those babys out and be halfway up the pitch before you figure out how to do that foot bite thing efficiently. But to each his own. fruit.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After getting a rappel rope stuck while retreating in the rain a couple of years ago, I prussik'ed up a long steep pitch using only the runners from my rack. If you do like ChucK says, and carry real runners instead of those stupid stiffy dog-bone draws, you can fashion prussiks any time. To keep one on your foot, simply make a girth hitch and step into it, then leave one strand of the hitch below your foot and slip the other up around your ankle.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

for some reason I've never thought about using purcell prusiks in an anchor system. Would be convenient to shorten or lengthen a component of an anchor. Not sure what kind of shock load a prussik in that situation could take before it started glazing. time for some more drop testing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was at the Self Rescue Seminar with Toast. All the scenarios assumed two rope teams of two. None of what we learned would work for a single team of two.


A rescuer is lowered to the injured climber who is assumed to be unable to assist with his own rescue. The injured climber is fastened to the back of the rescuer by means of two double runners tied together. Then you can either raise or lower the two of them. Lowers are performed using a double carabiner brake, which takes a lot of ovals. Raises are done using a 9:1 pulley system, which is best thought of as a "Z-pulley on a Z-pulley". Ideally, you would have four pulleys, but we used two and used carabiners in place of two of the pulleys. As a back up, regardless of whether you are raising or lowering, you have a second rope used as a belay. This rope uses two prussiks and a mariner knot, rather than a munter hitch, because it is more reliable for holding the weight of two climbers.


I am going to start carrying my little rescue pulley on rock climbs as well as on glacier climbs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

hmmm...well, it might not have been a complete watse of time, but I can think of about ten other skills that would be better learned before that technique.


Carrying pulleys on every climb is getting a bit over-board and unrealistic, as well as raising the climber or two climbers confused.gif to a belay ledge. This would be the last resort at best, and the slowest way to get them to the ground. Are you going to allways climb in teams of two as well?


I completely disagree with using a carabiner brake for lowering injured climbers (for several reasons), and that a mariner knot with pussiks is better than a munter-mule combo.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lambone, I had the same thoughts as you going in to this class. The arguments I got were that only the double carabiner brake is beefy enough to lower two climbers. A munter hitch or single carabiner brake doesn't have enough friction and can get away from you. Furthermore, they said that the Munter hitch is not safe enough for use as a belay for two climbers. You have to realize that the fellows teaching the class are all search and rescue guys. They insist on a high margin of safety.


The rescue techniques that apply to a party of two are much more complex and would require more time to teach. They are also much more risky.


By the way, the object is not to get the severely injured climber to the ground. Rather, it is to get him to the nearest ledge where he can be stabilized until rescuers can arrive. This means stopping bleeding and preventing hypothermia.

Link to comment
Share on other sites










Link to comment
Share on other sites



So, the oject isn't really self rescue then...this is a big distinction.


I agree that the first order of buisness if the Second is injured is to get down too them and asses their injuries.


But inorder to do this you first need to escape the belay. Did they cover this at all? It just seems like this would be more lojical to teach before the 9:1 pully system. It is the fundemental self-rescue technique, and the pre-curser to anything else you would do next. And it only takes about 30 minutes to teach (I've done it).


I still disagre with the argument about the Munter. I had no trouble lowing haulbags which equaled at least 300lbs (too heavy I know) using a Munter, easy to control with one hand, easy to stop with a mule knot, and easy to pass the knot. The oval brake is more gear intensive, more dificult to set up when passing knots etc., and I think it has less friction than a Munter-hitch....but maybe I'm wrong. I just never use ovals, so I wouldn't even consider it...


Still good that you are taking classes and gaining awareness, any exposure to this kind of stuff is a good thing. Cheers bigdrink.gif


Just curious, did you actually raise two people by yourself? If so how far and under what circumstances?




I don't have much of an opionon about your question. I am more interested in Self-Rescue than how big SAR teams operate. And if you make one comment about Glacier Peak I will punch you through this computer screen. the_finger.gif

Edited by Lambone
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't see why you need ovals for a carabiner brake. D's work fine. Maybe they wanted him to use a carabiner brake because it was the precursor to the brake bar rack rescue teams adore so much. hahaha.gif Carabiner brake gives a nice smooth ride

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...