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theolograem

badass solo rescue

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how would a person on the rescuing end of a two person rope team simultaniously hold an arrest while placing anchors and then proceed to rescue the fallen partner? How close to impossible is this? I have held an arrest position while a partner sets an anchor for a class and that was difficult enough! Obviously, 3 or more is better, but in that situation, what does a person do?

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not at all impossible my man!

 

while placing the initial anchor you hold the weight with your feet, keeping your ice axe ready in case they should blow (but kick 'em good to prevent this). once you have whatever youre using for your initial anchor in, clip your leg prussiks...well, it might be a bit too much to explain here - hire a guide or get some more experienced friends to show you how its done. there are also several books that explain the process - maybe you could get together with some friends and figure it out in someone's yard using the book for reference. it takes practice to get all of the steps down, but youll pick it up in no time if you commit a chunk of time to learning how to do it properly then practicing.

 

good luck!

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A trick that someone showed me when travelling in 2 person rope teams (or any number of people on a rope for that matter) is to tie a butterfly knot in the rope between you and the other person. After setting the initial anchor, it's easier to clip off the fallen climber to the loop (rather than setting up a prusik or ascender), transfer the weight to the anchor, then fiddle with equalizing the anchor with two free hands.

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havent seen that use of the butterfly knot - based on your description of what youd do with the knot, im not sure that would work, or if anything it would make things more difficult. maybe i just misuderstood?

 

i often put butterfly knots in my rope simply to help stop the fall. i like to put three in - one right in the middle, and one about 2 meters from each climber. the knots will often jam where the rope has cut through the lip of the crevasse, making it easier to stop the fall.

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the whole idea of it seems intimidating, but I guess some practice would help. the fact that i'm in this sort of alternative "landlocked situation" aka, I'm from the PNW and want nothing more than to be a mountain climber, but I live in Chicago, IL. makes my situation unique and challenging, but yes practice and experienced friends would definately help. god i miss mountains.

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Done it a couple of times in practice. The first time I was uphill from the crevasse and taken by surprise; that was awkward at first, but no real trouble. The second time I was downhill from the crevasse and I really didn't even need to arrest; I just got down in the snow and dug my toes in a bit. As long as all your gear is reasonably handy (prussiks on the rope, biner, slings, pulleys and anchors within reach) you should be able to hold a fall while setting up an anchor and putting your partner on it...which is not to say you won't be tired by the time you've yanked him or her out.

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no doubt! that's a lot of work. have you done a lot of climbing in your day, seems like i've heard from a few people that crevasse falls aren't all too common. i don't know. out of curiosity, where did they occur for you?

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havent seen that use of the butterfly knot - based on your description of what youd do with the knot, im not sure that would work, or if anything it would make things more difficult. maybe i just misuderstood?

 

Butterfly knot, figure eight...whichever knot you choose to tie off a small bight a foot or two in front of your harness. Use it to quickly clip a fallen partner off to an anchor.

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Did it a few times in practice also but the guide was trying to yank me down even harder (thanks J.F.)! He taught us to attach a 5M x 7 mm cord to the rope a couple inches from our tie-in point using a triple loop prussik right after we tied into the rope. We daisy-chained the rest of the cord (keep it short) and clipped it to a gear loop with a locking biner. After you arrest the fall, dig in and fix an anchor you can unclip the cord, tie a double overhand knot in the cord's ends and clip it to the anchor. Then transfer the weight to the cord by slowly shifting towards the fallen climber. Not wanting to rely on a single cord we clipped ourselves to the anchor with a double-length sling, got off the rope and clipped the rope to the anchor using on overhand knot as a back-up. Now we were free to pull him out with a drop line or leave him there for a while to think about what he did (ha ha, not that I did that or anything). bigdrink.gif

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Butterfly knots tend to work better between the climbers than other knots. This is because the butterfly knot is on both sides of the rope, whereas the overhand or the eight knot is only on one side of the rope. The butterfly knot is far more likely to catch on the lip of the crevasse than pretty much any other knot because of its shape.

 

The number one problem with knots in between climbers is extraction. Prusiking past knots or creating a hauling system with knots in the rope are both problematic situations. In either case you must pass a knot. The only way to do this effectively is to have your crevasse rescue techniques down cold.

 

Miller recommended a guide for instruction of this technique. I completely concur. Most people practice their crevasse rescue once or twice a year, if that. Guides practice and teach these techniques all summer. As such you are more likely to learn an efficient way to pull someone out quickly from a guide than from a friend who practices every once in awhile.

 

Jason

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A trick that someone showed me when travelling in 2 person rope teams (or any number of people on a rope for that matter) is to tie a butterfly knot in the rope between you and the other person. After setting the initial anchor, it's easier to clip off the fallen climber to the loop (rather than setting up a prusik or ascender), transfer the weight to the anchor, then fiddle with equalizing the anchor with two free hands.

 

 

This is an excellent tip.

 

My only other comment on this matter is that you really have to practice this - in a realistic manner - to become proficient enough to use it effectively in the mountains, where your difficulties may be compounded by darkness, wind, snow, etc.

 

Once you've got the three person drill dialed, set something up (with the appropriate backups) where you'll feel the full force of a person's weight pulling on you, and you have to establish an anchor/escape the belay/rig and tend a pulley system.

 

Each step has unique challenges and complications that you have to experience and overcome first hand. It took me about three repetions before I felt like I'd actually be able to execute it on my own in a real situation.

 

Oddly enough, I felt that transferring the load to the anchor was the least complicated part, and only ran into real problems when trying to set-up a pulley system. After I pulled some rope through the system by moving away from the anchors, I would have to move back towards the anchors to move the prusiks a few feet further down the loaded strand, and when I did so all of the rope that I had moved through the system got pulled back out by the load on the rope, and I ended up just yo-yoing the guy on the end of the rope up and down.

 

The next time, I affixed a Tibloc in front of the first pulley in the place of a prusik, which essentially made this pully into a one way system - I pulled the rope through the pulley and it ran freely through the Tibloc, but when I stopped hauling the and a few inches of rope moved backwards in the direction of the load, theTibloc caught it and this enabled me to tend the elements of the pulley system more freely (the tibloc and the anchor were holding the load strand in place, rather than tension supplied by me), and haul the load on the end of the rope more efficiently.

 

Essentially this worked like having a mini-traxion as the loaded pulley. As I am sure others will note, there are some hazards associated with having a hauling system that is not reversible (for at least a few feet) and may suggest ways to deal with this problem via some cordalette sized cord, a munter-mule, etc.

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I think knots tied in an effort to keep the rope from going deeper into the crevasse is full of more problems than any benefits it is supposed to solve. Should one of those knots arrive below the lip, you just kissed the rescue hauling ability of that section of rope goodbye.

 

If you are being thoughtful about rope handling (minimal slack), a person falling into a crevasse shouldn't go that deep anyway. Anything that you may have done to inhibit your ability to raise or lower the rope (like knots) will be regretted due to the time and complexity that these sort of things add.

 

One of the better discussions I've seen on the subject is in a rescue technique book by Bill March (Modern Rope Techniques, my edition is 1986). He may have included the discussion in other later titles, but I don't know that for certain. Amazon lists a couple of choices that are more recent than my copy, see here or other titles that might mention it, since they are also by the same author here.

 

One of the principles put forth there is that whatever rescue system you come up with must be reversible, that is, you must be able to adapt it if for some reason you decide you have to be able to lower after you started raising. Rather than trying to do a detailed instruction on it here, check out the book or get a guide to teach with this sort of principle in mind.

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... Should one of those knots arrive below the lip, you just kissed the rescue hauling ability of that section of rope goodbye...

 

I would think it would also be difficult to prusik past such knots. Probably not a big deal if there is only one or two of them though.

 

I like F8's tip about a knot close to the climber to quickly clip to an anchor. thumbs_up.gif

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Hi Jason,

 

It sounds like most of the people on this site could use some professional instruction, based on all the bullshit advice they offer.

 

It's good to see that at least you have your systems down! See you in Red Rocks soon I hope smile.gif

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I dropped into the void on a crevasse once. My buddies didn't have any trouble catching me, but the rope cut way into the lip. That makes getting out awkward. It's usually pretty hard to fall in. I was being cheeky when I did it.

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Get a copy of Andy Selter's book "Glacier Travel & Crevasse Rescue. He deals with it on page 110 and following.

The key is to have your Bachmann already tied with the loop in your carabiner, and a picket within easy reach from an arrest position. Place the picket, clip the loop from the Bachmann, ease the weight of your partner onto the anchor, set your backup, check on your partner and go from there.

Don't even think about being able to do it in real life without practice, practice and more practice!

Dan

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As I am sure others will note, there are some hazards associated with having a hauling system that is not reversible (for at least a few feet) and may suggest ways to deal with this problem via some cordalette sized cord, a munter-mule, etc.

 

This is why it is good to always have a knife handy as well!

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... Should one of those knots arrive below the lip, you just kissed the rescue hauling ability of that section of rope goodbye...

 

I would think it would also be difficult to prusik past such knots. Probably not a big deal if there is only one or two of them though.

 

I like F8's tip about a knot close to the climber to quickly clip to an anchor. thumbs_up.gif

 

Its not very hard to prusik around a knot (especially if one is a tibloc). You just need a 3rd little piece of 6mil. You also need a third prusik as the rescuer if you plan to haul past butterfly knots. The knots usually shouldn't end up between the crevasse lip and the victim. If they do it means that a monster whipper was taken, the knot was tied to close to the victim ( tie the 1st at least 2m away from each person) and/or there was too much slack in the rope (a bad scene all around). If you can't haul the butterfly through the lip, use a different rope (your coils) and prep a new lip.

 

Pre-tying a "clip in" knot in the rope can cause more problems than it solves. Good luck clipping your anchor to it while the rope is under tension and you are splayed out in self arrest. You are adding an unneccessary step to the whole process, and you probably won't be able to reach the knot anyway. You also can't use your prusik as a belay. Stick with the prusik systems. There are lots of them and they work well. Take a class, read a book, and go do practice (a lot). Another skill people rarely practice is prusiking up over a lip (serious pain in the ass) or using a second rope when the loaded rope is cut too deep into the lip (this is what carrying coils is for). Or rappeling in to the crevasse to perform 1st aid then climbing out. It could happen...

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A version of Figger_Eight's suggestion of placing a butterfly knot is to actually place more than one butterfly knot at regular intervals between the two climbers.

 

In this scenario, the lead climber who is the more experienced one (the guide perhaps) is doing the route finding. He counts on the second climber to catch him in case of a crevasse fall. The knots in between teh two dig into the snow as the rope cuts the lip of the crevasse, hence taking up some of the tension from the second (the client). The client holds his position, while the guide helps himself out of the crevasse. There is not an expectation on the second to be hauling the lead climber in this case.

 

Erden.

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I have a thought to simplify/complicate things. I have toyed with the idea of using a petzl mini traxion pulley/ascender and attaching foot loops to it for glacier travel. If someone goes in, you arrest and place an anchor, then clip the leg loops (attached to traxion) into the anchor. At this point, you already have the ratchet component of the pulley system, and just need to finish off the rest of it. It works as an ascender as well, so if you fall in, you can get out. Seems to work much smoother than the autoblock system, and I find that if you need to work a tension release mechanism, it simplifies things a bunch. Problem is that it's a pretty heavy peice of metal to be bouncing around your crotch when your just walking. Anybody have any thoughts on this? fruit.gif

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My advice is to Heed the advice of Miller, Jason_Martin, Dylan_Taylor (all guides). Seek qualified instruction (ie: a proffesional guide) Practice, practice, practice. And make sure you're practicing a proven method. Mini-traxions, extra knots, etc. can end up biting you in the ass in a lot of situations. One of the most common mistakes I see is a climber daisy-chaining their leg loop prussik too tightly so that there is zero slack in the bundled cordage when the weight of the fallen victim is applied to the rope. This effect is compounded by the climber being unattentive to his/her prussik configuration sliding forward on the rope during travel. If the bundled leg loops end up being tentioned it's nearly impossible for the rescuer to deploy the leg loop prussiks and attach them to the primary anchor, therby releiving the load from the rescuer to the initial anchor. Big problem! It's good to bundle your shit up so it doesn't dangle and get in your way, but don't fall victim to the taught daisy chain. You must also be able to access the stowed/daisied leg loops from the self arrest position with one hand. Crouching and bending your upper body to reach something will generally not work and may end up causing you to loose your load-bearing position in the snow.

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OK, I am no mountaineer but assuming the leader is not seriusly hurt seems the easiest and safest method would be for him to self rescue by simply jug out. Hauling off a snow anchor (up to 3X anchor load) to pull the leader out seems like a last resort, especially with a two man team. But then I gues you wouldn't get to practice your rescue rescue system and isn't that what mountaineering is all about?

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