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By NickO
From Utah
Apr 13, 2013
I am sure there are some other threads out there on this and perhaps I will die before putting these systems into practice but here goes.

What skills should the prepared and competent trad leader have dialed?
3:1
Ascending and Descending a fixed line
Escaping the belay
Down aiding


Mostly guessing here and feel like I could figure out how to make things work if I was in a pinch but just want to have things a little more dialed and make sure I have the equipment with me to get it done.

So, what equipment would you bring on a multi-pitch route and what skills should you have to feel confident you can avoid an epic given things start to turn into a goat rodeo.

I have friends with the knowledge but when the sun is shining and there is a splitter above you, who wants to set up a 3:1 on the ground?

Aside from Freedom of the Hills, is there another good self rescue resource that you would recommend over another?

Little scatter brained there but thanks folks.

Cheers

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By bearbreeder
Apr 13, 2013
since this is in the beginners section ... i suggest starting simple and knowing what to do for the most common scenarios ...

- drop your belay device ... munter/biner brake

- rap past your anchors .... reascend the rope

- damaged rope ... tie off and climb/rap past

- second who cant make the moves ... teach em how to french free, pull up/prussic on the rope ... a 3/5:1 is a last resort

-leader who cant make the moves ... aid, learn how to bail, downclimb

- leader/climber gets hit by rock or because of a fall cant continue ... beyond lowering back to a ledge, if possible, and tandem rapping/lowering down (which can make the injury worse) ... this is honestly beyond the scope of beginners ... if theyre that hurt the best choice is realistically to pull out the phone/SPOT/PLB and press the big red button ...

notice how i focused on SCENARIOS rather than specific skills ....

KISS for beginners ... i remember a friend of mine teaching newbies rescue skills when many of em couldnt even lead climb or do multi ...

ive also seen people yak about how theyre so proficient in this and that fancy rescue skills and only climb with people who are so proficient ... and then they make the most basic mistakes ... or couldnt climb worth shiet

practice these skills at 1-2 times a year ... like anything else reading about it on the intrawebs or freedom of the hills doesnt mean you can do it ... do it on rainy days since if you can do it well in the cold, dark and wet ... thats when youll probably need em

;)

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By NickO
From Utah
Apr 13, 2013
Solid advice. Best resource to learn the actual skills for said scenarios?

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By bearbreeder
Apr 13, 2013
1. a guide for the more advanced stuff ... i dont often advise people that they need a guide ... but this is one course thats worth taking ... guides generally use these skills more than other people and can give tricks and tips not in books/vids ... youll get more if you read up and practice the basics of course before taking the course/private instruction .... mountain festivals often have guides offering these courses at a low price

2. an experienced durty old geezer who you ply with beer and your tender youth ... for the more basic stuff .... even then beware as everyone does things different

3. the book below and practice with screaming (to simulate real life) willing victims ... just to be sure to have someone supervise and check yr systems to start with ... for the basics


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By dirtbag
From Bellingham, WA
Apr 13, 2013
i really enjoyed this drive to the tetons... can't wait to make it back to WY
First off, good job thinking about this stuff. Now, listen to what I have to say and you will become proficient at self rescue. Disregard this, and you probably won't know what to do when shit hits the fan. I mean this in the best intentioned way. :D

Being able to handle all of the common bad scenarios on a multi pitch route requires far more practice than 1x/year. Once/year is all most people are willing to invest, but that's not enough repetition to really hone the skills and learn all the little things that really make the difference. Everyone should be aware of this before venturing off to places like Patagonia where the consequences of not being able to respond quickly are extremely serious.

The first step to competence with self rescue is learning the basics until you can do them without any hesitation (see at the end of this post). Think of this as learning the ABC's before learning how to write a novel.

Then hire a GOOD American Mountain Guides Association certified guide to teach you how to apply the skills (not all guides have their teaching skills and self rescue skills dialed enough to teach). If you come with your prerequisite skills very dialed, this will take 2 days x 2. This may be expensive, but you will come away with a thourough enough working understanding of self rescue to stay proficient on your own the rest of your life. This will likely require you to run through a 45min rescue drill 2 or 3 x / year.

Prerequisite skills:
- one handed munter
- munter-mule **
- one handed clove
- autoblock, kelmheist. A prussic is more practical for glacier travel application or dealing with icy ropes.
- getting hands free from a belay. This is different from escaping the belay. Both are shown in this awesome video: sportiva.com/live/live-archive...

That's it!

Sorry about the long winded answer, but this question in particular deserves a thorough response. Good luck and stay safe out there!

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By dirtbag
From Bellingham, WA
Apr 13, 2013
i really enjoyed this drive to the tetons... can't wait to make it back to WY
and the book that bearbreeder suggested above is my favorite. I suggest getting multiple books. I remember referencing different books for different qualities (ie better illustrations, more modern techniques, etc).

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By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Apr 13, 2013
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogstick Ridge link-up.  Photo by Myriam Bouchard
In terms of advice, I think Bearbreeder has said it all. The book he mentions is one of the standard references, having superseded the previous classic by Fasulo. But Fasulo came back with a revision that makes it a worthy competitor, with realistic perspectives that are often missing in the literature. amazon.com/Self-Rescue-2nd-Cli... . I think any climber ought to have both.

I also think it is worth having a look at how they do things in the UK. There are some small but interesting differences. See, for example, the following video from Steve Long, which illustrates a cleaner, faster system than the conventional U.S. one demonstrated by Olivia Cussen and the crying baby. (Among a number of other things, the Long system doesn't require the belayer to have a spare cordelette and cuts out a lowering step that uses that cordelette.)

.

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By Maurice Chaunders
Apr 13, 2013
Colombian Crack
Heed douchebag's advice or yer gunna die

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By NickO
From Utah
Apr 13, 2013
On behalf of myself and hopefully other folks surfing around for knowledge we really appreciate the insight. I think it's really valuable to have a mindset to want to teach and share with those less experienced than you, rather than call them "noobs?" and let your ego take over. The whole idea of a climbing "community" falls to the wayside pretty quick when people try to tell you how much stronger, smarter, and more badass they are. Especially via the interwebs. Look forward to practicing these techniques. Thanks again

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By dirtbag
From Bellingham, WA
Apr 13, 2013
i really enjoyed this drive to the tetons... can't wait to make it back to WY
mike seaman wrote:
Heed douchebag's advice or yer gunna die


if you have better advice, let's hear it. Also, if you think my advice is poor or the deliverance could be better, let's hear it.

I'm overly to the point and brash with my deliverance sometimes, but my advice is sound and based on experience. That's what this place is for - to share experience.

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By dirtbag
From Bellingham, WA
Apr 13, 2013
i really enjoyed this drive to the tetons... can't wait to make it back to WY
In terms of advice, I think Bearbreeder has said it all. The book he mentions is one of the standard references, having superseded the previous classic by Fasulo. But Fasulo came back with a revision that makes it a worthy competitor, with realistic perspectives that are often missing in the literature. amazon.com/Self-Rescue-2nd-Cli... . I think any climber ought to have both. I also think it is worth having a look at how they do things in the UK. There are some small but interesting differences. See, for example, the following video from Steve Long, which illustrates a cleaner, faster system than the conventional U.S. one demonstrated by Olivia Cussen and the crying baby. (Among a number of other things, the Long system doesn't require the belayer to have a spare cordelette and cuts out a lowering step that uses that cordelette.)
>

Hey rgold,
Is an autoblock releasable when fully loaded? I know a prussic and klemheist are not. Wow if that is the case: that would practically eliminate the need for a munter-mule! His victim was not fully loading his belay device in the video, which makes me doubt his methods, but I have yet to try it.

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By Robert Cort
Apr 13, 2013
dirtbag wrote:
Hey rgold, Is an autoblock releasable when fully loaded?


When you refer to "autoblock" I assume you're talking about a rappel backup below the device? If so, it never really gets "fully loaded". It substitutes as your brake hand, if it locks, lift the rope from below and un-lock it. If you're talking about using a belay device in guide mode, different answer, but still releasable under load.

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By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Apr 13, 2013
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogstick Ridge link-up.  Photo by Myriam Bouchard
dirtbag wrote:
Hey rgold, Is an autoblock releasable when fully loaded? I know a prussic and klemheist are not. Wow if that is the case: that would practically eliminate the need for a munter-mule! His victim was not fully loading his belay device in the video, which makes me doubt his methods, but I have yet to try it.


It eliminates the need for a Munter mule on the sling with the autoblock and so simplifies the belay escape.

I've tried the system out and have always been able to release the autoblock. You have the rope to which the autoblock is fastened attached to the anchor with a Munter mule, and that Munter mule you tighten up as much as possible before releasing the autoblock, so perhaps a little bit of the suspended weight is already on the anchor via the main rope.

Robert Cort wrote:
When you refer to "autoblock" I assume you're talking about a rappel backup below the device?


No, absolutely not. We are speaking of a friction knot (called a "French Prusik" in the Steve Long video) which is often used as an autoblocking knot for rappel backup, precisely because of its releasability.

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By Robert Cort
Apr 13, 2013
rgold wrote:
No, absolutely not. We are speaking of a friction knot (called a "French Prusik" in the Steve Long video) which is often used as an autoblocking knot for rappel backup, precisely because of its releasability.


My bad.

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By john strand
From southern colo
Apr 13, 2013
Maybe after another 35 years on rock i will understand "escape the belay".. THEN what do you do ? downclimb w/o a rope ? solo up to the dead leader ? WHAT

Sorry i don't get it.. i never escape the belay until it's time to rap off, always stay tied into the rope..etc

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By MaraC
Apr 13, 2013
taking a break from climbing shoes before rapping off Arrow
I hope it goes without saying, but the best self-rescue skill is knowing how to avoid a rescue situation in the first place. Know your limits. Know your second's limits. What's the weather likely to do? When's sunset?

Beyond that, I agree with everyone else. The munter-mule is almost like magic. I really like the Fasulo book, but Craig Leubben has some tips that are really helpful too. And there's a book on my mentor's shelf that walks through different scenarios in a really clear and concise manner. I don't remember what it is at the moment, but I will go over and sneak a peek.

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By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Apr 13, 2013
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogstick Ridge link-up.  Photo by Myriam Bouchard
john strand wrote:
Maybe after another 35 years on rock i will understand "escape the belay".. THEN what do you do ? downclimb w/o a rope ? solo up to the dead leader ? WHAT Sorry i don't get it.. i never escape the belay until it's time to rap off, always stay tied into the rope..etc


I almost agree with you. Of course belay escape by itself is worthless unless you know what to do next and are able to do it. At best, people are practicing for events that are extremely unlikely. At worst, they get themselves killed and would have been way better off shouting for help.

That said, there are certainly plausible scenarios in which it would be necessary to either ascend or descend to an incapacitated fallen climber, or in which it would be necessary to escape up or down the route by oneself. I've never had to do it in 56 years of climbing, but I know people who have, and I've read about a few accidents to people I don't know in which belay escape and further actions were needed. I also know of at least one person who would be alive today if his partner had known how to escape the belay and help him ascend back to the belay ledge, but that incident was way back in the times of soft-iron pitons, hip belays, swami belts, and Goldline ropes, when no one knew much if anything about self-rescue.

One thing I think you can count on is that if, god forbid, you have to use some of those self-rescue skills, the rehearsed scenarios are probably not going to work. The point of acquiring the skills is to have a broad range of techniques and options from which to improvise.

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By Jason Kim
From San Diego, CA
Apr 14, 2013
Descending Cox Col (Bear Creek Spire). Photo by Ryan Slaybaugh. <br />
Slightly off topic, but I think that much of the above emphasizes the value of a solid partnership. Self-rescue is a topic I've been thinking about a lot, and it is more than a little disturbing when I am forced to acknowledge the fact that most of these skills are designed to help my partner, more so than myself. I want my partner to be able to depend on me in an accident, of course, but I will selfishly admit that I would like it to work both ways.

Unless you have actually practiced running through scenarios with your partner, it would seem to be a crap shoot whether you can/should depend on them in an emergency.

If I'm climbing with someone new, or if I have any doubt about their ability to handle an emergency, you can be sure that I will stick to climbs that are comfortably below my limit. But that's just me.


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By bearbreeder
Apr 14, 2013
i think it bears repeating to make it totally clear

if you are a beginner ... and this question was asked in a beginner forum ... you arent going to be able to do much if your partner gets seriously injured

which is why i listed the most common basic scenarios above ... namely dropped or damaged essential gear, missing raps, etc ...

as someone mentioned pick climbs that you can do and are within SAR and communication distance ...

have a headlamp, have enough food/water, have a light rain jacket, have a firestarter or an emergency insulation to survive the night ... because SAR wont be able to get to you till the morning

theres a lot of people on the internet and at the crags bragging about how they can set up this fancy u-haul system, escape from S&M bondage belays, revive zombies with their WFA, etc ... while one or two might actually be able to do it, usually the professionals ... the rest are totally full of shiet, unless you practice and train constantly like SAR teams do, youd be hard pressed to apply it in a real life scenario where its cold, wet, dark and yr partner is unconcious

which is why i suggest going out in the cold rain and try to prussik a rope or hauling someone up if youre going to do it ... and it doesnt take away from yr climbing days

the biggest defense you have is that gray matter between your ears and your ability to not fall (climbing ability)

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By rgold
From Poughkeepsie, NY
Apr 14, 2013
The traverse out to the Yellow Ridge on the Dogstick Ridge link-up.  Photo by Myriam Bouchard
bearbreeder wrote:
...theres a lot of people on the internet and at the crags bragging about how they can set up this fancy u-haul system, escape from S&M bondage belays, revive zombies with their WFA...


Hahah---agreed. Self-rescue is mostly for relatively casual situations; if things are really serious (e.g. an unconscious climber unable to help with the process) the chances are low that a rescue can be performed without outside help, and we shouldn't forget that self-rescue procedures can be fraught with danger and carry the risk of a far worse outcome for both climbers.

That said, although it sounds callous, a person really ought to be able to escape (and of course go for help) rather than being trapped on the wall with a severely injured partner when help isn't available.

Perhaps the real use of self-rescue techniques is having lots of tricks up your sleeve for times when things go wrong. Here's an example involving someone I know.

The belay for the second was from an autoblocking device on the anchor. The second was climbing overhanging terrain, fell off, and swung into space with no ability to get back to the rock. The autoblocking device, at the instant of full loading, wedged against an inconspicuous corner and couldn't be budged, making it impossible to lower the second. The belay was off to the side, so the free rope couldn't be lowered to the second, and, as it turned out, the second did not know how to prusik.

The belay device had to be unweighted. The belayer set up a classic 3:1 haul, but realized immediately that it wouldn't work as usual, because the rope wouldn't run through the belay device. So he rearranged the ratcheting prusik so that it was below the hauling prusik (here's where the grey matter bearbreeder mentioned was required) and hauled away anyway, with at best a (1.7):1 mechanical advantage, but with the knowledge that only a few inches would be needed to unweight the device.

A herculean effort gained the requisite inches, and the usual belay escape procedures were used to remove the autoblock, replace it with a munter hitch, and lower the hanging second. Epic resolved.

Of course, the real problem was that the second didn't know how to extricate themselves, but that's what happened. The leader could also be criticized for not anticipating that rock features might interfere with the autolocking device, but of course nothing would ever go wrong in climbing if everyone always foresaw every possibility. He is now very aware that there are anchor configurations for which an autoblock shouldn't be used, and that makes him more sophisticated than most users.

The point is that the leader's knowledge of self-rescue procedures, combined with the ability to think just a touch beyond the typical configurations practiced, was enough to resolve the problem without having to push that red button bearbreeder referred to.

Personally, I've never had to escape a belay or do something like an assisted rappel in 56 years of climbing. I once had to prusik down a weighted rappel line to rescue a partner who was stuck and hanging in space, but that's it. The "rescue" involved unweighting the partner's device and so was not entirely trivial; it helped to know all kinds of options. Again, this was a situation the partner should have been able to resolve on their own, but as it turned out this was not the case.

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By john strand
From southern colo
Apr 16, 2013
rgold wrote:
Hahah---agreed. Self-rescue is mostly for relatively casual situations; if things are really serious (e.g. an unconscious climber unable to help with the process) the chances are low that a rescue can be performed without outside help, and we shouldn't forget that self-rescue procedures can be fraught with danger and carry the risk of a far worse outcome for both climbers. That said, although it sounds callous, a person really ought to be able to escape (and of course go for help) rather than being trapped on the wall with a severely injured partner when help isn't available. Perhaps the real use of self-rescue techniques is having lots of tricks up your sleeve for times when things go wrong. Here's an example involving someone I know. The belay for the second was from an autoblocking device on the anchor. The second was climbing overhanging terrain, fell off, and swung into space with no ability to get back to the rock. The autoblocking device, at the instant of full loading, wedged against an inconspicuous corner and couldn't be budged, making it impossible to lower the second. The belay was off to the side, so the free rope couldn't be lowered to the second, and, as it turned out, the second did not know how to prusik. The belay device had to be unweighted. The belayer set up a classic 3:1 haul, but realized immediately that it wouldn't work as usual, because the rope wouldn't run through the belay device. So he rearranged the ratcheting prusik so that it was below the hauling prusik (here's where the grey matter bearbreeder mentioned was required) and hauled away anyway, with at best a (1.7):1 mechanical advantage, but with the knowledge that only a few inches would be needed to unweight the device. A herculean effort gained the requisite inches, and the usual belay escape procedures were used to remove the autoblock, replace it with a munter hitch, and lower the hanging second. Epic resolved. Of course, the real problem was that the second didn't know how to extricate themselves, but that's what happened. The leader could also be criticized for not anticipating that rock features might interfere with the autolocking device, but of course nothing would ever go wrong in climbing if everyone always foresaw every possibility. He is now very aware that there are anchor configurations for which an autoblock shouldn't be used, and that makes him more sophisticated than most users. The point is that the leader's knowledge of self-rescue procedures, combined with the ability to think just a touch beyond the typical configurations practiced, was enough to resolve the problem without having to push that red button bearbreeder referred to. Personally, I've never had to escape a belay or do something like an assisted rappel in 56 years of climbing. I once had to prusik down a weighted rappel line to rescue a partner who was stuck and hanging in space, but that's it. The "rescue" involved unweighting the partner's device and so was not entirely trivial; it helped to know all kinds of options. Again, this was a situation the partner should have been able to resolve on their own, but as it turned out this was not the case.


R- I agree one many of these issues. i learned from some of your buds... Al Rubin, Kevin,, John b etc.. I really think that so manyof these basic things are forgoten.

the leader MUST realize that the second is a beginner.. assume nothing..don't get into the situation in the first place

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