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Self Rescue links and notes

This is meant to be a resource colored by my own experiences containing various techniques and thoughts on self rescue.

Stuck Ropes

I recently had a close call descending Lady Luck in Red Rocks. Our ropes wouldn't pull after completing a double rope rappel. After having the four of us each try and pull the ropes, we decided that one of us would need to ascend the ropes to free them. I had vague ideas about how to ascend the rope, but had never practiced it. Fortunately, the terrain was easy enough to climb up without ascending the ropes and I only need to tie in for protection. When I arrived at the rappel station we foolishly passed, I was able to pull the ropes. It turns out, nothing had gotten caught, it was just that the friction in the gully was too much for us to pull through.

This experience prompted me to spend some time researching self rescue techniques. My friend Cathy suggested looking at this guide which has a handy flow chart to aid in decision making when faced with stuck ropes. The most insightful bit of advice was to have someone check to see if the ropes can be pulled before the last person descends. I read this web page on ascending a rope with two prusiks and found it very informative. I always carry two prusiks, one purcell and one standard prusik whenever I do a multipitch climb, but now I know how to properly use them.

Incapacitated/Disabled Follower

The few scenarios I have practiced involve transitioning a disabled follower into a counter weight rappel. This practice involved a few key skills:

  • escaping a belay
  • lowering a follower while in guide mode
  • creating a tensionless hitch

My partner Sarah, created a guide for practicing these techniques.