Technical Rope Rescue is one of the main disciplines of SAR and we use it regularly. From creating a simple hand-line to stretcher rigging in a high-angle situation, rope rescue team leaders and members train for a multitude of situations. Technical rope rescue differs from recreational climbing in many ways (different rope diameters and stretch capacity, top-down approach as opposed to bottom up, two rope systems instead of single etc.) largely due to the fact that we’re dealing with multi-person loads in a rescue capacity… more ‘We’ factor, less ‘Wheee’ factor.
Rope rescues can present a number of problem-solving opportunities. Each task location requires a thorough assessment of safety and Subject access in mind and the rope system will then be created to match the needs. Every step of the process, however, can present challenges. Staging locations may be less than ideal, the perfect anchor trees may be several degrees off from where we would like them to be and, once over the edge, the terrain can be very different from what was initially anticipated and the whole plan may have to change. Physics, past experience, and team input are all factors in the team leader’s decision-making over the course of the call.
On an individual level, while learning rope skills isn’t usually high on the ‘To Do’ list for most backcountry enthusiasts, it’s can be helpful to learn a few basic knots. Several books and online resources are available to help ‘show you the ropes’, so before your next venture, take a look and try your hand at it!