Placeholder Routes & Places

Trip Report    

Intermediate Field Trip #4 Emergency Self-Help - Leavenworth

Great site for self-rescue skills outside of the permit-only zone in Icicle.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles

We had 9 students working in 3 teams of 3 - one actively practicing skills, one person being rescued, and one person belaying the rescued party as a backup to the primary skills. Each team had one instructor overseeing the station at all times, plus two instructors floating between teams. Bruce's Boulder is outside the permit area. We can also use a small boulder just upstream if need be. Only one party came to the top of the crag in the afternoon; otherwise, there was no competition for the routes. Very windy on top of the crag, so chilly even with partly cloudy skies (no rain!). One tick came back from Leavenworth in my gear apparently.

The "lecture" a few weeks prior is actually a skills session. First we talk through lessons learned from previous incidents, including Sharkfin Tower and the students have to pinky swear that before using any of the skills we teach in this segment that in the case of an actual rescue they will say out loud and discuss "should we do this?" and not just "can we do this." 0.5 hrs. We worked through new knots (mariners, device slipped half hitch, munter slipped half hitch); talk about the advantages and disadvantages of harness belay, redirected belay, and direct belay; work through how to unweight a direct belay and create a 3:1 pulley for a short haul; and demo rescuing the second from a direct belay using terrain. 2 hrs.

Instructors arrived onsite at 6 am to set up anchors for all stations - independent anchor system for the belayer. One senior instructor safety checks every anchor so at least two people review before using.  Students arrive at 6:30 am ready to go. We talk about the need to avoid rescue in the first place and emphasize group decisionmaking before conducting the skills and check the anchors. 0.5-1 hr.

The first set of skills is the assisted rappel using a cordelette. This is demonstrated by the instructors and all students watch and ask questions. Then the students work through all skills until they can perform with minimal prompting from instructors. 1-1.5 hrs.

The second set of skills involves rescuing a second from a direct belay using actual terrain (fallen climber can briefly unweight the rope). We began with a central demo, then each team works through all 3 positions (rescuer, rescuee, belayer). 1.5-2 hrs.

The final set of skills involves rescuing the second using a harness belay and a technical ledge. 2-3 hrs.

Those who finish early worked on ascending techniques at a separate station.

We finish up with a reminder of their pinky swear and reiterate that even smart people with good judgment can make bad decisions, so be mindful of group decisions.

Each of the teams worked well together, with a good sense of cooperation. A few students need more time to be comfortable with the skills, and we all need to practice these regularly.