Crevasse Rescue Practice - The student was caught by the backup belay

Don't take for granted that a knot you tied in February is still the same knot by June.
David Shema David Shema
Safety Committee Member
September 10, 2020

As Mountaineers, we are committed to learning from our experiences. We examine every incident that happens on a Mountaineers trip for opportunities to improve the ways we explore and teach. Our volunteer safety committee reviews every incident report and picks a few each month to share as examples of ‘Lessons Learned’. The trip report below describes what happened on this trip, in the leader’s own words, and outlines the lessons the leader has identified. In some cases, we offer additional key learnings from the incident.

Sharing incidents creates an opportunity to analyze specific incidents and also identify larger incident trends. We appreciate every volunteer trip leader who takes the time to share their incidents and near-misses so that others can benefit. We ask that readers engage critically and respectfully in the spirit of sharing and learning.

Mount Baker, Easton Glacier – 2 June

FROM THE INCIDENT DATABASE: LEADER INCIDENT REPORT

LEADER

During crevasse rescue z-pulley practice at Mt Baker, one student was lowered into a crevasse approximately 15 feet. The two students up top began to set up their z-pulley by first building two anchors using preset deadman anchors and their own webbing and carabiners.

The student setting up the anchor used webbing tied with a water knot. The students did not set up the anchor correctly, and before instructors could correct this error the water knot failed.

The student in the crevasse was caught by the backup belay and held until instructors could instruct on proper anchor setup.

Lessons Learned

LEADER

This near miss is being reported because we feel that we should put more emphasis on dressing and stressing knots. We show students how to tie and dress knots throughout the course, however water knots can loosen through just hanging on your harness all season. Knots should be reevaluated and stressed before climbs and use. Don't take for granted that a knot you tied in February is still the same knot by June.

REVIEWER

Sewn runners have advantages.

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