Sunday, March 7, 2010

Snapshot Sunday: Rocks & Ice

AMRG teammates Bill Evans and Chris Ruch. Improvised rescue training at Ohiopyle on Saturday.

When I was in high school, my idiot friends showed me how to rappel using two carabiners with some gold line threaded through them. Somehow I survived the experience. (Survived driving around in cars with the same maroons, which is a somewhat greater miracle.)

This week, I left my mini rack, my mechanical ascenders, and most of my heavy stuff down in the parking lot. Re-learned how to rappel using one carabiner on the rope with a Munter hitch, one prussik loop as a spacer for the biner, and one French prussik as a self-belay. In other words, less gear than the suicide rigs of my tenuous youth.

My first descent was a little slow, so on my second descent, I took one of the wraps out of the French prussik to speed things up.

Not only did this speed it up, but the 35# pack hanging from the back of my harness may have contributed to the contractual claim that gravity was making on me; additionally, the loss of one wrap made it just long enough to jam into the biner once I was free hanging. Ruh roh.

There were several ways out of this pickle that would have involved breaking out additional prussik loops for feet and harness, and some tedious rigging and de-rigging. So in the spirit of the day's exploration of minimalism, I made a clove hitch out of the main line for my left foot, stood up, an got 'er done. Lesson learned, again, until I forget, again -- check lengths whenever making a change of any kind in the system.

Even though I brought the wrong crampons for my boots, or wore the wrong boots for my crampons, this was probably my favorite technical rescue training in a long while.


  1. I didn't understand half that post, but it sounded like it was quite an experience. Was Pip with you as well for practice or was this just a human-only exercise?

    When I was in high school, my idiot brother (who is not so much an idiot now that he grew up) showed me how to make a car disappear into the night by turning down a side street, flooring it for a few seconds, shifting into neutral, turning off the lights and engine and allow the car to coast.

    I did it once and decided it was a great way to make myself disappear too, into the morgue, which was not part of the plan.

  2. It is a little heavy on the blah blah blah Ginger, isn't it?

    We often bring the dogs to vertical training, and when appropriate, practice with moving dog-handler teams on rope. But this one we gave a miss, because dogs and crampons don't mix well in close quarters. One misstep and you can cripple a dog.

    Yeah, that's the kind of automotive monkeyshines our parents didn't know about.


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