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Rock Climbing Rescue: A Case for a Course

5:1 pulley used in a mock rock climbing rescue scenario.

I recently took a Rock Rescue course through the Colorado Mountain School. It was a two day program held in Boulder, Colorado and taught by AMGA Certified Rock Guide Tim Brown. The course covered everything from tying a prussik to executing multi-pitch rappels with an unresponsive partner. Tim didn’t just teach us theories, he also supervised while we practiced the concepts in real-life scenarios: escaping belays, hauling with mechanical advantages, ascending and descending ropes.

I took this course in a effort to become more self-sufficient in the backcountry. Tim taught me that it doesn’t take a rescue team or specialized equipment to perform most rescues. With just a standard rack and a little know-how, climbers have the ability to remove themselves from many troublesome situations without the assistance of other teams.

The skills taught in this course will make you more comfortable on the rock regardless of your current rescue-related knowledge and ability. After just two days, we had the skills and confidence to make solid decisions in stressful situations. I feel much better about taking a run at that long alpine route, knowing that my partner knows how to haul me through the crux in a sudden downpour, escape the belay in case of an accident, or bail quickly and safely when weather is moving in.

The info covered in Comprehensive Rescue includes:

• Knots and hitches
• Escaping the belay
• Ascending/Descending to an injured climber
• Raising/Lowering systems
• Simul-rappelling
• Multiple rappel transitions with an unresponsive partner
• Passing knots
• Improvising with your equipment

The information in this course is essential to anyone that climbs multi-pitch trad. All too often, climbers are injured or killed in the mountains or at the crag. Do yourself, your partners, and the climbing community a favor… don’t go up unprepared.

Thank you to Tim Brown and the Colorado Mountain School.

– Luke Terstriep

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