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More On Rescue

Author: jmaher
Date: September 10, 2004
The hurricane and the accompanying bad weather had moved along. The sun was shining. I felt like doing some climbing. Since I had a willing "victim", my brother, I decided to go out and do a little research on rescue options relating to the problem discussed in the article preceding this one. Research, in this case, meant having my brother climb a few feet up on a rope, insert his leg into the loop created by a safety knot, then lower his Blake's hitch to the point that the Blake's hitch and the safety knot were jammed against each other, with a footloop prussik caught between the two.

I am happy to report that the problem, at least in this case, was a non-problem. Try as we might we were unable to get the loop in the safety knot to cinch tightly around the leg of the "victim." Even when I tugged on the downrope from below, the loop would not tighten around the leg to the point of being anywhere near painful. Furthermore, there was no problem for the "victim" to get a foot back into the footloop, stand, and raise the Blake's hitch.

Keep in mind that my brother is an experienced climber. I do not know whether a novice climber, such as the boy described in the article preceding this one, would have been in possession of enough "cool" to put his foot back in the footloop, stand, and raise the Blake's hitch. Even though the loop did not cinch tightly around my brother's leg, it was still impossible for him to continue the descent without first removing the leg from the loop. A novice climber, finding him/herself in such a predicament, with several people all standing about in a panic and all offering advice at the same time, might not be able to perform a self-rescue in an efficient manner. It might be necessary for the facilitator/instructor to go up alongside the victim and talk her/him through the process.

Why the loop in the safety knot tightened painfully around the leg of the young boy and not around the leg of my brother while playing "victim" is a question that needs to be looked at. It probably has to do with the fact that the young boy was descending at a faster rate of speed and hit the safety knot with more force. I did not want my brother to perform an uncontrolled descent in order to answer that question. I think that this is a question that could best be answered by "Rescue Randy" but until he is available for the experiment I will have to settle for mere speculation on this issue.

That my brother and I were unable to re-enact the scenario should not be cause to set the issue aside. It happened once and it could happen again; however, now that I know that it is possible to perform a self-rescue under these circumstances I feel much better than when I wrote the article preceding this one. I will not set the issue aside until I have performed further "tests" involving high-speed descents with "Randy" as victim.

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