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Worst Case Scenario

Author: jmaher
Date: November 29, 2003
Solve The Problem: The First Scenario

It all started with a bad dream, a nightmare really. An injured climber was hanging from a rope in a tree in a remote wilderness location. Because of the difficulty of traveling with gear to this remote location there was only minimal equipment available to use for a rescue. There was only myself and the injured climber present, and I was still on the ground. The dream ended in a cold sweat and a sleepless remainder of the night. This had only been a dream but the reality is that such a scenario has a real possibility.

Imagine this: You are a person who loves wilderness and wild places. You like to climb trees while you are in these often remote and wild places. Because it is wilderness, because it is remote, you have carried only the minimal amount of gear to reach the tree at the base of which you are now standing. In reaching this tree you have hiked several miles. The walk may have covered swampy boggy ground covered in dense underbrush or perhaps you were in mountains and had crossed several steep ridges on the way to your destination. Because you are carrying everything on your back and because weight and volume are very important considerations you have brought along only one long rope, a one-hundred-and- fifty footer. Your partner has brought along a fifty footer.

The tree you have selected is a very large old-growth poplar. The first limb worthy of being called an anchor is at a height of ninety feet. You have used your trusty wrist rocket slingshot to place some monofilament line and a two-ounce weight over the limb. You have used the monofilament line to haul up your Zingit lightweight throwline, and then used the Zingit to haul up the one-fifty. Since the one-fifty will not reach all the way up, over, and down again, you have tied a figure-eight-on-a-bight in the end of the rope, placed a Rapide link in the loop and run the Zingit through the link. You now continued to haul on the Zingit until you had a situation in which your one fifty was snugged against the anchor limb. There is now between fifty and sixty feet of climbing rope flaked on the ground at the base of the tree.

Your partner begins his climb, using single rope technique, climbing Texas Style with two mechanical ascenders. He is carrying his fifty-footer with him. The idea is that when he reaches the anchor limb he will rig his fifty-footer over the next highest anchor and continue upward, using double rope technique, leaving the one-fifty vacant for you to begin your ascent.

Only your partner never reaches the first anchor limb. At a height of eighty feet above the ground, he is struck by a huge dead limb falling from among the higher branches in the tree. He is now hanging unconscious on the rope. It is your job to get to him, assess his injury, perform whatever first aid you can, and then get him to the ground. How will you do this?

E-mail us or go to our message board with your solutions and we will publish them. We are looking for fresh ideas concerning aerial rescues under worst-case-scenario conditions.

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