About Rigging for Rescue

Rigging for Rescue offers technical ropework seminars renowned for their focus on applying the critical thinking and systems analysis skills required to competently incorporate ropework and rigging into effective rescue systems. For more information visit www.riggingforrescue.com

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Grand Teton National Park

We recently returned from a Rigging for Rescue seminar on contract with the Jenny Lake climbing ranger cadre of Grand Teton National Park.  It is always a privilege to train in beautiful settings such as the Tetons. Additionally, the Jenny Lake ranger cadre is a very experienced crew of practitioners that bring a lot of skills to the table. The discussions and exploration of topics/techniques is generally much richer in depth and breadth, given the vast amount of collective rescue experience in such a team as the Jenny Lake rangers.

Each day we traveled by boat across Jenny Lake itself in order to access the granite crags in Cascade Canyon, near the base of Baxter Pinnacle. We covered a bit of refresher material, some new command & control ideas, pickoffs, litter work, and a big Guiding Line that traveled over the rugged talus field adjacent to the popular Practice Rocks cragging area.
2-attendant litter work above Jenny Lake

The ever reliable 540 Rescue Belay device

 Pickoff stations near Hidden Falls

Helmets and PFDs - safety first!

The Tetons
Vertical litter orientation for high angle

RfR Specialty Techniques - Ouray, Colorado

Our recent spring open enrollment offering of RfR Specialty Techniques included a diverse group of practitioners. We had folks from mountain rescue teams, special operations community members, and  even a participant from the Danish navy.

Topics and techniques explored included:

  • a detailed discussion of artificial high directionals including the construction and use of a Sideways A-Frame bipod
  • a mid-face litter pickoff 
  • the Kootenay Highline System in a spectacular location across the Ouray Ice Park gorge
  • the San Juan Pickoff along with multi-pitch transitions 
  • and much more
    Kootenay Highline System

    Mid-face litter pickoff

    Station management at a hanging belay

    Multi-pitch transition using the San Juan Pickoff

    Sideways A-Frame
The last exercise was particularly challenging as it included a hanging belay transition - similar to what you would find in a big wall setting.  When you cannot unweight the system via a stance, all of the tension transfer tools in your toolbox need to be well applied and carefully considered.  In a hanging belay, it is very "self critiquing" when you don't get the steps just right. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Avalanche rescue course

This past week in Silverton, several members of the Rigging for Rescue instructor cadre got the unique opportunity to participate in an avalanche rescue course instructed by Swiss avalanche rescue guru Manuel Genswein.  It was a "pro" level course designed for ski patrollers, forecasters, and mountain rescue personnel intent on increasing their depth and breadth of knowledge in avalanche rescue.

Manuel comes from a background of electrical engineering and has had a role in designing some of the more innovative avalanche beacons in the industry.  When he is instructing on the topic of beacons, it seems as if he has 457 kHz flux lines radiating out of his brain. His command of the material is impressive.

The course focused exclusively on avalanche rescue procedures.  This is unique within the realm of avalanche awareness education. Typically, an avy awareness course will cover a wide range of skill sets ranging from beacon use, to snow stability evaluation techniques, as well as decision-making as it relates to skiing or traveling in avalanche prone terrain. All important considerations.  However, this course limited the scope of focus to just the rescue side of the problem-solving - i.e. how to shovel more efficiently, multiple burial detection, and a whole host of other topics.  It was a superb course and we all felt privileged to be able to attend.

Following the pro course, Manuel put on a recreational course both in Durango as well as Ouray.  The rec course in Ouray was co-sponsored by Ouray Mountain Rescue and the same crew of RfR instructors all pitched in to act as volunteer proctors for the day. We had 32 participants attending a free clinic on avalanche rescue.  It was a great turnout and participants were glowing about the information they received from one of the top educators in the subject of avalanche rescue.

Following the clinic, we took Manuel up on a short ski tour in the San Juan's.  He had a 6am flight to Canada the next morning.  Manuel instructs in 27 countries around the world and his techniques have been adopted by the International Commission for Alpine Rescue (IKAR).  His educational style and curriculum has a lot of parallels to RfR:  critical thinking, systems analysis, and empiricism.

Thank you Manuel for an inspiring week of avalanche rescue education!

Ski tour on Red Mtn Pass

Manuel with RfR instructors Kevin and Leo

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Waterfall Ice Workshop

We just wrapped up our first RfR Waterfall Ice Workshop for 2016.  We had a diverse group of participants from the US and Canada.  The Canadians from Newfoundland continued to remark how "amazing" it was that we had yet another day of Bluebird sunny weather.  And we continued to inform them that this was perfectly normal in Colorado...

The workshop started with a base foundation of movement skills on ice and then transitioned into a critical evaluation of climbing belay techniques as well as companion rescue skills and multi-pitch strategies on an ice climb.  By the middle of the week we moved into team-based rescue skills on ice including the San Juan pickoff as well as some litter work. The wrap-up exercise was a multi-pitch ascent to a mock patient location followed by a 5-pitch lower back down to flat ground. An excellent training exercise to cap off a superb week of rescue work in the waterfall ice environment.

Counter-balance rappel pickoff

Multi-pitch lowers down an ice climb

Leading steep ice

Transitioning to low angle terrain

Team approach to base of ice

Station transition using v-thread anchors for Main & Belay