Technical Rope Rescue Comprehensive Overview
A lead climber takes a fall, breaking his wrist and leg, four pitches off the ground. And the only person there to save him is his belayer…
A car goes off a steep mountain highway. The accident victim is injured and stuck on a precarious ledge, fifty-feet down. The local fire department is the only resource available…
An extreme skier slips in a "no-fall-zone" high on a mountainside, his body is lost in a crevasse at the base of a steep and exposed line. The local mountain rescue unit must mobilize to retrieve the skier's body.
A climber navigates a roaring river with a tyrollean traverse.
Each of these scenarios are radically different from one another. The resources available in each situation are different and the responses are different. However, there are many core rescue skills in each scenario that remain the same. Each of the situations requires a high level of proficiency in planning and incident response, risk management, and finally technical rope rescue work.
The first example in the scenario list is exactly what recreational rock and ice climbers may encounter, while the second and third examples are far more likely to be encountered by organized first responders. Unfortunately, most rescuers don't have the skills to deal with all three of these examples. Most either fall squarely in the "climber-self-rescuer" mold or in the "organized-team-rescue" mold. With this problem in mind the American Alpine Institute developed the most comprehensive technical rope and mountain rescue course offered in the country. It is perhaps the only rope rescue program to combine the concepts developed for team rescue with those designed for self-rescue. As a result, those who complete this course will have an extremely high level of skill in all forms of technical rope rescue and will be able to work dynamically in all forms of steep and high-angle rescue.
Rope rescue training programs with experienced instructors exist all over the United States and most of them provide a high level of training. The difference between the AAI model and the other programs available are twofold. First, the AAI Technical Rope Rescue Comprehensive has been designed for competent technical climbers and mountaineers. Instead of spending time on base-level climbing skills like simple belays and rappels, time is spent on "high-end" technical rescue scenarios. Second, while heavy front-country roadside and industrial rescues are addressed, the focus of the program is on light backcountry scenarios.
Rescue Organization Course Objectives
While some may take the rescue comprehensive to build their rope rescue skills, others must complete the course to meet the requirements of an agency. The Technical Rope Rescue Comprehensive meets or exceeds the criteria set forth by the following agencies and organizations:
Mountain Rescue Association Accreditation Requirements: The Technical Rope Rescue Comprehensive will provide students with the baseline skills required by the Mountain Rescue Association for accreditation in both low and high angle evacuation on rock, in snow and on ice. The MRA has three components for individuals:Search, Technical Rock Rescue and Snow and Ice Rescue. The Rescue Comprehensive does not include instruction in missing person searches or avalanche rescue, but does cover all other elements of the accreditation.
American Mountain Guides Association Rock Rescue Skills: The Technical Rope Rescue Comprehensive addresses the self-rescue and rock-rescue skills required by the AMGA for Instructor and Guide Certification. Those who take this course will have a strong understanding of the high-angle rescue scenarios evaluated by the AMGA and will be able to use their knowledge from the Comprehensive to train for Instructor and Guide Level AMGA Exams.
American Mountain Guides Association Crevasse Rescue Skills: The Technical Rope Rescue Comprehensive course will provide students with time to practice the specific crevasse rescue skills required by the AMGA for the Advanced Alpine Guides Course and the Alpine Guides Exam. Students will leave the course with a strong understanding of what the guide organization tests for and will have developed the skills to train for the exam.
Technical Rope Rescue Comprehensive Certificate
Those who complete the technical rope rescue comprehensive will receive two certificates. The first certificate will be for the entire comprehensive, and the second will indicate that you have met the NFPA guidelines for a Rope Rescue Technician.
Technical Rope Rescue Comprehensive Curriculum
Students will demonstrate proficiency in both self and team-rescue on multiple terrain types, including - but not limited to - steep and high-angle rock, snow and ice.
A patient is hauled on steep-angle terrain just outside Mount Baker Ski Area. Jason Martin
Team Rescue Hauling Systems - 3:1, 6:1 and 9:1
Self-Rescue Hauling Systems on Rock and on Snow and Ice - 3:1. 5:1, 6:1
Pulley Systems - simple, compound and complex
Lowering Systems - with a break rack, scarab, munter-hitch, super-munter, tube-style device, and autoblocking device
Anchor Systems - for team rescue and self-rescue on high-angle terrain, steep-angle terrain and on snow and ice.
Lowering Systems with a Litter
Use of a Guiding Line
Use of High Lines and Reeving Systems
Patent Packaging - with and without a harness
Specialized Rescue Equipment - including discussions of Class I-III harnesses, chest harnesses, rigging plates, pulleys, swivels, edge protection, and tripods
Improvised Rescue Equipment - waist and chest harnesses, improvised tri-pods and bipods, high points, and improvised anchors
Rope Climbing Techniques - with a friction-hitch system, with an autoblocking device, with an assisted breaking device
Belay Escapes - off an autoblocking device and off the body
Belays - tandem prusik belays, body belays, belay plates, mechanical belays
Passing Knots - in both a multi-pitch self-rescue setting as well as in a team rescue setting with a litter
Scene Management - command structure
Special Considerations for Mountain Rescue
Crevasse Rescue - critical procedures for team and self-rescue
Multi-Pitch Descents with a Patient in a Self-Rescue Setting
Pick-Offs - patient pickoffs for rope rescue teams and self-rescue
Physics of Rescue Systems on Anchors and on Equipment
Rappelling - classic rappel, extended rappel, tandem rappel, and counterbalance rappel techniques
Knots - figure-eight family, overhand, double-overhand-on-a-bite, bowline, double bowline, long-tail bowline, butterfly, high tension tie-off, wrap-three-pull-two, and wrap-two-pull-one
Bends - double-fisherman's, overhand flat bend, water bend, double sheet bend, frost bend
Hitches - prusik, kliemheist, autoblock, clove, munter, and garda
Load Releasable Hitches - munter-mule and radium-release
Technical Rescue Riggers Guide by Rick Lipke
This text may be purchased at the American Alpine Institute Shop or online.
Climbers who are interested in taking the Technical Rope Rescue Comprehensive course should have experience with traditional climbing, anchors on snow and rock, mountaineering and crevasse rescue systems.
Technical Rope Rescue Comprehensive Dates & Details
Apr 14 - Apr 28, 2018 - Filling Fast!
Sep 29 - Oct 13, 2018 -
The parallel plaquette system is used as a light alternative in mountain rescue. Jason Martin
Inclusions and Exclusions
Included with the tuition are instructors, group equipment (both rescue and climbing), classroom location, permit fees, and transportation to and from field program locations.
Excluded are front-country lodging, personal climbing equipment, transportation to the classroom, food, trip insurance, camping equipment, and guide gratuities.
Any portion of this program, either the complete program or individual pieces of the program may be provided privately at any appropriate location. Please call the American Alpine Institute office for a quote.
Technical Rope Rescue Comprehensive Related Courses
The Wilderness First Responder course is a baseline backcountry
first aid course. Active Search and Rescue personnel are
required to have some level of first aid training. Guides, rangers,
and other outdoor professionals commonly take the Wilderness First
Responder course to obtain their training.
level of avalanche awareness and rescue is essential for all winter
Level II is a professional level of avalanche training. This
course goes deep into the science of avalanche forecasting and
should be considered by ski patrollers, guides, backcountry
rangers, mountain rescue technicians, or anyone else who works in
The Mountain Rescue Association requires avalanche training in
their winter accreditation guidelines. The Technical Rope Rescue
Comprehensive does not cover avalanche rescue in its
PITCH INSTRUCTOR COURSE
The SPI course was designed to help capable recreational
climbers transition into capable and effective climbing
instructors. The course focuses on the technical skills required by
an instructor as they are applied in all forms of single pitch
climbing instruction. In addition to this, the course addresses the
essential educational and environmental tenets required to teach
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