Technical Self-Rescue for Climbers


  • Imagine a rock leader taking a fall and breaking an ankle. You want to lower them, but you don't have enough rope.
  • Imagine taking a family member out who has never climbed before. They get half-way up a top-rope problem and freeze. They won't climb up or lower down.
  • Imagine your partner, whipping under a roof that you lead. They can't reach the wall and can't get back on the route. They're stuck.


AAI guides Andrew Yasso and Erin Smart are lowered together on a cow's tail. This technique allows a climber to lower two people at the same time.

AAI guides Andrew Yasso and Erin Smart are lowered together on a cow's tail. This technique allows a climber to lower two people at the same time. Jason Martin

Each of the preceding problems could happen to any climber, anytime, anywhere. If you are not prepared to deal with these issues, a minor epic could easily evolve into a full-on situation where somebody gets seriously hurt or dies. Self-rescue is an absolutely essential skill.

Our rescue courses address what you can do with the minimal gear that you normally carry in the mountains. In other words, we want climbers to be able to do most of the things that a Search and Rescue crew might do with a large amount of gear and helicopter support, with nothing more than a rack and a rope.

Rescue skills should be thought of as a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum is the climber who can't pull a move and needs their partner to rig a quick hauling system for assistance. On the other end of the spectrum is the seriously injured climber who needs to be lowered down tricky multi-pitch terrain with a lot of assistance. There is a tremendous amount of material in the entire spectrum of rock rescue and only a small amount of it can be addressed in a two-hour session.

Rock-rescue is a life long learning process. You never know when you will need to use this material and the more knowledge that you have, the better the outcome will be in any real rescue situation.

Technical Self-Rescue for Climbers


Students will demonstrate improvised rescue proficiency in a wide array of self-rescue and rock-rescue scenarios.


Curriculum Highlights

A climber works a high-end rescue scenario with multiple patients.

A climber works a high-end rescue scenario with multiple patients. Michael Powers

  • Self-Rescue Hauling - 2:1, 3:1, 5:1, 6:1
  • Pulley Systems
  • Load Transfers
  • Lowering Systems - with a munter-hitch, super-munter, tube-style device, and autoblocking device
  • Anchor Systems
  • 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
  • Passing Knots
  • Multi-Pitch Descents with a Patient
  • Pick-Offs - patient pickoffs for self-rescue
  • 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
  • Bends - double-fisherman's, overhand flat bend, water bend
  • Hitches - prusik, kliemheist, autoblock, clove, munter, and garda
  • Load Releasable Hitches - munter-mule


On two-day programs, the first day is spent on the ground, practicing all of the multi-pitch rescue techniques.  On the second day, we move into high-angle terrain and repeat the lessons of the previous day with live loads.


Technical Self-Rescue for Climbers


The Technical Self-Rescue for Climbers course was designed to be a dynamic course that can be taught almost anywhere. The value is not greater in one place over another. The curriculum is the same in each course location.   This course can be combined with Techincal Rope Rescue Comprehensive in Washington.


Group Course Dates 


  • July 13 - July 14, 2024
  • Oct. 5 - 6, 2024
  • Nov. 16 - 17, 2024
  • Feb 1 - Feb 2, 2025
  • April 19 - 20, 2025
  • May 17 - 18, 2025
  • July 12 - 13, 2025
  • Oct 04 - 05, 2025
  • Nov 16 - 17, 2025


Red Rock Canyon, NV

  • Nov. 1 - 2, 2024
  • Dec. 6 - 7, 2024
  • Jan. 31 - Feb. 1, 2025
  • Apr. 4 - 5, 2025

Dates available on a private basis. Call for details.  

*This course requires a minimum of two people in order to be confirmed. 


Private Programming

The Technical Self-Rescue for Climbers course may be offered privately in all AAI program areas. Private rates are subject to the program area. Additionally, it may also be possible to offer the course outside of normal program areas. Please contact the AAI office for details.

Some who choose the private programming option prefer to complete one day of training, practice and then come back a month later to complete their second day of training. If an individual puts in a lot of practice time, this can be a very effective way of learning the material. However, if an individual is less inclined to practice, then a two-day program may provide a more effective way of learning.


Private Programming Location Options

  • Squamish, BC
  • Bellingham, WA
  • Mt. Erie, WA
  • Mazama, WA
  • Index, WA
  • Leavenworth, WA
  • Exit 38, WA
  • Frenchman Coulee, WA
  • Bishop, CA
  • Mammoth, CA
  • Lee Vining, CA
  • Joshua Tree National Park, CA
  • Red Rock Canyon, NV

Technical Self-Rescue for Climbers



Climbers who are interested in taking the Technical Self-Rescue for Climbers course should have multi-pitch climbing experience prior to enrollment. Private 1-2 day courses are available for climbers of all skill levels, regardless of experience.


Inclusions and Exclusions for Group Courses

Included with the tuition are instructors, group equipment, permit fees, and transportation to and from field program locations.  A live Zoom gear consult is also included.

Excluded are front-country lodging, personal climbing equipment, transportation to the meeting place, food, trip insurance, camping equipment, and guide gratuities.



Technical Self-Rescue for Climbers

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