Emergency kit - what do you carry? What for trad abseils?

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PeterHS
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Emergency kit - what do you carry? What for trad abseils?

Post by PeterHS »

Hi again,

I had to abseil off the mountain yesterday without the use of bolts or rings (a trad climb). We had a bit of an adventure because we had got our ropes stuck and had to scramble back up yesterday to recover them, having left them on the mountain face overnight. I reckon it was a case of two ropes joined directly around too a large block that gave too much friction to be able to pull down. It was a safer bet than down-climbing a tricky route in approaching darkness off Muizenberg Crag for the first time.

It was the first time so my climbing partner and I took extra care with choosing abseil points. We used two slings with maillons and two short rather than one long abseil. All went well and we safely descended and recovered the ropes.

So - questions and your comments please......

My friend had two 18mm vehicle straps that he wanted to use. His thesis was that they could be used for heavy attachments and perhaps towing so they were safe. I didn't want to risk using non-climbing gear so I gave up two slings (a red 120cm and a green 60cm if you wish to use return them!).

He also suggested on the second abseil that we could use two of the vehicle straps together for added strength. I didn't like the idea also as I wondered if two might rub together and cut each other even though with a maillon.

What do you use or take in case needed? What size accessory cord is safe and acceptable to you? 8mm, 7mm? Is that useable? I guess cheaper than a sling. I could have cut a length off my 7mm cordelette. Or, what about buying 18mm tape by the metre and cutting to size when needed? Or something else?

Do you take a rescue or recovery pack when trad climbing? If so, what? I always take a knife, two maillons and now some sling tape. What else would be good too (besides first aid kit, whistle, compass, space blanket and energy bars).

TIA as always,

Peter

P.S. What knot do you use to join two half-ropes for abseil too please? Do you add stopper knots or just leave two 30cm tails?


SNORT
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Re: Emergency kit - what do you carry? What for trad abseils?

Post by SNORT »

The more you take the slower you will be. And that increases your risk

Do not take stuff that you cannot use for climbing. So take a leaver biner rather than a mailon unless of course you intend setting up a permanent or semi-permanent abseil point.

If you are embarking on adventurous climbing then make 60cm slings of 6, 7 or 8mm rope. So you can use as a sling or leaver kit. 6mm rope is much stronger than you think when doubled and used a sling.

First aid stuff is again dependent on the the remoteness and the risks you face. Local anaesthetic for a broken ankle or wrist is a very good carry if you know how to use it.
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Nic Le Maitre
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Re: Emergency kit - what do you carry? What for trad abseils?

Post by Nic Le Maitre »

Joining ropes: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=8520&p=47148

Best first aid tool is a fully charged phone. Beyond stopping things that will kill someone quickly (heavy bleeding, further trauma and shock) there is nothing you can do to treat seriously injured people in the hills. Get help as soon as you can.
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Gobsmacked
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Re: Emergency kit - what do you carry? What for trad abseils?

Post by Gobsmacked »

There are several questions posed in this discussion;

1.Carry a small first aid kit - someone could die by the time S&R get to you (best case scenario 3 hrs). There is also a lot of stuff you can do in terms of self rescue which can prevent you even needing to call S&R. Statistics show that climbers are more likely to self rescue than hikers and that random tourists are the most helpless. Don't be helpless - do a wilderness first responder course and learn how to do stuff rather than sitting around waiting for someone else to help you. PLEASE NOTE that if there is a chance of a spinal injury then getting the person to a safe place and keeping them still is the best option. Pretty much everything else relies on your training and knowledge and circumstances (now I am advocating using your intellect and experience in that case). A cellphone will not help at the bottom of a kloof so one needs more than just that but it is the core of a good rescue when things go wrong in this day and age.

2. Sling cut to length is relatively cheap and still rated. If you join it with a tape knot you will lose a lot of strength (about 30%) but it will still be very strong - more than enough for an abseil. Similarly with cord, be it 7mm or 8mm but again the defining factor will be the knot you use. You should use a "leaver biner" or maillon on this that the rope runs through. Don't win a Darwin award like so many Americans that have abseiled with their rope through a sling etc. - it may move which will then cut through the sling.
http://www.rockandice.com/climbing-acci ... -to-ground


3.Joining the ropes one normally uses an EDK (European Death Knot) or even 2. That is dealt with extensively on Nic's link.
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justin
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Re: Emergency kit - what do you carry? What for trad abseils?

Post by justin »

Gobsmacked wrote:Don't win a Darwin award like so many...
... and don't be cheap, if you need to leave your new shiny Camalot behind, or even two pieces of gear - then do so. I know it's heart breaking and expensive, but no one likes attending early funerals.
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Ghaznavid
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Re: Emergency kit - what do you carry? What for trad abseils?

Post by Ghaznavid »

Justin wrote:... and don't be cheap, if you need to leave your new shiny Camalot behind, or even two pieces of gear - then do so. I know it's heart breaking and expensive, but no one likes attending early funerals.
One of my nuts is sitting wedged in nicely on Sentinel Standard Route, along with some tat and a sling. There was lots of snow and ice on the route, so we roped the C pitch (which has a 300+m fall if you slip badly to the north). We abseiled down in thick mist and falling snow, and the tat was behaving oddly, so I added a sling around the same rock to be safe (a 120cm, which was only just big enough). The first 3 down were belayed as a backup in case the anchor failed. Our belayer was attached via 3 pieces equalised. When he came down, he had to remove his gear, and could only get 2 pieces out.

The R300 to replace gear left behind is favourable to the horror story of that time you got caught in the Drakensberg on a rock climbing peak in a blizzard because you tried to rescue a nut, or someone falling to their death slipping on ice on an easy pitch that could have been ab'ed.

Mountain related sports can be unsafe from time to time, and replacing gear is cheaper than medical bills or a funeral.
"There is something fundamentally wrong in treating the Earth as if it were a business in liquidation." Herman E Daly
ant
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Re: Emergency kit - what do you carry? What for trad abseils?

Post by ant »

Prusiks are good as leaver-gear.
If you're expecting to improvise then yes a lot of people carry a light cordalet and sacrifice this. And you can use it in other climbing applications. As per Snort, carry stuff you can use universally.

The issue with crane/truck gear isn't the expected strength, but the rated consistency in manufacture, and knowing that its been reserved for use for climbing (even if its new!) You don't want to use something that 'might' have been used to tow a truck (exerted past it's 'yield curve')

For first-aid: This remains personal choice, but a CPR mouthpiece and bandaging to stop severe bleeding is the simple stuff that non-medics like us really need in the first hour before help arrives.

See Nic's pics of the 'Euro Double Death Knot' in the link.
In which case you shouldn't have to tie stoppers in the tails - this just creates more knots that can jam when retrieving the ropes.

Ant
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Nic Le Maitre
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Re: Emergency kit - what do you carry? What for trad abseils?

Post by Nic Le Maitre »

Gobsmacked wrote:There are several questions posed in this discussion;

1.Carry a small first aid kit - someone could die by the time S&R get to you (best case scenario 3 hrs). There is also a lot of stuff you can do in terms of self rescue which can prevent you even needing to call S&R. Statistics show that climbers are more likely to self rescue than hikers and that random tourists are the most helpless. Don't be helpless - do a wilderness first responder course and learn how to do stuff rather than sitting around waiting for someone else to help you. PLEASE NOTE that if there is a chance of a spinal injury then getting the person to a safe place and keeping them still is the best option. Pretty much everything else relies on your training and knowledge and circumstances (now I am advocating using your intellect and experience in that case). A cellphone will not help at the bottom of a kloof so one needs more than just that but it is the core of a good rescue when things go wrong in this day and age.
In the Western Cape you can expect a response far sooner than that. With the AMS helicopter we've been on scene with the patient in under 30 minutes from the accident. We try very, very hard to get patients to the hospital within the "golden hour". Beyond stopping large scale blood loss (pressure bandages and focused pressure on specific points - put a hard object over the blood vessel and bandage it tight), splinting broken limbs and treating for shock (keep them warm and ensure that enough blood gets to the brain) there is nothing even high trained professionals can do for a patient on a mountain. Their best hope lies in getting to hospital ASAP. Carry stuff to do that in your kit and any personal allergy medication that you need.

Incidentally, we don't respond sirens blaring to every call, most often we will attempt to get you to rescue yourself if you are uninjured and able to. You'll end up on a conference call with a medic and someone who knows the area and/or situation, they'll try and talk you down. If we can avoid responding, we do, but our response time is greatly decreased (i.e. we get to you in daylight) if we know that we might be needed to assist you. A preemptive phone call with: "This is the situation, we are fine now but might need you later, will check in regularly" is greatly appreciated.

Sorry for the side track!
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Old Smelly
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Re: Emergency kit - what do you carry? What for trad abseils?

Post by Old Smelly »

As always (I suppose) I must object...

1. I am very tired of being told in normal first aid courses to sit around and wait for help. At least in Wilderness First Responder they go beyond this. Often there is more that you can and should do.

2. Many of the injuries that one encounters in the outdoors (rope burns, fire burns, dislocated joints, bad cuts, heat exhaustion, dehydration, concussion etc.) can be treated by people who are trained and have the right equipment. Yes S&R also play a role BUT my original point still stands - most of these more NORMAL types of injuries in the outdoors can be dealt with by trained climbers without having to wait the 3/4 hours it generally takes for S&R to get to you (yes maybe in Nic's microcosm that is not the case but in the WHOLE COUNTRY this is more of the norm) and you would most likely be out of cellphone reach in many of these instances. SO if you don't want to sit around doing nothing while someone's condition deteriorates then learn to do as much as you can while you wait for S&R.

3. If things go wrong it is often then that multiple decisions need to be made. In these cases the wrong ones can make things go from bad to worse. This applies to medical stuff and to ropework. So once again, learn and practice as much as you can about getting off climbs in difficult situations. It does not take much for things to go wrong and THEN - if you are too stingy to build a proper abseil point or do not know how to rig a pulley system then things can go very badly for you. So my proposal is learn as much as you can and practice as much as you can instead of assuming someone else is going to come haul your proverbials out the fire!

S&R are wonderful and they have a role to play. You too can do your bit by knowing how to get off climbs safely, how to retreat safely and what to do in emergencies. That way everyone is better off when things go wrong in the mountains.
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Nic Le Maitre
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Re: Emergency kit - what do you carry? What for trad abseils?

Post by Nic Le Maitre »

Dude, you're not being contrary, you're agreeing with me...

I'm not advocating doing nothing, quite the opposite. Know how to deal with life threatening injuries. Minor injuries will take care of themselves mostly or can be treated with the same tools you would use to treat a life threatening injury. What I'm saying is manage your time to the benefit of the injured person. Since there is very little you can do to treat people on a mountain, especially as a lay person, do what you can to stop them dying immediately and then go for help. If they are not going to die then and there, you have time to consider your options.
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Gobsmacked
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Re: Emergency kit - what do you carry? What for trad abseils?

Post by Gobsmacked »

Happy to agree :thumleft:
Hector
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Re: Emergency kit - what do you carry? What for trad abseils?

Post by Hector »

I agree about contacting S&R ASAP. A mate and I rapped off a route in the kloofs awhile ago to help someone who had broken their back. We were at the top of the climb when we saw the commotion (which seemed serious) and headed down immediately. What we should have done is taken the extra ten minutes to scramble out and phone S&R, even if just to say "not sure what's happening but just be ready". By the time we'd sussed the situation, stabilised the patient and hiked out to get signal S&R had lost two hours. The whole thing ended ok (and only just in daylight) but with other injuries those two hours could have been the difference.
DeanVDM
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Re: Emergency kit - what do you carry? What for trad abseils?

Post by DeanVDM »

I agree with much of what has been said.

The short version: as mountaineer you need to be prepared to help yourself but we also help each other so when the time comes don't hesitate to get help if your are in over your head.

More than 2c: When you need outside help call early but then realise that it might take hours and sometimes even longer to get help (see recent SAR in the US where the person waited three days). Until this promise of outside help arrives you will have to deal with whatever challenge you are presented with whether it be a self-rescue, some first aid in a desperate situation to buy time, getting yourself to a place to call for help. And you might have some difficult choices to make which will determine how good or bad your day is going to be eg.: staying together, staying put, splitting up, dodgy DIY, take calculated risks etc. I'm not wishing it on anyone but think about the big mountaineering survival stories and how much was self rescue vs help from outside and then decide whether you are up for it (Hecor’s example is another case in point). There are no easy answers but in the end you as a mountaineer need to be able and be equipped to deal with whatever its going to take to resolve. One time it might be just make a call and all goes well without the situation getting further out of hand but the next time it might be a real epic.

But is exactly why I like mountaineering - there is big aspect of adventure and being self-sufficient and in control of your own 'fun' but also in testing your skills against the unknown challenges that you might meet. Mountaineering is to me about exploring unknown places using my skills.

I will add that it is only a fool that just jumps in on the deep side without arming himself with a good measure of experience and skill to be up to the challenge of things going wrong. Before committing make sure you are willing and able to not only be up to the grade but also have enough on your side to deal with something going wrong. If not think carefully: go with people that can or choose a less challenging objective with the view of using this as a stepping stone to one day taking on the bigger challenge.
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Re: Emergency kit - what do you carry? What for trad abseils?

Post by Chalk »

There is unfortunately no magic emergency kit that solves all the problems (or provides us with a 100% indemnity again stupid), the same emergency kit you have in your climbing pack may or may not be applicable on a motorbike, ice climb, car or scuba dive and a first aid kit is only as useful as its user. I remember a skipper on a dive boat who had a "last rights kit", bible and cross, and apparently no one ever got injured on his boat! The best solution is usually "stop, think" and that applies to the person causing the emergency as well as the person responding to it.

1 - Assess the situation
2 - get help
3 - assess the environment
4 - assess the injured
5- know your limit

The impulse is strong to get to the injured person and help but more often puts you in danger, endangers the patient and sets off a second rescue situation all of its own.
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