Logo Jim Frankenfield
jim@mountain-guiding.com; 1-877-604-0166

Mountain Guiding; Mountain Safety
An Experienced Professional

Rope Bar

Instructional Programs: Self-Rescue


Offered on demand, inquire

Detailed Objectives: Part I, Part II, Part III

Course Background

This course focuses on technical ropework skills and techniques applicable to small party self-rescue scenarios, including high angle terrain as well as crevasse rescue . The skills covered are not dependent directly on the climbing medium and field sessions may be held on either glaciated terrain or on high angle rock.

The intent is to introduce participants to the general principles behind rescue systems as opposed to taking a "cookbook" or "memory" approach limited to specific systems. The standard "cookbook" approach may fall short in certain situations and may sometimes lead to a more complicated (and therefore error prone) approach than is needed. The "memorize this way" approach has also led to a few common myths which will be dispelled.

The skills covered are intermediate from a recreational point of view and the class will focus on that environment, not on organized or professional rescue situations.

As an intermediate course previous knowledge and background are assumed. It is possible to complete this class and get something out of it without prior training or experience but to use these skills you will need to be 100 percent comfortable with anchors in whatever medium you are climbing on, belaying, first aid, and other basic skills.

Skills Assumed

For the Part I and Part II class sessions no prior background is necessary.

For field sessions the following skills will be assumed - Belaying, Rappelling, and placement of at least simple (single point) anchors on either rock or snow/ice (depending on the fieldwork location).

A familiarity with C and Z pulley systems is not assumed but will be helpful.


Part I - Basic Skills: We will begin with a review of basic equipment and knots required for rigging basic rescue/hauling systems. Ascending a rope using prusiks will be covered. All students should end up with a pair of Texas prusiks which have been tested and adjusted to the best length. We will also transition from rappelling to ascending and ascending to rappelling while on the rope. Students who complete this with enough time left can construct and use Purcell prusiks for exposure to a different system. Escaping a belay may also be covered. (Students may wish to choose between working on escaping a belay or Purcell Prusiks depending on the type of climbing they do.) Time: 3-4 hours.

Part II - Mechanical Advantage Systems: These will be covered in theory and practice. The difference between simple, compound and complex arrangements will be covered. A quick way of "calculating" the advantage of a system (which can also be useful for troubleshooting) is covered. Progressions from one Mechanical Advantage to another will be practiced, and a few such progressions which are particularly practical in the field will emerge. These progressions have different starting points, and situations where one is preferable or necessary over another will be discussed. The goal is to be able to understand and identify options for the situation at hand. This may be taken with or without Part I. Time: 3-4 hours.

Field Session - In the field session the above skills will be put to use in a more realistic setting. Site and rescuer safety, the importance of leadership/organization issuesand a methodology will be an inherent part of the fieldwork. A few other "tricks" for handling problems may be covered, as well as construction of anchor systems using multiple anchors. While anchors will be constructed and used as required in the field session we will not take much time for instruction specifically on anchors. As an intermediate class it is assumed that participants have some knowledge of anchor basics. The field sessions require completion of Parts I and II or demonstration of the skills covered in them to the satisfaction of the instructor. Time: Full Day.

Part III - Advanced Skills - This is held in the field and covers additional knots (including load releasing hitches), passing knots through systems and assisted rappels. This requires a solid mastery of the skills presented in Parts I and II, completion of the field session for those parts is highly recommended.


This course is typically broken down into two evening or half-day sessions and a field session which is all day (and in some locations may involve hiking to the field location the afternoon prior and camping). Each of these sessions builds on the previous one. It is possible to take the evening sessions separately but both are prerequisites for the field day. The two evening sessions may combined as morning and afternoon sessions on the same day for convenience.

Variations, Customizations

This course can be offered in a form tailored to a groups interests and needs upon request. Contact me to discuss this.

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