Improvised Self rescue techniques - food for thought

Now I don’t want to go around scaring people but what would you do if:-

A. Your partner had run out of puff on the sixth and last pitch of Troutdale Pinnacle.

B. You are taking a friend out for the first time, they have climbed past a piece of gear, they can’t downclimb and are getting a little bit agitated about the whole situation.

C. Your leading partner fell off the traverse of Dream of White Horses, they haven’t got their prussiks, you can’t get reception on your mobile and it’s getting dark (and in about an hour they need that all important insulin injection). Hmm.

There is no set procedure to learn for each scenario – I use a series of building blocks that you can then put together in different orders to deal with the different situations and, whilst I try to run modular courses, it isn’t essential for you to progress through the various stages (but it does help).


I don’t do taster sessions for improvised techniques!! We just get straight in there.

Firstly I go back to the basics of setting up belays and look at the pros and cons of various systems and how to avoid problems in the first place.

Next we look at dealing with simple problems that may arise, how to tie off the belay plate and what we can do to offer assistance to the second.

Main Course

Next we can progress on to some slightly more taxing problems and look at escaping the system, how to safely get a second off a multi-pitch crag when you’re 250 foot up, how to protect yourself when abseiling and other more complex situations that may arise.


Now we cover what to do when your partner falls off a traverse and they are unable to offer any assistance, how to use hauling systems to get your second to the top of the crag, how to set up counter balance abseils etc etc.

Basically it’s a chance to cover techniques that will get you out of any pickle that you can ever imagine. You’ll also get to realise just how safe climbing can be and it will probably make you a more confident leader