Wednesday 1 February 2012

Keeping the team on a short rope

Coire and Lochain today
Derek in flow on "flow"
Going up
Getting steeper
Going down
We headed to Coire an Lochain today to look at short roping in winter with the MIC trainees. The Coire is quite boney looking (lots of rock showing through whilst at the same time the flat bits on the buttresses are covered in unconsolidated snow).
We began by getting them in the swing of things with a little one to one short roping on easy but quite firm slopes following on from a session I did at the Lodge last night. From here we added a second person to each team and looked at changing direction and moving up and down and all around in an appropriate fashion. Then with care we chose a section of slope with a safer runout and softer snow to 'test' our short roping to destruction.
Its a various serious undertaking to tie yourself to 2 other people on a steepish slope and deliberately slip to show them how difficult it can be to hold someone else. Even on quite moderate slopes with firm snow it was quite easy to send all of us into a slide (don't try this at home folks).
We looked at some quite specific use of snow anchors and then took the teams on a journey to apply all they had learnt both in ascent and descent.
Its worth pointing out that what you see here is short roping in a UK winter context. What we were looking at is different from the skills of moving together in an Alpine environment and, as the team discovered today, is a much misunderstood and judgement based activity.
Its not just about tying yourself to someone(s) else, either with or without coils in your hand, and romping up a snowy gully (and this approach has resulted in a number of serious accidents over recent years). It is about applying a wide range of tools appropriately to keep people safe and move them efficiently on the mountain. Our MIC Trainees have a great deal of experience of summer shortroping in the UK and climbing and mountaineering (some at very high grades) at home and abroad. They all finished the day with a strong grasp of how much they have to go out and learn. So I'd urge people to take care with trying to apply their understanding of these techniques without guidance and training from an appropriate person.
Sunshine and bitter cold all day today. Climbing tomorrow! :-)

No comments: