Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Small Party Cave Rescue Class

 I like caves. I like ropes. And over the years, I've been fortunate to go to some really cool places that involve ropes and the underground. I've also come to understand how if something goes wrong, you need some really specialized training to get you back to the highway. So I've taken National Cave Rescue Commission training and enjoyed that so much I eventually became an instructor. I've been an instructor for a number of years now, and when a fellow instructor asked if I'd be willing to help out with a Small Party Cave Rescue Class, I said sure. This is a newer class that's offered and the first time for all three of the main instructors to try out this new curriculum.

We held the class in Logan, Utah, at the Cache County Search and Rescue building. It's a great facility, with a climbing wall corner and nice anchors.

There's even a door in the classroom that opens to the bay below, which makes for a difficult edge problem.

 But the best place to learn skills is where you have some real rock, so we went out to nearby cliffs the first afternoon and reviewed and learned some basic hauling and lowering techniques using minimal gear. I like using minimal gear, as that means my pack is lighter. The key is knowing your gear forwards and backwards so that you can use it in several different ways.

 We rotated students through stations, and I became the patient for a group. Above was my view as they pulled me up the cliff.

 Ah, such friendly rescuers!

Well, since this was a cave class, we spent the next couple of days going to a cave.
 Before we went in we had a great demonstration about placing anchors.

 Then we split into groups and practiced a variety of counterbalances, one of my favorite techniques for small parties. (If you want to learn more, sign up for some NCRC training--there's a national event coming up in July!)

 This cave had a pit entrance that was large enough for us to have several groups working at the same time.

 Down at the bottom we found plenty of snow and ice, which we discussed in length. Hypothermia is always something of concern in cave rescue, but in these caves, it's critical to get your patient warmed.

We did some mock rescues, and I had the fun of being pulled out of a pit a couple of times.
 The terrain we were in was absolutely stunning, and I can't wait to go back.

As I said at the beginning, I love caves and I love working on rope. But the thing that makes me willing to volunteer my time to do cave rescue instruction is the people. We have a great cadre of instructors and staff, and meeting students and seeing them progress is really rewarding.

So if you read this blog and you like to cave, get some cave rescue training. It not only helps you help other people, it also makes you a better caver. Contact me if you need more info.

1 comment:

J Israel said...

Thanks so much for all the great info!!! Just did trip across the States with group of Chinese elementary kids and one of the places was Angel Lake in Nevada. I also took the same group caving and teaching them srt and other rope skills so love all the great pictures with kids! So much information for the kids to learn from your blog!!

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