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Leading abseiler falls unconscious. What to do?
4:52:21 PM
New to the site.
My question is;
What would you do if you were rappelling off a route and your partner ("ahead/bellow)" falls unconscious? Autoblock assumed.
A. Build a raising system to pull them up?
B. Prussik down to them (then what?)
C. Lower them if possible (how?)
D. Any and All ideas welcome.



4:59:47 PM
Down is always going to be easier than up. [edit: unless this is rap access into a sea cliff or something, then I might haul, get help first, etc]

Not sure exactly how it'd work out, but I think my basic plan would be:

Prusik down to them (single s in prusik BTW)
Attach myself to their system, probably with a sling so I can end up below the patient
Get into a position where I can control the system.
Add my own backup
Remove their backup
5:06:04 PM
With their weight on the rope, you couldn't get your rappel device onto the rope, so I'm thinking you'd need to do something like the following:

1) Prusik down to the injured climber.
2) Attach yourself securely to their rappel 'biner.
3) Lower yourself a bit further to put your weight on their rappel device.
4) Remove your prusiks.
5) Use their autoblock to control the rappel for both of you.

You could also try to attach your own belay device below the injured climber, where the rope is slack, but that seems like a lot of extra fuss involved in then trying to attach them and shift their weight from their rappel device to yours. However you might need to do that if their injury was that they'd gotten their hair caught in their rappel device.

[Edit: Not only did Clarkie beat me to the punch, but apparently I don't even know how to correctly spell "prusik". I blame Austria]

Eduardo Slabofvic
5:59:16 PM
This is the time to employ the Yates hitch, then solo off.
6:48:42 PM
Good ideas.
Yates hitch? Wha?
Let's say there's no help nearby. You're bailing off a big face. Winter in the mountains. You're a long way from the bottom of a big hill.
'Prussik down, move one prussik, then the next bellow your partner. Sling from your harness to his/her belay device. Place your own autoblock. Remove your partners autoblock.'
Can you then control descent? Or is the device way to far above you?
If so, rappel to the ropes end. Build a new anchor. Then what?
Continue the same way?
8:17:41 PM
On 13/08/2014 JimmyJimJam wrote:
>Good ideas.
>Yates hitch? Wha?
>Let's say there's no help nearby. You're bailing off a big face. Winter
>in the mountains. You're a long way from the bottom of a big hill.
>'Prussik down, move one prussik, then the next bellow your partner. Sling
>from your harness to his/her belay device. Place your own autoblock. Remove
>your partners autoblock.'
>Can you then control descent? Or is the device way to far above you?
>If so, rappel to the ropes end. Build a new anchor. Then what?
>Continue the same way?
From the two real-life examples of this scenario among people that I've met, I am sorry to say that the answer is that most probably that you, or more correctly your partner, are rooted.
A major problem is that people in these situations don't usually just "fall unconscious". In fact they don't even have to be unconscious. They tend to occur in situations where the proverbial has hit the fan and there isn't the luxury of systematically working your way through a self-rescue scenario that you've practised on the crag.
If it's an alpine storm, you may well be able to get down to your partner but ice-caked ropes are going to severely limit what you can do. A solution which has resulted in both climbers surviving is to apply the belay-knife to the rope - but this is by no means reliable. You, as the cutter, greatly improve your chances of survival though you have lost your rope. Your erstwhile partner is unlikely to be so lucky.

post-edit : I have actually been in the situation of hanging unconscious from the end of the rope in an alpine gully. Mercifully I woke up and we barely got down before the gully was swept by a major rockfall. Had I remained unconscious for any length of time I would certainly have died. In that circumstance my partner would also have died if he'd persisted in trying to rescue me.
White Gold
8:19:20 PM
Prussik down.
Sling into their system or however you want to get past them.
Clip your belay device into slack rope below theirs and weight it. Backup with prussik
Untie (if you) can the partners auto block. They are now on fireman's belay as your weight is locking their device from below.
Lower yourself to the bottom.
Then lower them on fireman's belay.

8:38:15 PM
Cut & run

Duang Daunk
9:22:00 PM
Why does this thread remind me of the Never Ending Trip Report thread?

>D. Any and All ideas welcome.

Get the team manager to throw you a rope from the ventilation tunnel.
Clip it to your harness.
Swing dazedly in slo mo over the void with a blood trickle on forehead congealing in the spindrift.
Give the rope throwing manager a thousand yard stare.
Only then does the Yates Hitch come into play, otherwise, like big k says-
> you're rooted
9:41:46 PM
Since many commented above have incorrectly tied a prussik knot instead of a prusik knot, they are all probably dead as the prussik knot doesn't exist... ;-)

6:16:44 AM
You do like creating worst possible case scenarios don't you? Winter, Big Mountains, Big route, lead abseiler unconscious.

KL hit the nail on the head, that being the odds of both returning home alive aren't great considering whatever scenario has got you to that point. Though to make it worse you could have one unconscious member on a simul-rap I suppose...

With regards to getting down the rest of the route once at the victim; surely there was already a plan before you started rapping? Leave nuts and slings, ice threads, perhaps there are bolts or old pins. Unfortunately the kind of route you describe is probably going to have some kind of downclimbing, scrambling or hiking at some point, which will likely not be possible/practical with an unconcious person (and only one other to manage them through it).
8:30:29 AM
I assumed he meant winter in the BLUE mountains or some other local, far less lethal mountains?
In which case it's not only possible but judging by recent forum discussions likely...

Best solution - book yourself into a self-rescue course with someone like ASM
Don't get yourself into situations you can't jig a solution to. And always go with people who a) know more than you do or b) know that they don't and will call for help before trying to haul you up over ledges and around aretes.

A few yeas back a Newcastle Uni group were in Kanangra canyons, the above situation happened, the second followed. They died - those who didn't follow came out...

12:49:29 PM
It's probably time to call for help or activate the PLB that you thoughtfully keep in the bottom of your pack. If you have some medical training and can down-prusik confidently, go down, build an anchor to secure your partner, and administer some first aid. If you're not confident in your rescue skills, call for help from where you are; don't make the situation worse by injuring or killing yourself.
1:06:10 PM
Take the nitroglycerine out of your pack (you can tell it's explosive by the bright green colour). Expose it to sunlight, then hurl it downwards at just the right instant, so it ignites just as it hits the rock face below them. The resulting explosion will propel your partner upwards, whereby you can catch them on the way past.

Side benefit 1: the loud noise might wake him/her up.
Side benefit 2: loud explosions will attract the authorities and resultant rescue services.

1:06:42 PM
Can anyone with more medical knowledge comment on the potential damage caused by strains placed on the body of a climber in an unconscious position. We experimented with seeing how long one could hang in such a position during a TMC and it was extremely uncomfortable, most only lasted 10 or 20 seconds. This was to highlight how important it was to get to an unconscious climber and place them in a more upright position with a makeshift chest harness.

2:04:18 PM
On 13/08/2014 Dave_S wrote:
>1) Prusik down to the injured climber.

Through painful experience I know prusiking up a rope is a pain. I've never prusiked down a rope, when I try to visualise it I get the impression it would be harder?

2:09:12 PM
In some ways it's physically easier as you're going with gravity, getting the right amount of down each time can be tricky. Getting around edges with the rope loaded can be a problem too (eg. getting around a roof to which the rope is pinned).
2:45:02 PM
On 14/08/2014 Sabu wrote:
>Can anyone with more medical knowledge comment on the potential damage
>caused by strains placed on the body of a climber in an unconscious position.

Google 'harness hang syndrome'. It's scary. The Yates belay might be their best chance.

4:13:20 PM
Down prusiking can be pretty easy when done tree style -
essentially just sliding down with a bit of friction, feet crossed on rope might help
4:37:49 PM
Ok. Enough fun and games. Let's forget the whole winter foehn on the Eiger, partner's bleeding from the ears and you've dropped your gloves.
Let's just say your partner's halfway down the rap on a two pitch route. What would be the easiest, quickest, and safest method to get both you and your partner down?
After prusiking down, how would you?
1. Get past your partner? Particularly if they have extended their belay device with a sling. And for arguments sake we'll say it's overhanging.
2. Lower yourself and your partner? Clip into their belay, or, rap down and fireman, or...?
3. Having built a new anchor. Lower them onto the new anchor?
And 4. Continue safely to the ground?
I might add that I have done a course with ASM but we never covered this particular scenario. So I was curious to see how others would deal with it.
I might also add another question.
What if up was the only way? Say its a sea cliff or the cars at the top, and you were rapping down just to climb back up.
Can you haul without a rescue rope? My course covered mainly crevasse rescue in which case you'd be carrying coils.

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