Mountain Journeys

Advanced Climbing Techniques: Self Rescue – Practice, it’s important


Rope all ready to go on an assisted hoist set up. This is where the climber and belayer work together to help the climber overcome any difficulties

Advanced Climbing Techniques

By far, this last few months have been the toughest of our lives, and many I'm sure can relate to that. With the first flowers of spring now showing themselves, new hope is created and we look to the future with positivity. For us, it has been a quiet few months and this is the case across the outdoor activity sector. We are well aware that skill fade is real, the old adage 'use it or lose it' comes to mind.

Keen to keep hold and improve our hard won skills as climbing instructors, we have been making sure to spend as much time as possible in mountainous terrain of all varieties. That's all the fun stuff, having big days in the hills, going climbing or scrambling, exploring. Something that may seem more mundane are the self-rescue skills we as climbers should all be aware of and have at least a tricks at our fingertips. As instructors we need more than just a few basics in this toolbox and rest assured we take these skills very seriously.

Over recent days we have been busy working through a huge amount of rescue scenarios so that we do in fact keep these important skills sharp.

Stuck abseiler? No problem, deploy 2 prussic loops onto the weighted rope and go up or down to the person to assist.

Climber nearing the belay stance but struggling with a tricky move? An assisted hoist is rapid to set up and very effective.

Second has forgotten to remove a runner and has now climbed beyond it? No worries, just lock off the belay device and get an Italian hitch belay set up instead, using rope from the anchor end and lower a loop to the climber getting them to clip this into their harness. Lower them to the runner with the Italian hitch giving top rope level safety. Once the runner is removed all can revery back to regular belaying, or stick with the Italian if preferred, they work just as well.

So much more that can happen of course and many more skills to look at. The important thing to remember when working through any of this is to consider what result each step will bring. Is it safe and does it bring you closer to a good outcome. If so, keep going. If unsure, stop. When practicing, we recommend using a back up safety rope, just in case!

There are many manuals that cover self rescue for climbers. We own many of them. By far the very best manual is a relatively recent publication by Andy Kirkpatrick simply titled 'Down'. It's all about how to get yourself and partner out of trouble in a climbing situation. Andy has learnt these skills the hard way, so we don't have to.

We are so looking forward to welcoming you back to the Lake District and can't wait to see the towns, villages, and mountains filled with visitors.

Please do get in touch if thinking of visiting the Lakes, we'd be delighted to arrange some fun outdoor adventures. Gorge scrambling, canyoning, rock climbing, abseiling, guided walking, scrambling, and adventure days. Check out our activity page here

All the best



Preparing an unassisted hoist. This is where the belayer does all the work.


Another unassisted hoist being set up. This time the belayer has freed themselves (escaped) from the belay system.


Sometimes it's necessary to ascend a rope, this is one way of doing so and uses minimal equipment.



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