The Bilgeri rescue

The Bilgeri (fig. 13-13) is a sort of "team self-rescue." It involves the rope-climbing techniques used in the stair-step prusik and the Texas prusik— except that the friction knots or ascenders are operated by a rescuer topside, not by the fallen climber.

Here's how to do it:

1. Secure the accident rope to an anchor with a friction knot or ascender—the standard procedure after any crevasse fall.

Friction Knot

2. Tie a foot loop in the end of a length of rope (either a spare rope or the loose end of the accident rope).

3. Lower this loop to the climber.

4. Attach the upper end of this rope to the anchor with a friction knot or ascender.

5. Tell the climber to put one foot in the foot loop you lowered and the other foot in a prusik sling attached to the accident rope. The climber should now be standing in two foot loops— each on a separate strand of rope that is secured topside by separate friction-knot slings clipped to the anchor.

(To complete the picture, the fallen climbcr should take all the precautions associated with self-rcscue: thread the foot loops through the seat harness and then down to the feet; run the ascent ropes through the chest carabiner to help maintain an upright position; clip a safety loop from the prusik sling to the seat harness.)

Everything is now ready for the ascent:

6. Shout "Right," and the climber lifts (un-weights) the right foot. You pull in 12 to 18 inches of slack through the friction knot anchoring that rope.

7. Next, shout "Left." The climbcr lifts (un-weights) the left foot while transferring all weight to the opposite rope. You pull in 12 to 18 inches of slack through the friction knot anchoring that rope.

8. Repeat the sequence until the climber is up and out.

This version of the Bilgeri is similar to the stairstep prusik. There's also a "Texas prusik" variation, useful for a person with an injured leg. The climber puts a boot into the foot loop that is lowered from above. The other foot is left free. To ascend, the climber alternates standing in the foot loop on one rope with sitting in the seat harness attached to the accident rope.

The Bilgeri can be a good idea if the fallen climber is in pretty good shape and can communicate readily with rescuers, but isn't particularly adept at working prusik slings. The Bilgeri rescue has an advantage over prusiking methods when the crevasse lip is reached. Because the knots are being handled up top, the fallen climber does not have to force prusik knots up a rope burrowed in the snow. If either of the Bilgeri ropes digs into the crevasse lip, you can free it from up top while the climber's weight is on the opposite line.

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