The middle person
It's an awkward situation when the middle person on a three-person rope team falls in a crevasse, and there are no other teams around to help. The fallen climber is temporarily left hanging while the only two people who can help are separated by the crevasse, each in self-arrest.
To get out of this fix, the climbers start by deciding which side of the crevasse is the rescue side; that is, which side should the fallen climber come out on? Usually, one of the two rescuers in self-arrest is holding more weight than the other. The one holding the least weight usually has the best chancc to get up and establish an anchor while the rescuer on the other side stays in self-arrest to hold the fall.
With the anchor set up, the rescuer in self-arrest is ready to get free. This rescucr can ease back until the fallen climber's weight is on the anchor (keeping alert to the danger of also being pulled into the crevasse). Or this rescuer can try to set up a temporary anchor that will take the weight being held by the self-arrest.
Next step: the climber at the anchor tries to belay the climber on the wrong side over to the rescue side, if that person is needed to help in the operation. The loose end of the rope on the rescue side can be used for belaying, if it happens to be long enough. Or if they thought to bring along a lightweight 100-foot accessory line (a good precaution for a rope team traveling alone), this can provide the belay.
However, the climber on the wrong side could be stuck there if no belay or safe route is available. This climber should then set up an anchor and stay put.
On the rescue side, the ideal option now is for the fallen climber to ascend the rope on prusik slings. The rescuer can also use the Bilgeri technique, providing there's enough rope. If a hoist is necessary, the single rescuer can try a Z-pulley or a piggyback system. (For the friction brake at the anchor, be sure to use a Bachmann knot or an ascender, which require less tending than a prusik knot.)
In case one of the two middle members of a four-person rope team falls into a crevasse, conduct the rescue from the side that has two climbers topside.
Continue reading here: Twoperson rope team
Was this article helpful?