On steep terrain that demands technical climbing, even a minor illness or injury can make a person unable to travel without help. A large, well-equipped rescue party has a lot of options for safe and efficient evacuation of the victim. A small climbing party, however, will find it difficult to take any route that involves much raising or traversing. The small party usually will take an evacuation route straight down the fall line, which uses the least energy and equipment. Rescue on class 4 and 5 terrain usually requires more equipment than on the easier class 2 or 3 ground, where people rather than gear can provide most of the help.
Raising or lowering an injured person on technical terrain is a serious undertaking, with any number of things that can go wrong. A small climbing party should be prepared with prior training in rescue techniques and their complications, in order to avoid errors that make matters worse. A rescue is inherently more dangerous than a normal climb over the same ground because attention is focused on the victim instead of on the climbing. Often, the climbers must descend by a route unknown to them.
The prime object—moving the victim without further injury—is naturally uppermost in everyone's mind, yet the safety of each individual must never be forgotten. Solidly anchored belays may be required both for the victim and for the rescuers, even if they wouldn't be set up under ordinary climbing conditions. If ropes are in short supply, rescuers can be safeguarded by a fixed line to which they attach themselves with prusik slings.
A small party uses its available climbing hardware for rescue work and must think through the limitations of this equipment. Be sure the equipment can safely do what you plan to ask of it. The party's standard 11-millimeter climbing rope is usually adequate for rescue raising and lowering of single-person loads, although keep in mind that it will stretch. If the rope was involved in the accident, check it carefully for damage before using it in the rescue. Climbers in small parties often carry emergency items to help in a rescue. Depending on the climb, such items might include extra slings and carabiners, a pulley, folding saw, snow shovel, whistle, plastic tarp, and emergency smoke.
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