Félag Fjallaleiðsögumanna á Íslandi

Association of Icelandic Mountain Guides

Uppfærsla á sprungubjörgunarstaðli

Best Practice Crevasse Rescue

During an AIMG crevasse rescue exam one of the first and most critical steps has been to secure the fallen client from going further into a crevasse. This is best accomplished by using a progress capture pulley (i.e. micro traxion or similar) or a prusik minding pulley (PMP). However, in recent years it has become popular to use a slip hitch for this step, the main advantage being that it does not require any extra gear. The AIMG Technical Committee and instructor team has decided to end the use of the slip knot for the following reasons.
-it is a largely ineffective way of properly arresting a client if they are squeezed in a crevasse. Tying off a slip knot while holding the weight of the client on the rope is almost impossible to do without a great deal of strength.
– Unless great care is taken, the slip knot will come out when the guide is ascending back up the rope. The client will then no longer be secured and a critical point of the safety system has failed.
-On a third and less important note, the cost of the proper pulleys for this rescue have actually gone down. When the micro traxion was introduced it cost around 90 euros online, at the time of this post it costs around 50 euros. There are also less expensive alternatives such as PMPs, but progress capture pulleys have become an increasingly important part of a guide’s toolkit.
We realize this announcement comes in the middle of the spring instruction season and that students cannot change overnight. If students don’t have the right tools on the spring 2023 courses, we will continue to accept the slip hitch as an alternative on courses, but will remind students that this is going to change. Students on fall courses should expect to use the new standard. Please feel free to post any questions below.
IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE REGARDING PRUSICK MINDING PULLEYS: It’s very important that the diameter of your prusik and rope is suitable for the pulley you bring to the course. If your pulley is designed for 11mm diameter rescue ropes with 8mm prusicks it won’t work well with the skinnier 9mm ropes that are commonly carried by glacier guides. If you’re not sure what to buy feel free to contact the technical committee.