Vertical Rope Skills Course


I’m putting together a group to “Check-off” their Vertical Rope Skills #1 for those interested in Mountaineering “the freedom of the hills.”  This ground level takeoff class goes over body dynamics, jams, edging, stemming, friction moves,  weight distribution, mantles, .and other important ascending and descending moves.  Here’s an important concept to remember:

“Maximum Efficiency and Simplicity, with a Minimum of Equipment and Effort; while allowing for a “Low Risk Exposure.”  Risk Exposure is the thing we stay conscious of.  It is the product of Risk Potential x Risk Factor.  It is a tangible number we can touch.   Rather than “yea, it’s safe.”  We combine Risk Potential (the possibility of the event occurring) x Risk Factor (How serious will if be if the event occurs?)  = Risk we are Exposed to or Risk Exposure.

Of course it is not perfectly “BLACK and WHITE” but it does make us stop and think.  For example;  Say you are almost to the summit of Mt. Everest, only 400 vertical feet to good, but your turn around time is 14:00 hours.  Do you push on and blitz to the summit and back?  Good question.  You are not even half way there.  People often forget “Going down is three time more difficult (on average) and accidents that occur on the was down are more often fatal.

Instead of a brain dead choice, you ask yourself  Whats the Risk Potential?  What the chance of getting there as quick as we think we can?  Whats the  chance of O2 problems, what’s the weather like, how will objective dangers fit in, other climbers, …  Now, you make an “Intuitive” call considering those things and more.  Possibility of these problems happening…?   It depends, but on the standard South Col route I would say the chances of something slowing you down.  Slip and a fall.   I would call it maybe 7 or may 8, out of 10.  When I feel like the number is one of two I use the upper one.  So 8 is our Risk Potential is high, “Something happening is a real possibility.”

Now, what’s the  Risk Factor?  How bad could or would it be if any of the things happen, individually or maybe several like a fall which break the O2 feed?  That sounds pretty serious…?  Well, it is your call.  This is a way I have develop to make me think, give me a tangible to work with, etc.    In this case, I might say the Risk Factor (how bad will it be if things do go wrong?  A fall and a break of the O2 gear?  Bad weather blowing in?   I would say maybe 7 out of 10  .  Maybe higher.  What kind, well, at the least, you have considered them.   Now it is time to consider the Risk Exposure  8 x 7 = 56 out of a hundred.  For me I have labeled 0 to 25 a low risk thing (I don’t use safe like this, because it makes us have bias’s towards safe, causing use to let our guard down. )  If we say “low risk” it intuitively feels like “Well, it is kind of safe, but I should be sort of aware.  Verses “safe” is black and white.  26 to 50 high risk (maybe be acceptable for skilled, and experienced climbers.  Beginners go back…  51 Extreme “Better think twice…”  Everest has a number of bodies still up there, including Mallory and Irvine… Probably the first to actually climb Everest.  Unfortunately, they never make the second half of the trip.  They eventually found their bodies…

I teach these skills, and it is better to take a class.  Reading is good, but having someone explain things is much better.  


Then we bring technical climbing equipment into the picture: climbing boots/shoes, our “second lease on life” our rope.  Of course we msoft

Introduction to Vertical Rope Skills Training

About bolts and safety