Patrick Gensel escaping my belay.
Back in October I took a four week self rescue seminar with Earth Treks Climbing Centers here in Maryland. Best decision ever. As a novice trad climber, I had always assumed that my leader would be awesome and I would be ok, no matter what happened. I would learn as I climbed and eventually become proficient and trustworthy myself. After taking this class I question the judgment of those leaders for ever allowing me to be their second. What were they thinking?? I knew NOTHING. Most of the course focused on rescuing a fallen leader. If my leader had fallen, I wouldn't have been able to do anything but stand there and yell, hoping someone smarter and more prepared than I would come along and rescue the both of us. I will never again underestimate the importance of being able to handle problems on lead as well as on second.
In the next few articles I will review what we covered, hopefully passing on some valuable tips and inspiring you to go take one of these classes on your own. No matter how good my article (or stolen pictures) are, they will never replace practicing with an instructor.
Ready? How to escape a belay...
OR How to leave an annoying child hanging safely so you can go get a snack.