Many of us spend a lot of time in the backcountry without thinking of self rescue. If something does go wrong it can go exponentially wrong and your partner’s life can end up resting square in your hands. If your partner gets hurt, you’re certainly going to ask yourself these 3 important questions below.
I asked these three questions to my ski partners today and below are their answers. There is some great insight into what rescue gear we should all be carrying when we venture into the backcountry.
Q1. What rescue gear do you have with you in the backcountry?
Q2. Can you self rescue an injured ski partner?
Q3. What gear do you wish you had in your pack that you don’t?
Q1 = “Lots of Gorilla tape, p-cord, voile straps, leatherman, headlamp, compass, thermal reflective bivy bag, extra clothing. Going through my head all the things in my pack, there are a lot of things that can be used in a rescue.”
Q2 = “As long as a rescue isn’t on real technical terrain and someone doesn’t have to spend the night, I think I can successfully rescue someone.”
Q3 = “It’d be nice to have a sleeping bad and pad and more ropes. If they weren’t so big, I’d like to carry more stuff like that.”
Q1 = “Emergency bivy, basic first aid kit, compass, headlamp, voile straps, leatherman.
Q2 = “No, that’s not the intention. The intention is to stabilize the patient and go get help to the patient as soon as possible.”
Q3 = “Heavy duty pain killers. Vicadin or morphine, just in case. Matches, lighter, firestarter. A repair kit to fix broken gear.”
Q1 = “Medical tape, gauze, basic painkillers, duct tape, matches, lighter, toilet paper/fire starter, gorilla tape, voile straps, leatherman, headlamp, extra clothes, emergency bivy sack, tarp with gussets and cord, knee wrap.”
Q2 = “Yeah, I think so. I think it would take a long time and I’d like to have more practice. That being said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound more of a cure. Minimizing risk in the backcountry is very key to me.”
Q3 = “Better gear repair kit. Spare headlamp batteries.
Q1 = “First aid kit, pain killers, bivy bag, swiss army knife, duct tape, compass.”
Q2 = “It depends on the injury. With a very heavy injury, I’m not sure if I could self rescue. With a broken leg or a similar injury, I’m pretty sure I could rescue an injured partner.”
Q3 = “Headlamp would be really helpful. Bailing wire to repair broken gear.”
Q1 = “First aid kit, bivy bag, an 8-meter 6-millimeter rope, headlamp, cell phone.”
Q2 = “Depends on what kind of injury my partner has and what kind of terrain we are involved in. If the terrain is simple enough, I think I could self rescue my partner. If he broke a leg, I think I could get him out.”
Q3 = “I feel pretty well equipped with the gear I have for the terrain we are skiing this winter.”
I myself don’t bring enough rescue gear into the backcountry when touring with friends. When guiding, I bring everything but the kitchen sink, when with friends, it’s a relief to throw out my huge first aid kit, my rescue gear, and my repair kit. Writing this article has made me realize that I need to revisit what I bring into the backcountry with friends. I certainly haven’t been bringing but will start brining my headlamp, a bivy sack, lighters, a tarp (for making a rescue sled), a working cell phone, a emergency beacon to contact rescuers, some 6 millimeter diameter rope.
Tonight, we went to a Mountain Rescue seminar given by Menno Boermans, a mountain rescue medical technician from Switzerland. He recommends for a mellow day backcountry ski trip to bring in your pack as rescue gear:
1. Plastic emergency blanket
3. Hand warmers
4. Bivy sack
5. Pocket mask (for CPR)
7. First aid kit (medical tape, ibprofen, gauze, latex gloves, steri strips, second skin, more)