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Demian Brecht 07-20-2017 10:15 PM

Harness-free scrambling protection
As I get into scrambling and alpine hiking more, one of the questions that I've thought of is: What happens if weather causes trickier sections to suddenly become hazardous? One may feel fine free soloing a section when dry, but maybe not so much if it's been raining or snowing over night. So, how best to protect oneself in such scenarios in both solo and partnered treks?

For ascents, I've watched a few videos on using harnessed climbing techniques, belaying with and without devices (Italian hitches), but that seems to be overly complex, especially given I'm more concerned about extra protection in bad weather more than tackling difficult pitches for fun.

For descents, I've mostly read about abseiling, which is definitely not what I'm looking for here.

I've read about "moving together" in a couple places (such as On the surface, it seems like it could be exactly what I'm looking for just for an extra bit of protection. Are there other similar techniques for this kind of thing? Assuming this isn't really something that can be taught in a climbing gym, are there places that offer instruction for this kind of thing that partners could take together, or would it perhaps be a part of a more generalized mountaineering course (I'm definitely not opposed to taking one of those either)?

prother 07-21-2017 01:19 PM

Canada West Mountaineering School.

Blue_bird 09-03-2017 04:56 PM

The short answer is no. Without the training to use ropes it's going to increase your risk not decrease. There is nothing more dangerous in scrambling than false confidence.

Any of the skills you mentioned using are rock climbing skills, and only after you've learned to use them in a climbing environment should they be used in the alpine. Rope work, belaying, placing gear, and making anchors all require skilled instruction, and a lot of practice to do safely at the crag, let alone in the alpine.

The "moving together" skill you mentioned is referred to as short roping, and is used to by expert climbers to assist more nervous climbers. In Canada this technique is so dangerous that it is not used by apprentice rock climbing guides (who are already expert climbers) until they start their apprentice alpine training. There are many small little details that go into this skill, like rapid terrain reading, communication skills, protection, micro terrain natural anchor selection, that the video doesn't show. So unless you're a very experienced alpine climber this is not a viable technique and mostly is just a good way to turn one casualty into two.

Your best bet would be learn to climb, then learn to trad climb then use these skills beyond. Most 6 day mountaineering courses, particularly those in the Rockies, offer crash courses in how to follow trad leads. But these are very introductory skills and will require a great deal of practice first in the valley.

The best way to stay safe if bad weather comes in is to be careful, do your planning and avoid it all together. If you find yourself stuck with wet rock, then staying put fo

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