06 November 2022

Comfortable rescue training

The Cave Rescue team had been functioning at a little less than 100% power. The climbing club was not the only organisation struggling a bit! We had had trouble with IT, and a few trainings had fallen through. We had done nothing since the AGM. But our email addresses were functioning again, and we were having another training! And this time we would do hauling training in Cwmorthin.

I know it wouldn't be very physically strenuous. We would focus on the technicalities of a particular kind of haul! But it is Cwmorthin, and hauling requires a fair amount of kit, so at least we would have to drag all of that up the hill. And the weather forecast was bad.

When I got to the parking lot I saw a small number of cars. I got out of the car and then was immediately ambushed by people who were glad to see me, but so glad they forgot to turn down their head torches, so I could not immediately see who they were. But it was a couple who find time for us next to their tasks in Llanberis Mountain rescue. They are lovely! And that they were there also meant I was not going to be the only woman present that evening. I always appreciate that.

I also said hello to Gethin, our training officer. He was due a medal! But then I needed to go and change.

While I was doing that there was a little bit of commotion; another vehicle appeared, and it turned out that that was Miles. And everybody knows that he has both a Land Rover and a key to the gate. So that meant that he could at least ferry all our kit up the hill!

When I was done changing I found out he actually managed to fit the entire team (as far as it had shown up) and all the kit in his car. So we set off!

What we were going to practice was setting up a haul with everything in duplicate. In the olden days, we would have a hauling line and a safety line, but Mountain rescue had been doing some experiments finding out what happens if your hauling line somehow gives. And they found out that the safety line, which is not under tension, then has so much give in it it is totally dangerous. So we wanted two lines, both under tension. If one of them then gives, the consequences are a lot less severe.

We went to a very awkward pitch head (only strange giants with orang utan arms can reach the anchors) and started rigging. And then we hauled one of our members out of that pitch. It went okay!

Then we swapped places; everybody did something else on the second attempt. And we make sure we had a barrel boy. And the rig involved two releasable rebelays. And when we were ready to release them, we found out that Gethin had purposefully botched one of them. So we were actually practising with two lines, one of which was temporarily unusable! Very clever of him. And none of us had spotted it beforehand.

By that time, Miles had gone, as he couldn't stay the whole evening. He had shown up because he knew it would be appreciated if he would just give all of us a lift up the hill. But we derigged (which was even harder than the rigging, with these hard-to-reach anchors) and had the much more comfortable job of carrying everything down the hill again. And the weather wasn't anywhere near as bad as predicted!

It had been a very civilised evening. But I think we learned something! And we might be back in business. I expect our regular trainings to actually happen in the coming months… 

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