Let’s Build A Skate Block: Using The Tension Lines As The High Point In Confined Space Rescue

Written By: Lance Piatt

So here we’ve got a skate block. These are very effective in confined space rescues. This allows us to utilize two lines on a high point through a change of direction directly down into the space, in this case, using the tension lines as the high point, bringing the patient up, having the knot hit the change of direction pulley, and then utilizing a mechanical advantage system, a small “set of fours”, in order to move that patient and create a skate block.

You can do a traditional skate block or, like behind me, a tight line skate block which allows you to get a little bit further away from the structure. The rest of the rigging, the tension lines and the controlled descent side, is the same as your reeve system. On the controlled descent side, you’re just looking for a controlled descent device that will also belay a load. It should bi-directional, preferably whistle stop panic features, and they’ll simply be using a 3:1 mechanical advantage in that system to lower and raise that particular load.


Hey!  Also, some of you folks have a great “eye” for the technical stuff.  Yes… there is a single line running through the Rock Exotica Double Omni pulley.  We contacted Rock Exotica on this and as a paraphrased answered.  for the Rock Exotica Omni Blocks… this is fine.  The product has been designed and tested to do so.  Just use 11mm rope to remove the possible abrasion the rope may incur from the side plates with larger 12.5mm rope.  To our knowledge, only the Rock Exotica Omni Blocks allow this use and are in fact, fine with it.


We are aware of philosophical sides of this and appreciate the view point.  In the case, for whatever reason, we were limited in gear and the double Omni was what we had.  We thought about it, analyzed the options vs the design features and determined we were good to go.

Here a few of the products being using in this tutorial video.

  1. ISC Haulerbiner  is a mechanical advantage system, which has three pulley wheels incorporated into each Karabiner, creating a compact and lightweight 6:1 or 7:1 Mechanical Advantage system.
  2. Rock Exotica Omni Blocks are machined out of a solid block of aluminum for an impressive strength to weight ratio. The Omni-Blocks use high efficiency ball bearings and a patented design that gives your rigging system a one of a kind accessibility to a swing plate pulley and a swivel all in one. The swing plate has a push pin release button with a secondary safety catch to protect the user in case of an accidental release. This secondary catch requires a second push of the button, before the user can fully open and extend the side plate, to access the pulley.
  3. Petzl ASAP Lock is a self-trailing, mobile fall arrester that can be locked during ascent and work positioning, so as to avoid the device settling down the rope, or to have rope pulled through the device by strong winds.

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Peace on your days…



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