You Will Never Look at Small Gear Small Team Rescue the Same Again

Written By: Lance Piatt

I am pretty excited about the future of our community.  Folks are talking more about what is important and designers, builders, techies, manufacturers, and instructors are all listening to each other… for the most part. 🙂

We are surrounded by amazing people. I have long desired to have a playground to build and adventure into things beyond the conventional. Not that conventional is bad, but it isn’t primed for growth and failure. Yes… failure!  I want to grow and expand horizons for not just myself, but for our community as a whole and failure is part of that. And really, it isn’t failure… it is really more about not accomplishing the task and understanding why and moving on. Failure is more about “not doing something” then it is about something not working.

As many of you know, we finally have a place to call home again… Rigging Lab Academy has it’s own rigging and film studio once again and we are stoked. A friend of ours suggested the name “Neverland”. Why? Neverland is a place where people either refuse to grow up or “always stay eternally young”. It is an imaginary island where mythical creatures and beings live. Does this weird? Well, to conventionalists (or the status quo)… it would, but to those who love to dream… it is a magical place.

Neverland actually doesn’t have borders. It expands and shrinks with the imagination of the “eternally young adventurer”. See, a map of the sojourner and imagineer doesn’t exist; it can’t because it only exists with the Imaginator… and that I hope is you!

For me, I get a place to expand and dream with whatever I want; and what I want (currently) is a place to share with you.  Honestly, there are easier places in business for me to make a living, make better money and well… not have to risk some much.  I chose to stay and risk even more than I ever have.  Why?… I believe that by partnering with our community, we can make huge changes in life, liberty and the pursuit of… happiness!  Yes… Happiness, because it allows for the expansion of things at a more rapid rate.

It is hard to be happy when life sucks.  I can’t do much about your choices, but I can determine mine and hopefully my decisions can make your decisions easier; Easier on your time commitments, stress levels, pocketbook, technical understanding and leadership opportunities, as well as being able to rig like a super-hero!

So this was a long introduction to something I was incredibly excited to experience.  See I have long felt (and still do) that many of our high angle rescue scenarios can be done with four people or less.  This includes running offsets.  This assumes that ALL rescue technicians are solid and up to speed on everything.  This also assumes a two tension rope system and (here is a huge jump)… everything is “single person load”.

Before you start yelling… I am referring to minimally 80% of your rescues never require an attendant (for anything).  Rigging for the probable and the probable is based on “the mental indexing” of the scenario. Think and rethink everything… before you rig for the event.  Again, I said “required”.

So with this, dream out your craziest small team rescue.  What gear would you need on your back?  Remember… 3 people are on foot and the rest are dragging way behind you and some of them are still in the car.  The call was a broken ankle and the person is unable to access, much less climb back up.  You’ve got trees behind you and enough gear to make this work.  Yep… you even have an SMC Vector.

So we have one patient and an AHD with a one person working load limit.  Some might say this won’t work and others say “watch me!” Now… you are carrying 11mm or even better yet, some amazing 9mm or 9.5mm aramid/dyneema rope and some smaller diameter cord (maybe the 5.9 Super Cord).  Carabiners… smaller Sm’D biners.  What about the rest?

I was fascinated by an article written by our friend Rich Delaney really shed some light on the topic of small gear and small team rescues and highlighted the Petzl Tibloc/RollClip combo.   So when it came time for Jason Ilowite to fly in and start filming a new course with us, I  was ready to give this a shot and the set up worked amazingly well.  (Note… prior to Jason arriving, I rigged a basic two rope offset with industrial high directionals and a 250 lb. load… by myself.  I ran the entire operation alone. Yes, it took me long time to make the rotation (climbing a flight of stairs 12 times on each side), but I did it.  My goal was to prove to myself… a heavier load could be run with 2 people on small gear using a two tension rope system and elevated high points.

I know that my working load limits were within the specs of the gear.  I also knew that if I had a struggle, I would simply add a change of direction at the progress capture (which ranged from CMC MPDs to Petzl I’ds to a pair of Petzl GriGris.  Remember!  I live in Neverland and whatever I want to do or try, I can.

I was a bit tired.  I got frustrated and numerous times I lost sight of the “patient” and once I second guessed myself.

So I achieved my goal!  So I know it can be done with 2 and 3 (if you needed and edge safety or… a medic on a separate line).  If all you have is 3 highly trained people and your other option is to wait!  Go!

A note of clarification… using the MPDs as the pulley, change of direction and progress capture, I was unable to run both of them on my own (obviously), however, I was able to accomplish the entire system evolution with Petzl I’ds… but an increase in mechanical advantage was needed (which was easily accomplished).  In the end, should someone come up with a CMC MPD type of product with the ease of use like a Petzl I’d… wow!!!  (Spoiler alert).

So over the next 2 days plus the 4 days of shooting, we used maybe 6-8 configurations of these gems.  Will they work for everything we do?  No!  But I am not after the holy grail. I am after the confirmation that said my goals and vision can be done.  My objects (steps) had to be re-aligned numerous times; Remember, I hadn’t done this before.  So when Jason arrived, we made some tweaks and much of what we found we filmed… AND you’ll get to see the results later when the project is released.

Anyway, I was excited to tell y’all about it and so there you have it!

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Peace on your days…



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