A Clean Getaway
By Andrew McLean
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Originally published in Skiing Magazine
As a rule of thumb, donít drop into something if you canít see the whole thing.  A 10í drop might prove impossible to climb back out of and lead to a 50í drop below that, leaving you stranded in between.  Better to spend the night hiking back out and staying warm than trapped in limbo on a cold ledge.

For a cheap insurance policy, carry a 100í length of 7mm accessory cord purchased from a climbing shop.  Cheap, compact and disposable if need be, this rope is good for over 1,000 lbs.  Doubled over, it will give you 50 feet of freedom, or 100í if tied off and left.  Coil it tightly and carry it in a small stuffsack to keep the pack tangles at bay.  When tying it to an anchor, a Bowline knot is the best.

Trees or big rocks are the best things to anchor the rope to.  Barring that, try burying items such as poles, tree branch, or a piece of clothing packed with snow.  In hard snow, dig a deep horseshoe shaped trench and carefully wrap the rope around it.  If you get desperate, try scavenging full-strength webbing off of your pack or boots to tie around anchors or to extend your reach. 

When itís time to rappel, wrap the rope around a body part a few times to create extra friction and always wear your gloves when lowering to prevent rope burns.  Avoid the temptation to throw your gear ahead of you Ė you never know when you might need a crucial item.

And of course, as always, donít panic!

Copyright - Andrew McLean Back to Writings Index