Technical Rescue


The mountains can be a rewarding place. Getting out in the fresh air and enjoying nature are a big part of life for many people. It serves as an escape from the hectic lives many of us endure throughout the year.

With the enjoying of the wilderness comes certain risks, and for those in need of rescue it sometimes requires a special skill set to access and deliver these people to safety. SARRT trains in advanced technical rescue situations to ensure that we are prepared when disaster strikes. Mistakes can be quite costly in the mountains, especially when rescuing those who are in the most unforgiving of terrain, such as rock and ice climbers. Regular practice and training help to ensure that our rescue unit remains safe so we don't put anyone else in danger in our rescue efforts.

In addition to the standard training for all of SARRT's Active Field Members the Technical Rescue Unit goes a step further to access terrain where others can not. This training is provided by SARRT team members. If you believe that you can be an asset to this part of SARRT, please reach out to jreyes@sarrt.org as we're always looking for new members for this unit. You don't have to come to us trained, but you do need a great attitude and a teamwork mentality. A team is only as good as its members.

Some of the additional training skills for the Technical Rescue Unit are:

  • Effective Technical Rescue Planning and Communication
  • Safety Factors and Forces
  • Equipment Use, Selection, and Maintenance
  • General Rigging Considerations
  • Knots
  • Belaying Techniques
  • Anchor Systems
  • Rappeling
  • Ascending
  • Rescue Lowering Systems
  • Edge Management
  • Mechanical Advantage
  • Knot Passing
  • Rescue Litters
  • Litter Lower and Raise Technique
  • Rescue Load Changeover Technique
  • Pike and Pivot Technique
  • Steep Angle Technique
  • Low Angle Litter Evacuation
  • Stranded Patient Pick-Off
  • Guiding Line Technique
  • Improvisation
  • Patient Packaging
  • Night Rescue Operations

Classes are offered for general rescue education but the majority of training for this unit is conducted through regularly rescue drills. The following classes are offered by SARRT to train prospective Technical Rescue Unit candidates:

SARRT Introduction to Technical Rescue

This module is the entry level class for SARRT's Technical Rescue Unit and is a classroom based class. We focus on introducing candidates to rescue concepts and pre-planning considerations. Part of pre-planning training will go into the organization of a technical rescue unit and how it fits in with SAR and law enforcement hierarchy during an active search. Though there are many technical safety rigging lessons throughout the progression of Technical Rescue Unit training, the main concepts of safety and risk management are emphasized here. Technical concepts of safety systems, fall factors, rescue terminology, physics, rope, hardware, equipment care/maintenance, and knots are explained to candidates with the intent that the candidates will practice tying knots in their free time before starting the second module of the course.

SARRT Winter Mountaineering

This module isn't solely for prospective Technical Rescue Unit candidates and all members who are or wish to become Active Field Members are encouraged to take it. It is an outdoor class and attendees are expected to dress appropriately for the weather conditions which can be harsh. Much of this class will focus on winter traction systems such as snowshoes, microspikes, and crampons. There will be a lot of practice traversing terrain with the use of crampons and an ice axe, as well as using an ice axe to self arrest in different fall scenarios.

SARRT Winter Mountaineering Advanced

This class is identical to the SARRT Winter Mountaineering class but is intended for Technical Rescue Unit candidates. In addition to the skills taught in the SARRT Mountaineering class it explores the use of numerous times of winter anchoring systems. Attendees will be taught to anchor using snow pickets, ice screws, axe anchor improvisation, as well as others.

SARRT Anchoring and Basic Ropework

This class will put to use concepts learned in the introductory class and candidates will have a chance to rappel, ascend a rope, and belay a climber. Attendees will be taught proper anchoring (non-destructive) in rock using cams and nuts, and by using objects such as trees. Building off our anchors attendees will also learn how to equalize these single anchors into a redundant and secure system. A lot of knot tying and use will help candidates become more confident in their newly taught skills and instruction will help them identify the proper situation for each knot.

SARRT Basic Rescue Techniques

This class is for candidates who are comfortable moving around in high angle terrain and have demonstrated a competent knowledge of personal safety in such situations. Multiple training sessions should take place after the Anchoring and Basic Ropework class before taking this class. Attendees will learn how to rig up mechanical advantage systems to lift loads heavier than they are physical capable of moving. Knot passing will be another core aspect of this class as well as tensioning and removing tension from the rope for such tasks. After completion of this class attendees will have the skills that with practice will make them comfortable rescuing simple stranded subjects from precarious terrain.

SARRT Working with Rescue Loads

This class will focus on the additional considerations that come with rescue situations that involve heavier loads. Many situations where a subject is incapacitated will involve rope loads in the vicinity of 200kg (440lbs) to account for the subject, rescuer, and rescue equipment such as a litter. Many of the fundamentals taught in the introductory class will be revisited to discuss the physics changes involved, and when to deploy higher load rated equipment such as MPDs and high-load carabiners. Packaging a subject in a litter for extraction will be practiced and multiple methods will be discussed. This class is likely to last more than one day. Following the completion of this course, the attendance of multiple trainings, and an evaluation by SARRT's Technical Training Officer, candidates will be considered for Active Field Membership on SARRT's Technical Rescue Unit.