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Protection and rescue methods on firn and ice

Situations can often arise on high alpine tours that require a secure anchor point – for belaying, for protection, but in particular for carrying out crevasse rescues. However, building a solid anchor on such demanding terrain can present unique challenges. Not only because of the steepness, but also because the anchor’s holding strength depends upon the nature of the ground underfoot – and firn and ice are particularly difficult. So it is essential to assess the stability, choose the right type of anchor and be able to implement it correctly. In this LAB ICE chapter we will take a closer look at a wide range of techniques: T-slot anchor, sitting hip belay, ice screws and V-thread anchor.

In addition, we will look at the various techniques for crevasse rescue. If rope partners react quickly and competently, a crevasse fall should not present a major danger and a fall victim can quickly be rescued. At least the rope team leader should be familiar with self-rescue techniques, while other members should have knowledge of pulley and hauling techniques. In this chapter we provide information on the theoretical basics.