Training Snow Anchors, Raise and lower, Ice Axe and Crampons

February 6, 2016
Devil’s Slide Area

Written by Cameron Dickinson

Thanks to the more abundance of snow this winter season, the Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit has been able to get out and do more snow trainings this season than we have in the last several years due to the lack of snow from the drought conditions. This particular training brought us blue skies and warmer than usual temperatures.

RMRU members Setting Anchors

RMRU Setting up Snow Anchors
Photo by Wayne Smith.

During last month’s winter training, one of our focuses was on building different snow anchors, testing their strength, and discussing applications. This particular training, we will be incorporating snow anchors as part of our rigging system. This rigging system is a mechanical aid that will allow us to safely raise and lower our toboggan with training subject and medical personal in steeper terrain. The rigging system we’re using here (see images) is similar to what we use for our high angle technical rock rescues, but the primary difference is that we’re using multiple anchor points in snow instead of rock slab, trees, etc. In this instance we’re using a combination of vertical as well as horizontal pickets for our snow anchors.

RMRU Self Equalizing Anchor

RMRU Self Equalizing Anchor (SEA)
Photo by Wayne Smith.

In this day’s training, the objective was to refresh ourselves on our winter rigging system operations, general safety, medical personal training, use of ice axes (personal anchors, self-arrests) and proper use of crampons. Much of our team was handling the rigging set-up which will allow us to perform our raises or lowers, while our medical personal carefully loads the subject into the toboggan while proving necessary aid, and obtaining/relaying their vitals. In our training we’ll include different rescue scenarios to simulate real-world situations.


RMRU (SEA) done ready for use
Photo by Wayne Smith.

All in all, this was another great winter training. We were able to fine tuning our skills, with conditions & weather that couldn’t be better.

RMRU Raise

RMRU Doing a Raise
Photo by Eric Holden.

RMRU Members Involved: Lee Arnson, Cameron Dickinson, Gary Farris, Michael George, Eric Holden, Kevin Kearn, Rob May, Dana Potts, Wayne Smith, Frank Snider, Judy Spowart, and Ray Weden.