AMRC Training on the Shield 
Friday, September 5, 2014, 10:10 PM - Weekend Fun
Posted by Administrator
I wanted to create a fun and difficult training for the AMRC team, so I hatched a scenario involving the biggest cliff I could find: the Shield.

The Scenario: Two moderately experienced climbers (Justin and Jay) were planning on completing a 2-day ascent of Purple Haze. They had some difficulty finding and staying on the route, so the climbers could be located anywhere between Procrastination and Rainbow Dancer. On one of the last 3 pitches, Jay was belaying Justin up to their planned portaledge spot when his wig got caught in the grigri. While trying to free it, Justin continued seconding the route, but slack built. Justin yelled, "take!" but all this did was to startle a misplaced gray squirrel which jumped on Justin's face, causing him to fall 10 feet and injure his ankle. Jay managed (over the course of hours) to haul Justin and their gear up to the belay, set up the portaledge, and crack a couple beers in defeat. Admitting there was no way to finish the route without assistance, the two climbers eventually called their closest friend, Leeroy Jenkins, for swift, unsupported action. Unfortunately, Leeroy was in Canada at the time, jogging a traverse of the Vallée des Dix Pics, so by the time Leeroy could call his friends on AMRC, day was already breaking on the Shield...



Team Response We had excellent attendance. 26 people came out to the training, but it wasn't easy to execute. Due to Forest Service regulations, no more than 10 people can be gathered in the wilderness zone because this may hinder the wilderness experience of others. Therefore, we broke into 3 teams:

1. Recon Team. A hasty team (Cassy and Brad) which provided reconnaissance of the climbing party from below the Shield. They spotted the climbers from the La Luz parking lot and radio'ed the location of the subjects and other key pieces of information to the High Angle Team.

2. High Angle Team. The high angle rescue team made their way to the top of the Shield from the crest parking lot. Communication with the Recon Team helped indicate where to drop the first rescuers. Operations at the top with be run by our Rock Technician, Zak.

3. Low Angle Team. A small team was needed to get Justin up the rock steps of North Sandia Peak, so a few rescuers stayed back and set up a low angle raise for the injured patient.

Safety The training was in an extremely hazardous area and ultimately led to its cancellation. As the high angle team came off the top, loose scree was dropped off the edge - no real way to avoid this - so Justin and I traversed over to some trees to get out of the way. Unfortunately, despite my warnings on mountainproject, there were other climbers on the Shield due to the limited climbing season (mid-August to Feb when Peregrine Falcons aren't nesting). There was no way to run the training without triggering rockfall so the decision was made to cancel it.

My portion of the training: I went out to the Shield the night before with a crazy-heavy pack of ~75 lbs of gear. I rappelled into place, set an anchor, and built the portaledge. The evening was very calm and warm which was great because I needed a lot of time to configure the portaledge for the first time. I crawled into my sleeping bag, grazed up at the stars and 250ft of the top of the Shield, and passed out at about 10pm. At daybreak the following morning, I heard my fellow training partner, Justin, working with my rappel line from above. He came down, cooked up breakfast for me (Chai and beans&rice), and we started the process of packing up all the gear. Once the team arrived, found us, and figured out a plan of action, Hans came down to assess the injuries. At this point we got the information from the climbers below (who knew people on the team and called us) that the rockfall was continuing, so we had to cancel the training. We spent the next hours ascending back off the Shield and hauling the gear out. I struggled with my pack going up, had to switch to a 3:1 with grigri capture, and it took forever (more than an hour).

Overall disappointing we didn't get to do the training, but I learned a lot and no one was hurt. For those on Procrastination, we were right above them, so it's clear we couldn't do this training with people on the route.













Procrastination route and our rockfall path.
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