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Independent team of two

Risks and additional dangers associated with committing alpine climbing ascents in the format of an independent pair-two.

This topic is relevant for climbers, whose level of climbing sportsmanship has not yet grown to consistently confident self-climbing, but ambitions are already rushing ahead and calling to the most technically complicated and beautiful routes. Talking about the advantages and disadvantages of the tactics of climbing in the format of an independent pair-two regularly comes in relation to complex technical alpine routes, especially such famous climbing idols as Ushba, Dykh, Matterhorn, Shkhara, etc., on which this format of ascent is quite acceptable and effective. But there exist some nuances, about which I will say below in this article.

Mountaineering tactics

So, small independent team – only two climbers. The fastest, mobile, and successful tactic format for climbing technical alpine routes. The undoubted advantages of this format are the independence and mobility of the schedule - any difficulty associated with the weather, short-term malaise, an unforeseen difficulty on the route – can be solved promptly, without delays characteristic for the larger groups. A pair-two is the best solution for trained teammates who have sufficient climbing experience and who do not want to be dependent on the other people's problems, which is inevitable if the ascent is performed in a large group. It would seem – pair-two – is the perfect solution for the most climbing technical routes? Alas, in reality, it is not as obvious as it seems at the first glance. Climbing in a pair-two is associated with serious additional risks, which in no case should be underestimated, and it is often necessary to take the part in the climb with a group, despite the fact that it would be faster and more successful in a pair-two. What are the risks associated with climbing in pair-two, which, as a rule, remain outside the classical training mountaineering programs?

 Mountaineering tactics

The first and most important thing that should be understood with full responsibility is the extremely limited ability of the pair-two for self-rescue in the event of an accident. Having the skills of first aid and mutual help, possession of the technique of rappel with a injured partner or pulling the body from crevasse is all very good, but it’s not serious to expect that in the event of injury of one participant, the other will be able to do anything - this is a profound and dangerous error. Given the additional complicating factors - fatigue, difficult weather conditions, a stressful condition, you need to soberly understand that there will be no benefit from theoretical knowledge in the rescue assistance in the mountains. It does not mean that studying technical skills for working with equipment in various non-standard situations in the mountains makes no sense - no, of course there is considerable benefit in this and having a number of skills in reserve is useful and even necessary for any climber. However, you should not expect that the possession of these skills will be a universal remedy for trouble - it is self-deception. And priority should always be put on how to build a tactical plan of your mountain ascension to avoid these troubles, and in the event of an accident - not to stay without the possibility of receiving external assistance.

 Mountaineering tactics

In the most critical situations, the pair-two climbing team is unable to self-rescue - they can only rely on timely external rescue assistance, and build a tactical ascension plan based on this principle. Attempts of self-rescue in a pair-two very often lead to a critical loss of time, and as a result - to the aggravation of the situation as a whole, often with the most dismal consequences. Examples of such situations are numerous. Please note that the most common prerequisites for accidents in the mountains with a pair-two climbers, as a rule, are: the uneven distribution of the climbing experience between participants, the underestimation of the complexity of the climbing route as a whole, lack of coordination with local rescue services and (or) other groups located in the area of the ascent.

As a summary of this article, the advantages of climbing in format of an independent pair-two should be used very carefully, the decision should be based on your own and other people's experience, taking into account and carefully weighing all the pros and cons, because with the tactical advantages in this case are associated serious risks which in no way should be underestimated.

Text — Alexey Trubachev, founder of the MCS AlexClimb mountaineering and climbing school.

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AlexClimb Rule #1 - Safety First

From the very beginning of our activity, here nearly 16 years, the first Principle of work of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb is the Safety Priority. On the basis of this Principle all process of training is based, all programs and rounds are developed and carried out only within this main principle. We consider that at professional approach to development of programs, at personal discipline and correctly put motivation - occupations by mountaineering and rock-climbing are COMPLETELY safe. And from the return - all troubles and accidents in our sport come from nonprofessionalism, from ignorance or neglect by elementary standards of safety, from irrational motivation, from revaluation of own forces and opportunities. All these prerequisites we COMPLETELY EXCLUDE in our work - ours Rock-climbing, Ice climbing and Mountaineering are based on one Principle - the Safety Priority. In rock-climbing, mountaineering and ice climbing, the Priority of Safety of MCS AlexClimb-is your personal security and comfort irrespective of, than we are engaged - we train muscles and we work technology of the movement in the sports hall and on the rock climbing wall, we make the way through snowstorm to top or we relax on golden sand of the Caribbean beach after hot day of trainings on rocks. The Safety priority - the main credo of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb.

AlexClimb Rule #2 - Leave No Trace

Closely interacting with Nature, working with the active programs in mountains, woods, lakes and rivers, we perfectly understand the importance of carefull and respectfull bahavior towards the Nature, for its resources. From the very beginning of our outdoor-activity we adopted rules of  Leave No Trace technique - the standard of behavior of the person accepted in all the civilized world in relation to environment and especially - to the wild nature. After all on the relation of people to the nature near which they exist, itself can draw dalekoidushchy conclusions on the relation of these people to... Where and as we didn't travel - we don't reserve any garbage, we try to reduce whenever possible our influence on environment to a minimum. We clear earlier zagryazyonny tourist parking of the left garbage, we take out and we take out to utilization places that to us other people left there. We consider that only thus, at personal individual consciousness of each citizen, each tourist, climber or autotraveller, we will be able to keep the nature surrounding us in its state, natural, suitable for life, - in it pledge of the healthy future for ourselves and our children.

AlexClimb Rule #3 - Sober Concious

The position of AlexClimb Mountain and rockclimbing School regarding healthy lifestyle is quite clear - we consider that only sober consciousness is capable to fill sincere emotions,  to sympathize, to enjoy life in all its variety. Bright various enjoyable life is possible only on condition of keeping the absolute sobriety and purity of consciousness. Any way of obscuring our perception of reality is intended to do harm to our consciousness and bring harm to our physical health, to replace the true values by false ones, to destroy us physically - to turn us into flabby, weak, senseless, gray herd with empty hazy eyes. We don't force anybody to our point of view, everyone has a God's gift of making his own choice and to destroy himself if that is what he wants... But in AlexCilimb Mountain Climbing School we accept quite certain and very simple set of rules: neither alcohol, nor drugs.