Rock Rescue Team

Early Rock Climbing
Hemp. As soon as hemp rope was developed, intrepid humans began going up onto stuff and down into stuff. A few faltered, failed, got stuck or too cold. And their buddies tried to rescue them. Nylon. Same deal...only now the equipment is nice and strong.

In the early years, roped climbing was the domain of people known as "mountain climbers." Several famous mountain climbing clubs were formed in the USA:
  • American Alpine Club in 1902
  • Rocky Mountain Climbing Club in 1896
  • The Appalachian Mountain Club in 1876
  • The Mountaineers (Seattle) in 1906
  • The Sierra Club in 1892, The Mazamas (Oregon) in 1894
Seems like everyone was a climber, but no. Only a few. And they rescued themselves because no one else could. Training was climbing and climbing was training. There are some amazing rescue stories from this era.

Rocking Climbing in America

Rock climbing was imported from Europe in the 1920s and 30s and spread across the USA. Rock climbers were a really odd bunch. When a mishap happened, they also rescued themselves because no one else could. Only now, the game was played vertically.

In 1937, nylon was patented (along with Dacron and Teflon, right there in my mom's chem lab at Berkeley. She said, "Hmmm, they should put that on frying pans."). So now we had good rope, steel carabiners and a variety of soft iron pitons from Europe. A few American climbers forged their own pitons from Model A Ford axles.

During WWII, the U.S. Army Mountain Troops developed a whole bunch of useful techniques, equipment, clothing and attitudes. These changes emerged in the 50s as the beginning of the Golden Era of Rock Climbing, which lasted well into the 1970s.

No longer eccentric, rock climbing has gained popularity ever since. Even you can do it. And now, "evolution" has brought climbing indoors, made it plastic and dusted it in chalk. But I digress.
Rock Rescuers
Rock rescue in the 1990s has fantastic, strong, chemically and metallurgically complex, constantly evolving equipment and lots of governing agencies and standards. It is billed as something anyone can do. Just strap on this harness and meet these minimum standards.

Minimum standards are just that. If that's all you want to become, please don't call yourself a rock rescuer. It takes much more than simplified and sanitized trainings twice a year.
Rock Rescuers in Training on Side of Rock
If you are going to become a Rock Rescuer, learn to climb up rocks too. Learn to lead climb. Learn how to rappel anywhere. Above all, learn how to anchor anything...anywhere. Explore the possibilities and the impossibilities. Learn it in any season, day or night. Eat, sleep and drink it.

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Let nature's peace flow into you..." - John Muir