Have you been eyeing up courses this summer? There are so many to chose from — from AMGA Single Pitch Instructor courses to Self Rescue from the Washington Alpine Club, REI and the Mountaineers. Some are women’s only with women instructors, some are mixed gender, some are taught by volunteers and some are taught by certified, tenured guides. There is no right course — it’s all about what’s right for you and what you’re looking for. REI recently held a Rescue Course and we had a few members attend.
The REI Rock climbing Rescues class was a perfect introduction to a few simple rescue techniques. I was already feeling overwhelmed by everything I didn't know. I knew I didn't really have the time (or brain) to commit to learning *everything*, but committing to learning *something* within 3 hours (and practicing my skills over the summer) seemed a lot more achievable.
The class description read, "You'll learn how to escape a belay setup, ascend to aid an injured climber and lower both climber and rescuer." It seemed simple enough: baby steps. I signed up.
Five minutes later, I'd convinced two of my rock climbing buddies to sign up as well.
Two short weeks later, we heroically fought traffic after work and arrived to REI ready to learn. Our class ended up a total of 7 women: 5 students and 2 instructors. True to its description, the class taught us several ways to transfer a belay, and how to ascend to a climber and lower down with the climber. It was surprisingly fun, even though there was a lot to take in. The main instructor was awesome and very open to questions. She was never far away, and gave a lot of great pointers as we struggled our way up the rope. We ended up discussing gear in general (specifically why we've seen a transition to wiregate vs solid gate carabiners, how to tell if equipment was "too" worn out, and when to use nylon vs. dyneema) and even learned a few new knots!
The best part of the class? How beginner-friendly it was. Both instructors did a really great job of speaking to all levels: addressing the more advanced crowd so that no one was bored, and answering the more beginner questions, so no one was left behind. It was a fantastic way to spend the evening and even though it was unplanned coincidence, I really liked being in a class full of lady climbers!
The only thing I would add is advice to bring more snacks. I'm ready for the next step: practice!
Thanks to She Rocks member Skye Hansen for her write up! Link to the class here. This is not sponsored by REI in any way.