Rock Climber Self-Rescue Skills Journal Articles uri icon

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  • INTRODUCTION: Rock climbing involves some inherent danger, and rock climbers should be able to carry out basic rescue techniques for their own safety. This study seeks to assess such abilities by examining self-rescue skills in a cohort of rock climbers. METHODS: Climbers who participate in multipitch sport or traditional climbing styles were recruited via posters at a local climbing gym and on social media. Participants completed a survey assessing climbing history and confidence in their rescue skills and then were evaluated on 3 rescue scenarios in an indoor, standardized setting. Scenario pass rates were calculated and compared with rescue skill confidence on the survey. RESULTS: Twenty-five climbers participated in the study. Mean confidence in rescue skills varied from 4 to 4.5 (on a 7-point scale). The pass rates for the 3 scenarios were 28%, 68%, and 52%. Only 24% of climbers passed all 3 scenarios. Surveyed confidence in rescue skills and pass rate statistically correlated in only 1 scenario. CONCLUSIONS: Self-rescue skills were generally lacking in our study population. Climber confidence, experience, training, and climbing frequency did not appear to be associated with a higher level of rescue skills. Self-rescue skills should be emphasized in climbing instruction and courses to increase overall safety.


  • Hawley, Alana
  • O'Farrell, Andrew L
  • Mercuri, Mat
  • McIntosh, Scott

publication date

  • March 2019