2013 BRS Wrapup: Another Successful Season! (and some close calls…)


by Rick Casey

With the beautiful Indian summer weather in the last week of October, the Boulder Group’s Basic Rock School came to a close. This fall there were 12 students who signed up, and 10 passed. Last spring, there were 31 students, of which 25 who successfully completed the course. Congratulations to the 2013 graduates, who are listed at the end of the article. All the best in your future climbing endeavors!

My Fall BRS group climbed Seal Rock on Sunday, October 27, which included Don Byington and Keir Hart (assistant instructors), and Ulla Westerman and Jonathan Dunder, students. We have lots of pictures!  You can view them here:  Don’s pictures   Rick’s pictures  Jonathan’s pictures

One interesting story that I would like to relate involved a rappeling situation that happened on our descent. This was similar to Eileen Monyak’s story in the September 2013 Compass about a rappel rescue she performed earlier that year in the same location.

In our story, Don Byington, an assistant instructor, was the first to rappel off the 150 foot Seal Rock rappel;  I was in communication with him via radio. Unbeknownst to Don (because it was not visible from the top), the gusty winds that had kicked up had carried one of the rope strands into a tree far off to the left, some 30 to 40 feet to the side, making it impossible to reach the ground. He was unable to free the rope by shaking it, and attempted to hand-over-hand in that direction, using his auto-block to rest, which proved exhausting. After communicating with me on top, we verified that (Thank God!) the knot that tied the two rappel ropes together was situated such that he could transfer to the single strand that was free, and complete the rappel on a single rope. This he accomplished by attaching himself to a temporary anchor with a cam in a crack while he re-rigged his rappel. The rest of the group waited anxiously on top during the slow minutes that passed until Don radioed back: he was on the ground, and had freed the other rope. Hooray!

This illustrated several key factors that all BRS instructors might want to keep in mind: always send an instructor down first on a big rappel, radios really help, and if it is windy, consider “saddle-bagging” the rope strands in butterfly coils on either hip using a sling, which pay out as you rappel down. There is a good description of how to do this in the 2012 Accidents in North American Mountaineering , or in this article on the American Alpine Institute blog.

Climb safe!
–Rick Casey, BRS Director

For 2013 Basic Rock School Instructors and Graduates, click below to read more!

Senior Instructors
Mike Ansett
Rick Casey
Kent Crites
Gretchen Gaugler
Eileen Monyok
Clare Reda
Jill Yarger

Assistant Instructors
Andy Cooke
Jen Ashley
Don Byington
Melissa Estep
Gretchen Gaugler
Ian Haygood
Roger Hedrick
James Hicks
Matt Holiday
Slava Lototskyy
Cary Reeves
Francesco Sangiorgi
Martina Sorek
Mark Thomas
Aaron Nichols
Don Byington
Kier Hart
Matt Holiday

Belay Tower & Knot Test Assistants
Richard Giuliani
Vita Holiday
Kira Koger
Angie Pagan
Rick Pratt

Congratulations to the 2013 Basic Rock School Graduates!
Jurak Ajdari
Zack Ballard
Joshua Bourquin
Erica Colegrove
Douglas DeVoto
Barbara Dix
Jonathan Dunder
Chelsea Duran
James Hewat
Vita Holiday
Matthew Holiday
Gary Johnston
Kira Koger
Lea Kottmeyer
Philip Michael
Colin Millar
Tevis Nichols
Angie Pagan
James Pancoast
Anne Park
Bethany Ramey
Kimberly Rogers
Nishant Shah
David Shaw
Vaune Shelbourn
Michael Smith
Nathan Smith
Lil Sonntag
Nicole Suazo
Wendy Swart
Makan Tabrizi
Linda Taipale
Curtis Taipale
Tayler Thomas
Robinson Wallace
Ulla Westermann
Jennifer Widmer


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