If you are interested in broken gear, and a series of differential equations that can explain the dynamic events that lead up to the breaking of the gear, then ITRS is for you. For three days in November each year, rope rescue practitioners from around the world converge in a conference room to present, argue, and discuss the finer points of rope rescue. While much of the audience is involved in wilderness rescue, representatives from many organizations and jurisdictions fill the room.
This year topics included a test of “V” thread vs. “A” thread ice anchors, the use of parallel paquettes in rescue systems, and fossil rescue. Each year I am amazed at the diversity of topics.
You may wonder where the Rope Rescue Oversight Committee comes up with many of the guidelines that are in place in the county. Some of the material that is presented at ITRS often finds its way into county practice, as the testing data is made available and results duplicated. The strength of this conference is the emphasis on testing. Without objective data, rescue techniques should not be adopted, and this conference provides a forum for the presentation and discussion of these results.
So, the next time that you hear that there is a change in how we do something, keep in mind that the change was not initiated on a whim. It probably started with a discussion that began at ITRS, followed by a few folks in subsequent years with some testing, and finally a discussion in the Rope Rescue Oversight Committee.
Rope rescue is a dynamic discipline. Each year, new equipment and better data allow us to enter the backcountry with lighter packs, and a better understanding of our craft. ITRS plays a key role in helping to maintainin San Bernardino County SAR’s rope rescue readiness.