Self Rescue Course – Info and Registration

While not required, it can be beneficial to take this course with a frequented climbing partner.


  • 3 days (Fri 6pm-10pm, Sat and Sun 8am-5pm)
  • Maximum # of participants: 6


  • Must have led a minimum of 5 pitches of traditional climbing 5.7 or above.
  • Must have led or seconded, a minimum of 3 multi-pitch climbs.
  • Participants should be comfortable with common techniques of single pitch climbing as well as building a traditional gear anchor, administering a top-belay, setting up a rappel, managing a belay station, and using a number of common climbing knots.

Course Description:

This course is designed to be an introduction to the world of Self Rescue, and to help participants answer that age old climbing question “What if?”  “What would I do if my partner was injured by rockfall?, What if we had to get down fast? What if my leader gets knocked unconscious?” These questions and many more lay just beneath the surface of most climbing expeditions and the potentials they imply can mean the difference between a tough day on the rock, or an all out epic.

Under experienced supervision, participants will work to develop the skills necessary to handle the many unexpected and complex scenarios that can arise in the dangerous world of rock climbing.  By learning fundamental techniques that are universal to most Self Rescue scenarios, students will not only be prepared for common risk potentials, but a variety of unexpected and unique situations.

Techniques will be isolated, demonstrated, and worked hands-on by participants, and then applied in a contextual high angle scenario to work through the reality of their applications.

Skills and techniques covered in this course will address these examples of potential scenarios:

You are alone belaying a new climber on a single pitch Top-Rope set-up. The new climber has climbed high up the route, onto a ledge, and has become frozen with fear. They refuse to move, even as bad weather begins to roll in.

You are about to start leading the 5th pitch of a climb when one member of your party of 3, is stung by a bee and starts to show signs of difficulty breathing.  After a quick search, your party realizes that the Epipen is in the pack at the base of the crag.

While bringing up your second on the strenuous 90’ long pitch #8, unexpected rock fall from above leaves them seriously injured and unconscious.

You are belaying a leader on the 5th pitch of a trad route.  As the leader nears the crux at the top of the slightly traversing 150’ pitch, a broken hold causes a wild upside down fall, leaving the leader dangling unconscious from the rope.

While climbing out the steep roof of pitch 4, your inexperienced second blows the move and is left dangling in space.

You’ve just completed another successful multi-pitch climb and are heading down for the day. While rappelling down the steep blank walls of pitch #7 you are finding it hard to find the next set of rap bolts.  As the knotted ends of your ropes begin to draw near, you realize, there are no bolts in sight. You’ve misjudged the descent route.

Course Skills:

Course information will include but is not limited to the following skills, as well as a look at the non-technical aspects of Self Rescue Preparedness.

  • Basic/Core Skills:
      • Escaping the belay (hands free)
      • Escaping the belay system
      • Ascending/Descending a Single or Double Rope
      • Backing up a rappel or lower.
      • Application/Use of Load Transferring Knots
        • Munter-Mule-Overhand
  • Mariner
    • Application/Use of Friction Hitches
      • Prusik
  • Klemheist
  • Autobloc
  • Bachman
    • Application/Use of basic haul/assist systems
      • 3:1 assist
      • 5:1 haul

Self Rescue Skills/Applications:

  • Passing a knot while lowering/rappelling
  • Rappelling with an injured climber
  • Lowering two climbers simultaneously (tandem)
  • Lowering from an auto blocking device
  • Transitioning from a weighted Top-Belay to a Counterbalance rappel
  • Transitioning from a lead belay to rope ascension


This course is intended to have one introductory night, indoors on Friday, then two days of hands-on exercises/demos at Sorrows End.  


June 22nd, 23rd, 24th

Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Click here to buy a ticket or click here to sign up for the wait list (for current and future openings)


The course content will be delivered in a combination format of discussions, demonstrations, and light scenarios with largely hands-on learning experiences and heavy instructor/student feedback.

Course Success/Completion:

The ultimate goal for this course is for students to possess the core skills and knowledge necessary to handle a variety of self rescue scenarios.

During or upon completion of the course, it is a goal to have all students demonstrate a competent understanding of the course material, to a point where the instructor feels they can properly apply these concepts on their own.

Students should be able to:

  • Replicate/recreate course concepts on their own to a level that is satisfactory to the instructor.
  • Demonstrate the ability to improvise the concepts/skills taught and be able to apply them in a variety of situations/environments
  • Demonstrate solid judgement of the pro’s/con’s of using various Self Rescue climbing practices, techniques, etc.
  • Be able to explain the use of various Self Rescue practices, climbing concepts, etc. in a manner which shows competency.
  • Under instructor supervision, participants should eventually be able to demonstrate the use of these fundamentals in a variety of scenarios.

Take-home Resources:

The course will include a list of suggested readings to further the students knowledge along with the possibility of some handouts, outlining a course overview and course concepts for at-home review.


Participants should have their own basic climbing equipment such as harness, shoes, belay device, and helmet.  As well as a standard rack of traditional protection, a cordelette, at least 6 locking carabiners, 2 x 6’ lengths of 7mm accessory cord (or 2 prusik loops), and any personal gear normally used for basic lead/multi-pitch climbing.

Additionally any weather/seasonal appropriate attire should be included.

Instructor Bio – Brendan Konowal

Brendan was first introduced to the sport of climbing at an early age, but his serious rock climbing experience began around 2000 with bouldering, top-roping, sport and trad climbing. Early on, Brendan quickly developed a love and appreciation for the many disciplines of rock climbing and found himself uniquely drawn to the intensity, beauty, and connection of higher multi-pitch summits.

While setting his sights on new climbing goals, he also set his sights on a career path that would allow him to share his passion with others.  It wasn’t long after pursuing studies in Outdoor Adventure/Education that the art of climbing instruction naturally followed suit. Brendan began to hone and focus his skills both as a climber and as a teacher, and soon found himself working in a professional setting high above the ground.  

Over the years he has taught in many climbing venues from indoor rock gyms, to multi-pitch summits.  His professional teaching/guiding experience is focused around top-rope, sport, and multi-pitch traditional climbing up to grade III-IV.

Brendan holds a B.S. degree in Resource Management, has held certifications from a variety of organizations including the AMGA, SOLO, and the American Red Cross, and he is no stranger to applying his training in a number of unfortunate climbing situations.

As an educator, Brendan brings with him a strong desire to connect his students with the deeper experiences that climbing can offer and hopes to create more well-rounded individuals in the process.  When he is not climbing, Brendan can usually be found with his other passion, practicing and honing the arts of traditional/survival living. Aside from climbing, Brendan has been a teacher/instructor of wilderness skills, survival education, and Kali/JKD martial arts for many years.  He is no stranger to working in the outdoor field, leading group trips and teaching in an outdoor setting.