I gained interest in rock climbing and mountaineering in the Marine Corps, starting with a very miserable trip to the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, CA. After my first deployment i was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to go to a well known school called Assault Climbers Course. This is a school that focuses on mountaineering, cliff assaults and urban rope work. Two more trips to MWTC and a short stent at HRST Master’s Course have broadened my scope with rope work and techniques that make moving across varying terrain easier.
Sterling Rope recently sent me a product of their’s called the PICO Rescue Kit. The PICO is a compact, all in one 4:1 mechanical advantage kit that is ready for use. It comes with 50 feet of a 6mm TRC cord with a sewn eye, 2 Pico double pulleys, 2 Osprey oval Screwlock carabiners, a 5mm prusik and a drawstring bag to keep it in. The kit can be used for hauling loads vertically, tensioning lines or any other application where a mechanical advantage can be used.
I tested out the PICO by setting up a one rope bridge and instead of building a mechanical advantage system out of prusiks and carabiners, instead I used the PICO. Once I had the tree wrap setup on the far side anchor and a swami wrap on the near, I began setting up the PICO. On the Swami wrap I attached the system with the locking carabiner and had already setup the prusik for use as an auto block to allow the tension to be held even when the line is let go. The same setup can be used to save your progress during a vertical haul so the load doesn’t fall back down if the line slips from your hands. I used a simple 6 finger prusik and it held the tension just fine.
The opposite end of the system was “carabinered” to the rope that is to be tensioned by a french prusik. Then the tensioning began. After a few smooth pulls on the line in a bit of a mule team setup by my son and myself, we got the line as tight as was necessary to move on with the bridge and take the system out of play.
The setup, use and repacking all came very easy and quick. I would definitely like to have this kit with me during a movement in a mountainous environment, but as with anything if you don’t practice setting up and using it, it won’t give you much of an advantage. If you build your proficiency with this kit it can greatly increase your system setup time. The best part of all is that it all pack up into a nice, small, light weight kit, to be stowed in your pack until needed again.
Author – Wes Nanny is a former United States Marine and is now pursuing a career in local law enforcement.