American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Appendix to MRC Report

  • Notes
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1957

Appendix to MRC Report. A working relationship has been established between rescue personnel in the Pacific Northwest and rescue authorities in the Alps. The countries concerned formed an International Commission for Alpine Rescue, which is also known as IKAR. One of the many dividends which this cooperation will pay is in the purchase of specialized as well as standardized equipment directly from Munich and Innsbruck. Such an example is a sectionalized avalanche-probing pole. The Mountain Rescue Council of Seattle and the local Region of the National Ski Patrol System have ordered a number of these probing poles. They will be carried in the regular emergency equipment caches in this area, and individual probes may be sold to members at cost. Construction is of strong, lightweight steel, and the weight approximately ½ lb. There are two sizes: four 3-foot sections and four 2-foot sections. A handy cloth- and-leather carrying-case envelopes the knocked-down sections. The sections screw together and can be tightened with a key. The key is stitched in as an integral part of the carrying case and hence cannot be lost. This probing pole is a great improvement over previous types, which are either too heavy or too cumbersome, especially in the case of the one-piece poles which are difficult to transport over long distances and rugged terrain. The shorter models are ideal for ski-touring parties in case a hasty avalanche search is necessary.

Another exciting piece of specialized gear is the "Akja," which is the latest word in Alpine evacuation equipment. It has been approved by all European Rescue Organizations and is now standard equipment there. The Mountain Rescue Council at Seattle has acquired an Akja, which promises to be of great utility and value in future rescue operations. Construction is of aluminum. It comes in three sections. For winter use, all three sections are used, to permit a greater bearing-surface in snow. It is used as a "boat," and ski attachments are not necessary. For summer use the center section is removed, and only the end sections are used. This shortened model serves excellently for rock and ice evacuations, in which case it rests on steel runners which can easily be attached to it. For movement over trails a portable bicycle-wheel can quickly be added. Two sets of handles are included, a long pair when the Akja is used as a toboggan, a short pair for summer use. There are also attachments for the use of cables in the case of aerial evacuation. The Akja is said to be the "Cadillac" of mountain evacuation equipment and it has a multitude of features which other litters do not have. It can be carried in sections, has a built-in splint, protects the victim from rock and ice, can very easily be loaded, and its construction makes it comparatively easy to carry a casualty over long and difficult terrain of all kinds.

The cost of a complete Akja is about $125 plus freight. Both the probing poles and the Akja can be ordered from the Bavarian Red Cross Prasidium-Referat Bergwacht, Munich 22, Wagmuellerstrasse 16, Germany. Since this is life-saving apparatus which is used by non-profit organizations, no difficulty has been encountered in receiving this equipment duty-free.

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