Steep snow and ice search and rescue information

Bush Search and Rescue has members with specialist skills in alpine rescues on steep snow and ice terrain.  This is a specialist function within Bush Search and Rescue for members who have mountaineering experience using ice axes, crampons and ropes. 


Mandatory Personal Protection Equipment

The following personal protection equipment is compulsory for steep snow and ice callouts:

  • Climbing harness (UIAA-certified) 
  • Climbing helmet (UIAA-certified )
  • Ballistic rated sunglasses or ski goggles (safety equipment)
  • Skis and/or snow shoes
  • Rope (UIAA-certified) - one per team of 2 or 3 - minimum of 30m of 9mm rope 
  • Belay plate with locking karabiner
  • 4 locking karabiners
  • 3 prusik loops (one waist, one foot, one other – waist or a bit shorter)1
  • 1 sewn sling (120cm )
  • Crampons - 12 point (with appropriate boots, note that instep crampons are not appropriate) 
  • Ice axe

 Optional Personal Protection Equipment

  • Snow stake
  • 2 additional locking karabiners
  • Ice hammer or ski pole with self-arrest grip
  • Lightweight ascender, such as Petzl Tibloc or Wild Country Ropeman – can replace prusik loop for ascending or rigging pulley system
  • 1 pulley
  • 1 progress capture pulley (e.g. Petzl Micro Traxion)
  • Webbing (2 lengths) for makeshift sit and chest harnesses (for extricating lost person)
  • Avalanche transceiver
  • Avalanche probe
  • Snow shovel

See also


1 Prusik slings should be “navel to floor” for foot loop and “nose to navel” for waist loop. For 9-10mm climbing rope, 6-7mm prusik cord works best – as a guide 150cm for waist loop and 250cm for foot loop are about right after tying for an average height person. Too long is better than too short.