The Petzl RAD System (Rescue and Descent) is designed for skiers to rapidly perform crevasse rescue, rappelling or roping up to travel in glaciated terrain. The system consists of three tried & true Petzl devices; a Micro Traxion Hauling Pulley, a Tibloc and screwgate carabiners, and also adds a 6mm x 30m RAD Line, which forms the heart of the system. I couldn’t find any information on the RAD Line, but it appears to be some sort of thin static line with a nice tie-able sheath on it.
The true beauty of this system is that it is so compact and lightweight that you can always take it with you without incurring a big weight and bulk hit as happens with a traditional glacier rope and rescue kit. I had a chance to use the RAD System in Alaska last week and carried it with me 100% of the time, whereas with a standard system, the rope and glacier kit is one of the first things to get left behind if you find yourself in “safe” terrain. I fortunately never had the chance to set it up for a crevasse rescue, but just by looking at it, it obviously has all of the components of a Z-drag system, minus the complexity of rigging one.
I haven’t seen any test data on using a skinny static line for glacier travel, but from practical experience I can understand the theory. Unlike vertical rock climbing which uses friction belay devices and set protection, glacier travel uses running belays (a group of skiers tied together) and the system gets some of its dynamic loading from the rope cutting into the snow. Static lines are akin to steel cables and should never be used for belayed vertical climbing, but for glacier travel, they seem perfect. This detail is the one major caveat of the RAD System – it is a dedicated, specific use product which requires another acronym to safely use it: RFI (Read the F’ing Instructions).
The system comes pre-rigged from Petzl, but it is easy to uncouple the parts and use the RAD Line as a stand-alone glacier rope. One of the more unnerving things to get use to is how small the knots are when using a 6mm cord. On a standard 9.2mm rope a Figure 8 knot is the size of a fist, whereas with a 6mm it is about the size of two fingers. An added benefit of this is that small knots take up less length, so you can spread out a bit (yes, true, a very little bit) more on a 30m line when traveling.
The RAD System if due out in July 2015 and although I have no idea what the price will be, it’s the type of product that quickly pays itself off with each step you take.
Help support StraightChuter.com and be prepared for an emergency rope ascent with a Petzl Tibloc Ultralight Emergency Ascender from Backcountry.com. Click on the photo below.
Category: Gear Reviews