The Tragsitz – some memories!

The Tragsitz was used widely in the Alps and Jonnie Lees was a exponent of it. The finest achievement of Lees’s career – for which he became the only man to be awarded the George Medal for a cliff rescue – was the night rescue of Major Hugh Robertson, from a ledge on the Snowdonia cliff Craig yr Ysfa in January 1958.This was after taking a climber with serious head injuries of a crag in Wales ( Lees therefore improvised a sit-harness out of a coiled rope, the 14-stone soldier was hoisted on to his back, and the two were lowered – Robertson delirious and clawing at Lees’s face – into the vertical darkness and down to ground. The rescue, in bitter and savage conditions, undoubtedly saved Robertson’s life. Its aftermath saw considerable technical developments in mountain rescue, notably the introduction of the continental Tragsitz.

I have lots of memories of the dreaded Tragsitz. As a wee skinny lad I would have to take one of the bigger folk in the Mountain rescue team down a steep cliff. This was usually done training at Longhaven sea cliffs. My back was always sore after it and landing on ledges was awful. I felt I had limited balance and if folks were not there to help you at the bf end of a lower you both fell over. It battered your shoulders and I was so glad when we got rid of them. From then on it was a simple crag snatch for a fallen climber so much easier but still could be tricky.

1972 Paddy Allen at Longhaven sea cliffs

The Tragsitz designed for taking casualties storm steep rock faces whilst strapped to rescuer’s back. Mainly orange waterproof material with brown nylon and faded red leather straps and metal buckles.

The late Tom MacDonald plus casualty and Tragsitz at Elgin

Do you have any stories of the Tragsitz or photos ?

From the excellent website

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
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