MakeShift Challenge: Save a Man Stuck in a Fissure: Most Creative Entry

Greg Hora’s Most Creative Winning Entry
by Lee D. Zlotoff
January 05, 2007


Step-by-step procedure for rescuing a stranded hiker who has fallen into a pit.


1. Sustain stranded hiker’s health while performing the rescue.
2. Rescue victim from pit.
3. Sustain stranded hiker’s health while arranging emergency personnel to evacuate said hiker.


1. Sustain stranded hiker’s health while performing rescue.

A. A fresh air source must be provided while the rescue is preformed. The following items will be used:

Tent poles from tent.
Duct tape.
Hose/nipple from integrated water bottle.

B. A typical two-person backpacking tent will contain two poles used in maintaining the structure of the tent. They are typically 8-9 ft in length. These poles will have a bungee cord running in the middle of them. Cut the ends of these bungee cords and set aside for later.
C. Assemble the poles taping each of the joints with the duct tape to ensure an airtight seal. You should have two 8-9 ft poles at this point.
D. Tape the two poles together using the duct tape to make an air-tight seal.
E. Cut the hose/nipple assembly from the water bottle at the closest point to the water bottle, resulting in the maximum length of hose.
F. Attach hose to tent pole assembly using duct tape to ensure airtight seal. Leave other end of pole assembly open.
G. Lower the entire unit, hose first, down to the hiker. The hiker will be able to suck fresh air from the “straw” which has its open end exposed end above the pit allowing it access to fresh air. The nipple at the end of the hose will seal off when the hiker is not sucking air through it, thus preventing contamination of the air inside the “straw.”

Fig. 1: Straw Assembly.
Fig. 2: Straw assembly in pit.

2. Rescue victim from pit.

A. A cradle device used to pull the stranded hiker from the pit will be used. Mechanical advantage will be built into the system to account for the hiker’s additional weight. The items used for this step will be:

Bungee cords from tent poles
40 ft nylon cord
Tent stakes
Backpacking stove fuel bottle
Walking stick
Dining plate
Sleeping pad

B. Using the bungee cords cut from the tent poles in the first section, attach to backpack to make a cradle. See Fig. 3 for description. The ends of the bungee cords should be either tied to themselves or to the backpack, preventing the bungees from detaching from the backpack. Several loops back and forth should be possible; the loops should not extend past the backpack further than two feet. All the contents of the backpack should be removed.

Fig. 3: Backpack cradle with bungee cord strap.

C. It is assumed that the backpacking stove fuel bottle is similar to the ones shown in Fig. 4. The fuel bottle should be opened and all the flammable contents poured on some nearby sticks/brush. A sharp stone or Leatherman tool should be used to puncture a small hole in the bottom of the bottle.

Fig. 4: Fuel bottle.

D. Using the same sharp stone or knife, puncture a small hole in the middle of the dining plate.
E. Drop two tent stakes down the middle of the fuel bottle allowing the ends to go through the hole.
F. Feed the tent stakes through the hole in the dining plate.
G. Drive the tent stakes into the ground using the walking stick or a tree branch found near by. The stick can be inserted through the bottle’s opening, allowing direct pressure on the tent stakes.
H. Screw the head of the fuel bottle back on, inserting the walking stick through the hole.
I. Tie one end of the nylon rope to the head of the bottle.
J. Loop the other end of the nylon rope through the bungee cords tied to the backpack. Do not tie the nylon cord to the backpack.
K. Tie the other end of the nylon cord to any remaining tent stakes.
L. Drive the remaining tent stakes into the ground near the edge of the pit.
M. Arrange rocks near the edge of the pit to the height of the fuel bottle assembly and cover with the sleeping pad to minimize friction.
N. Lower backpack/bungee cord assembly to stranded hiker.
O. Hiker will move himself to a position where he is sitting on the backpack and holding the bungee cords.
P. The hiker will be pulled from the pit by twisting the hiking stick and wrapping the nylon cord around the fuel bottle. The dining plate the fuel bottle is sitting on top of will provide a stable surface while lowering friction.
Q. The mechanical advantage gained by this setup is:

The 2:1 ratio obtained by looping the nylon rope through the bungee cords instead of attaching it to them.
Using the walking stick as a lever arm to increase the torque at the fuel bottle.

Fig. 5: Fuel Bottle Assembly
Fig. 6 Total Assembly.

3. Sustain stranded hiker’s health while arranging emergency personnel to evacuate said hiker.

A. Once the stranded hiker is out of the pit, they must be stabilized to prevent shock while emergency help is obtained.
B. Take hiker to wooded area. (If no trees are present, disregard this step.)
C. Wrap hiker in sleeping bag while minimizing the movement of the broken leg.
D. Drape tent on trees (if present) or lay on top of hiker.
E. Start fire with the sticks and brush that had the white gas/propane poured on it. Leave enough wood for additional 24 hours.
F. Pour half of the water in the air mattress, leaving the other half for the hiker.
G. Leave food for the hiker, taking a small portion for yourself.
H. Using your maglite flashlight (it’s dark by now), along with the water-filled air mattress and snacks, hike back down the mountain to arrange a rescue party.

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