Ropes That Rescue: Rope Rigging Workshops, Staff

 President RTR - Administration & Registration (Jayne)
Vice President RTR - Senior Instructor USA (Reed)

Jayne & Reed Thorne

 Senior Instructor Australia

Len Batley

Lead & Assistant Instructors USA

Darrell Coates

Michael DeCraene

Kevin Frye

Mike Green

Matt Karas

Dave Van Holstyn

Del Miller

Greg Powell

Greg Sobole

Luke Thorne

Keith Thorne

Eric Ulner

Lead & Assistant Instructors Australia

Joel Graham

JAYNE THORNE, President/Administration RTR
Occupation: Part Time Nursing - RTR Registration and Administration
Living with husband, Reed, in Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona USA

REED THORNE, Vice President, Senior Instructor RTR USA
Occupation: Full time rescue/rigging instructor - Semi-retired mason
Living with wife, Jayne, in Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona USA


Jayne Thorne is the president of Ropes That Rescue Limited in Northern Arizona. She has a number of administrative duties at the company and is still involved with a long career in nursing. After several years working in critical care and radiology, she finally "retired" to a job at the hospital which she just loves: Cardiac Rehabilitation or Cardiac Rehab which is only a part time job for Jayne who must juggle responsibilities with RTR. 

Jayne has accompanied Reed on several of his training excursions around the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. Jayne loves to travel to France and is currently learning the language. 

Today, Jayne is a beginning painter and loves to work oil landscapes plein air on canvas, and accompanies her husband Reed on many outdoor excursions into the back country in Oak Creek Canyon where they reside. Jayne has two sons Luke and Keith, both of whom work part time for Ropes That Rescue accompanying their father Reed. Both boys are featured as instructors on this page. Jayne and Reed also have a daughter, Arianna, who is living in Nevada City, California with her soon-to-be husband, Shaun. Arianna is still heavily involved with dancing and stage performing. 

Jayne's big passion is reading a good book next to a warm fire. She also loves walking their two dogs  (Sugar Cookie, the golden retriever, and Iona, the puppy golden-doodle) in the forest behind the house. She is also a wonderful cook!

Reed Thorne has been involved in the teaching of techniques relative to the 'vertical realm' since the early 1970's. In Southern California, his first activities dealing with rope were with the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter (Orange County Group) where Reed became a Hundred Peak, Rock Climbing and Mountaineering Section leader through training with the Sierra Club's Leadership Section. He eventually moved into rope rescue instruction under nationally-recognized US National Park SAR ranger, Butch Farabee, at the Grand Canyon in Arizona between the years of 1981 and 1986. Butch is credited with having shaped Reed's early years as a rope instructor.

In 1989, Reed was also instrumental in the preliminary testing of belay techniques alongside John Dill of Yosemite SAR and Arnör Larson of the British Columbia Council of Technical Rescue in BC, Canada. These tests still remain some of the most extensive ever attempted by a volunteer team of lay-researchers, the results of which were published in Response Magazine in the highly acclaimed 1990 article "Are You Really On Belay?" by John Dill. Many of Reed's hand-drawn illustrations accompanied this article.

Reed was an early participant in rope access before the term became well established. He practices rope access procedures often on his back yard training and testing tower. His services through Ropes That Rescue have been required on several dams and bridges throughout the Southwest including work on Salt River Project hydro dams and also Hoover Dam along with Jayne Thorne, Reed's wife. The Arizona Department of Transportation structural engineers were taught  by RTR during the construction of Navajo Bridge over Marble Canyon in 1995. His work with various construction companies such as Edward Kraemer and Sons, Kiewitt Western and Vastco Company have earned him a reputation as a knowledgeable technical rigger where understanding and safety are of paramount concern.

He formerly was the primary rope discipline instructor for the Arizona State Fire Marshal's Office for over five years before privately forming Ropes That Rescue Ltd. (RTR) in 1993. Since then, RTR has traveled and taught extensive programs to fire/EMS agencies around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, Canada and Japan. Mining and oil refineries from Arizona to northern Canada have contracted rescue programs within the challenging terrains of their own operations. Electric power utilities and others have also used Reed to teach their emergency response teams and difficult rope access on high voltage power transmission structures. His thorough knowledge of the electric power delivery industry has lead to many of the procedures and techniques he espouses in his rigging courses. In 2000, Reed's pioneering power line rescue techniques were featured in the History Channel special"High Voltage" (on 'Suicide Missions') delineating extra hazardous rescue procedures with Georgia Power transmission linemen on energized 500,000 volt power lines. 

During times that Reed is not teaching rope rescue programs, or consulting for industry, he still dabbles in brickwork as an accomplished mason. Brickwork had previously been his main living since the early '70's. Along with his wife, he designed and built his own three-level masonry home in Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona north of Sedona which is built from native river stone and old Phoenix sand mold brick. Reed still comes "out of hiding" to work on custom brick jobs and interesting Rumford fireplaces around the Southwest. Check the Rumford web site for Reed's masonry work rumford.com/Thorne.html. Reed also dabbles in cartooning for different publications. He is also an artist preferring oil on canvas along with his wife Jayne.  Some of his pen and ink, oil and acrylic paintings can be seen on the slider below. 

  • Jayne Marie Pfaff and Reed Bradford Thorne were married in Orange, California in May of 1979. Reed, as an English-trained brick layer, was a full time masonry contractor and did many custom brick jobs around Orange County (CA) while Jayne was working as an entry-level psyche tech. They met and fell in love and married with plans of getting out of the rat race called California. Upon their wedding, they left the same day on their honeymoon to live in Sedona, Arizona and start a new life. Because Reed's parents, Keith and Betty, had bought a home in Sedona near the Chapel of the Holy Cross church in 1974, they were both familiar with the area and desired to start a new construction business there. See next slide.

    Read more about Jayne HERE. And Reed HERE.

  • Jayne Marie Pfaff and Reed Bradford Thorne were married in Orange, California in May of 1979. Reed, as an English-trained brick layer, was a full time masonry contractor and did many custom brick jobs around Orange County (CA) while Jayne was working as an entry-level psyche tech. They met and fell in love and married with plans of getting out of the rat race called California. Upon their wedding, they left the same day on their honeymoon to live in Sedona, Arizona and start a new life. Because Reed's parents, Keith and Betty, had bought a home in Sedona near the Chapel of the Holy Cross church in 1974, they were both familiar with the area and desired to start a new construction business there. See next slide.

    Read more about Jayne HERE. And Reed HERE.

  • Continued from last slide.

    With his father, Reed built several custom brick homes as speculation in the Chapel area. Reed then formed a company with his friend, Ron Dibble, which was called obviously "Thorne and Dibble Construction" where Ron, the carpenter, and Reed, the mason teamed up for some huge building projects. Reed joined the Sedona Fire District as a fire fighter in 1981 and loved it. Soon afterwards, he was asked by the then fire chief, Gary Anderson, to lead up a new rope rescue team there in the red rocks of the area. The rest is history. It is a good ending. In 1990, Reed and Jayne designed and built their three story masonry English Tudor home in Oak Creek Canyon 5 miles north of the town of Sedona. See photo in this photo slider.   

  • Those are all real freckles!

  • Jayne & Irish Dancing Daughter Arianna. This was on a family vacation trip to Ireland and Scotland in 2004. It was Jayne and Reed's 25th wedding anniversary.

  • Reed Thorne during the 2021 RTR Tactical Wilderness Rescue Workshop in Jerome, AZ on Hawaiian Shirt Day. Big Scandinavian "Scottish" ancestry with all the traits of a Viking.  But not complaining and looking back. 

  • Jayne with Quebec lineman, Claude LePoint during tower rescue training in 2002. Even though Claude could not speak a word of English, Jayne and he still hit it off during the training. There was instant "communication" between the two. 

  • Jayne Thorne working with her husband, Reed, on Salt River Project Horse Mesa Dam concrete spillway inspection in 1999. 

  • Jayne sitting reading Diana Gabaldon novel "Outlander" on top of spillway during Salt River Project spillway inspection in 1999. She was in charge of the top station. And as you can see, she was quite taken care of out of the hot Arizona sunshine!

  • Reed Thorne (shown going over edge) with Jayne Thorne at the Salt River Project Horse Mesa Dam spillway inspection in 1999.

  • Jayne Thorne with daughter, Arianna 2014

  • Arianna Thorne with her father, Reed, at a 2007 Irish Dance 'Feis' (competition) in Fort Collins, Colorado after she had qualified in Irish Dancing for World Championships in Dublin, Ireland. 

  • Jayne and Reed in New Zealand - Franz Josef Glacier 2013

  • Jayne Thorne working with Version 1 Arizona Vortex - Sedona Fire District 1996 Technical Rescue Team during training at Indian Bathtub, Oak Creek Canyon. 

  • Sequoia, the Green Cheek Conure is Reed and Jayne's pet 

  • From far left, Keith Thorne, RTR Assistant Instructor, Yamaji, Osuga, John Meiki (our interpreter for Japan courses), Hayayshida, Toshima and Reed Thorne far right (with the chop sticks). John Meiki is half American as his mother was from New York. He is the prefect interpreter! And a good friend indeed! 

  • Reed loves drawing stupid cartoons!

  • Jayne and Reed are founding members of the OAK CREEK CANYON PAINTING SOCIETY (OCCPS)

    Jayne finishing an oil painting in the studio. Look at the "halo" behind her head! That WAS NOT planned but it fits her perfectly! She is a Saint. 

  • Sedona Red Rock News photo of Reed during the 1989 world record Kootenay Highline (2,234') from Teapot Rock with Arnör Larson of RIGGING FOR RESCUE.

  • Masonry is Reed's first love in life. Here, Reed finishes off a custom Rumford (modified) at the house in Calf Creek, Utah near Escalante. Photo by Gary Garland 2000

  • As a very new linemen, Reed did some pretty dumb and dangerous things when he was younger and not wise to inherent dangers. Here he is sent sliding down the very top static wire on the Chino-San Onofre 220kv transmission line in the Santa Ana Mountains going after a runaway Stockbridge vibration damper.  

  • Reed on the center bundle and energized at half a million volts (500kv) during the filming of the History Channel Suicide Missions Special "HIGH VOLTAGE" 2001

  • Reed (for right) on 500kv tower swing arm in the Providence Mountains in the Mojave Desert. 1972.

  • Keith (Reed's middle son) and Reed about to dive into some awesome Japanese food. Keith is going for the veggies and Reed is eyeing the sushi bar.

  • Reed riding a Kootenay highline in a 1987 Rigging for Rescue program in Invermere, Brittish Columbia with Arnör Larson. Jayne Thorne, who took this photo, was present with their first son, Luke, who was just 1 year old at the time. 

  • Reed and Jayne did a special job for the US Dept of Interior at Hoover Dam. Reed shown here is rappelling off the edge to install surveying prisms at various locations on the wall on river right below the dam. Powerhouse below and Hoover Dam to left. 

  • Hunting "multi-part" insulators. One of Reed's passion is the collecting of old historic porcelain electric power insulators from the early days of line work in the USA. Some of these early pieces, called "mud" by collectors, are very rare and valuable. Some of Reed's collection are examples of some of the earliest rare "multipart" insulators and some are the only in existence. In this photo, Reed is carefully excavating the site of an old power pole on a very historic 60kv power line from Niagara Falls to Syracuse, New York. The very rare multipart called "M-3890" is seen in pieces here in the forest near the Syracuse Fair Grounds. See next....

  • The basement "man cave" at Reed and Jayne's home in Oak Creek Canyon.

    Continued from previous photo..... All the pieces were found and the multipart was successfully restored "Humpty-Dumpty" style (called a "kitsulator") and is now in Reed's Man Cave.  It took many days to excavate all the pieces of this historic multipart. The probe that Reed is holding in his left hand is used for probing for parts of the insulator below the duff that has formed there since it was thrown down off the pole and broken into bits. 

    The caramel colored M-3890 "kitsulator" spoken of in the previous slide photo (from the Syracuse Fair Grounds area) is seen back together and fully restored to its original beauty on the right of Reed's computer desk. The kitsulator had over 200 pieces which all had to be puzzled back together painstakingly.  You may recognize some of Reed's paintings on the wall.

  • Reed's partial "Man Cave" Porcelain Insulator Collection. Much of this collection is from pre-1915.

  • Jayne and Reed are founding members of the OAK CREEK CANYON PAINTING SOCIETY (OCCPS)

    Reed Thorne oil painting the water feature "slide" at famous Slide Rock in Oak Creek Canyon during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Slide Rock is normally jamb-packed with tourists at all times of the year, but due to the virus, we at the OCCPS had the whole place to ourselves. It was wonderful!

  • Painting 1 - Acrylic on Canvas 24" x 48"

  • Painting 2 - Acrylic on Canvas 24" x 48"

  • Painting #3

    "Sammie", the Macaw: Oil on canvas from photo, 16" x 24" 2021

  • Painting 4: Glencoe, Scotland - Oil on Canvas 16" x 24"

  • This is a classic basalt climb at The Overlook at the head of Oak Creek Canyon. It has a massive overhang and roof on the direct exit which goes at 5:9. This is a photo of Reed taken by Dave Keeber in 1987. Yes, Reed is sporting a pair of cool lycra tights!

  • Luke Thorne (left), Reed Thorne and Keith Thorne (right) assist their father in laying a brick retaining wall at their home in Shangri-La in Oak Creek Canyon. This particular brick laying pattern is called a "hodge-podge" style and uses every unusable piece of left over broken masonry including anything else imaginable, including the broken green glass insulator, referred to as a "Muncie", to the left of Keith. 

  • A custom brick job by Sedona's Reed Masonry: Brick groin vaulting is perhaps at the top of the skillset that is English and European masonry. It was exactly what was constructed for all the major cathedrals and castles. Many were done from stone, although structurally, these were inferior to brick. This would render a completely all-masonry ceiling with no wooden features which would decay over time.

    See next photo for underside of this vaulted ceiling

  • See previous slide. 

    They are very heavy and have huge outward thrust forces on the corner supports like this one for a private residence in North Slopes Subdivision in Sedona, Arizona. Reed Masonry along with Thorne & Dibble Construction were hired to do this vault on a home they were building. The forms to hold the brick groin vault took one full week to make. It took another two weeks to lay. 

  • Spiral brick chimneys which Reed Masonry was contracted for in early 1970's while living in Southern California (Cowen Heights and Tustin area).  This double barrel style of chimney originated in England and Reed used the same concept in the construction of his 30' high chimney on his home in Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona. See next 2 photos for this masonry.

  • Reed and Jayne designed and built their three story home in Oak Creek Canyon starting in 1989. Because Reed is an accomplished mason (brick and stone) they wanted to show off those talents in a house with 3 Rumford heating fire places. The chimney is 30' high constructed from old Phoenix jumbo sand mold used brick and basalt river stone excavated on site. Reed placed climbing bolts and hangers into the masonry at intervals so his two boys, Luke and Keith could climb it using a safety belay rope. The house was designed around the existing trees on the lot so very few had to be removed for construction.

  • This is a pen and ink drawing Reed did for his daughter, Arianna, for a present. It is Christmas time during winter and you can see the decorated tree in the bay window near the center of the artwork.

  • The Toyota 60 Series Land Cruiser is so incredible and so desirable that even Toyota was at one point considering bring it back in late 2018! Reed has had his 1983 Cruiser for much of his adult life and takes really good care of it. Since Arizona does not use a salt mix on their highways like most states do, there is no rust whatsoever on the body. The YETI company even designed a special cooler (the rear) for Reed to match the paint job!  (Kidding)
    Many people around Sedona and the area who have become accustomed to seeing Reed driving the Land Cruiser with the big, lighted whip flag. They invariably ask "Why the red flag, and why the light?". His response to these inquiries is humorous. His answer is that he needs the flag during the daytime, and at night, the light also because when he comes out of the grocery store, it becomes much easier to remember where his parked vehicle is in the large parking lot. He tells them that this is a natural side effect of aging! Some people are truly shocked but others get the humor. 
    Well, anyway, it is not true. The light and the red flag are needed (actually required) when Reed enters mine property and drives on their haulage roads for a rescue class. 
    So, no worries.... 😊

  • Yes, Reed has ALWAYS had long hair after high school. 

  • Hawaiian Shirt Day for Tactical Wilderness Rescue Workshop taught in October 2021 at Jerome Fire Department. WARNING! Scandinavian "Viking" ALERT on far right! 

  • RTR has been 'sponsoring' (Adopt-A-Highway) a two mile section of Arizona scenic highway 89-A in Oak Creek Canyon since 1993. This beautiful scenic section is just above Midgley Bridge and includes a spectacular vista of the red rock Mitten Ridge and famous Teapot Rock (just behind the right sign post). 


  • Reed and Jayne's daughter, Arianna Thorne standing in front of the painting by John William Waterhouse painting of The Lady of Shalott from the Tenneyson Poem. See next slide.

  • This John William Waterhouse painting illustrates Alfred Tennyson's poem The Lady of Shalott. Draped over the boat is the fabric the lady wove in a tower near Camelot. But she brought a curse on herself by looking directly at Sir Lancelot. With her right hand she lets go of the chain mooring the boat. Her mouth is slightly open, as she sings 'her last song'. She stares at a crucifix lying in front of her. Beside it are three candles, often used to symbolize life. Two have blown out. This suggests her life will end soon, as she floats down the river.

    From Reed Thorne: The classic Brittish Pre-Raphaelite style John William Waterhouse painting of The Lady of Shalott from the Tenneyson Poem. The painting is my favorite classical piece found in the Tate Museum in London. I stood in awe of it when I visited the Tate in 1974.



LEN BATLEY, Australia Senior Instructor
Adelaide, South Australia AU

Occupation: Station Officer - South Australia Metro Fire Brigade (SAMFS)

  • LEN BATLEY Photos

Len Batley during the Structural Tower Rescue Workshop in Adelaide, South Australia in 2008. "Ruggedly good looking"

Len Batley is a Fire Officer with the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service, in Adelaide, South Australia. He has over 30 years experience in Emergency Services specializing in Technical Rescue. Len has achieved instructor status with many emergency services Australia wide as well as holding many international qualifications. During his time in the Fire Service he started and coordinated the rope rescue program expanding in to other areas of technical rescue. This involved the initial implementation and training of instructors, and the control of quality standards through all shifts and departments of the Fire Service.

In 1998 Len was awarded the prestigious Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship. This opportunity enabled Len to study technical rescue with emergency organizations in Canada, United States, Sweden, United Kingdom and Singapore for six months. Utilizing his knowledge gained locally and internationally Len has set up a training company (Fire & Rescue Australia). Fire & Rescue Australia specializes in teaching ongoing training to corporations, emergency services members and individuals. Participants frequently describe Len's courses as "the most intensive, enjoyable learning experience in Australia for rescuers". Len is privileged to be working with Ropes that Rescue and hopes he may be able learn from Reed and other members and to share his knowledge with rescuers all over the world.

Len Batley

Len standing above Utah's Escalante River near Death Box Hollow during the 2002 Canyon Rescue Workshop and Skunk Camp

KEVIN FRYE, Lead Instructor
Carlsbad, California USA
Occupation: Los Angeles County Captain

  • KEVIN FRYE Photos

FryeTillerKevin Frye is a Captain with the County of Los Angeles Fire Department. He first experienced the allure of climbing and the outdoors at Joshua Tree National Park at the age of 7, and attended his first rope rescue class at the age of 17. He has been playing on rope ever since. 

 Kevin’s first teaching job was as a weapons instructor in the United States Marine Corps at Quantico, Virgina in 1990. He also became a volunteer fireman in Triangle, VA during that time. In 1993 he  was honorably discharged and was simultaneously hired with the Prince William County Fire Department. Introduced to technical rescue, Kevin found a way to turn his passion for rope into part of his profession.  Continuing his fire service education, he attended many fire and technical rescue courses and obtained his Associate Instructor certificate from the VA. Department of Fire Programs. Kevin then instructed as an apprentice in many Technical Rescue classes for PWC and the State of VA. 

In 1996 Kevin returned to his native California where he served as a Deputy Sheriff with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. In  1998 he left the Sheriff’s Department and was hired by the County of Los Angeles Fire Department where he currently is today.

Since February of 2000, Kevin has been assigned at every rank to USAR Task Force 103, one of two Technical Rescue Units in L.A. County. He has spent several years on other Engine and Truck Companies, but the majority of his tenure has been spent at USAR TF 103 where he serves presently as Captain. 

Kevin is also an Operations Manager for CATF-2 (FEMA) / USA-2 (USAID). He has deployed to many different locations within the US and internationally on disaster responses as a Rescue/ Technical Search specialist, Rescue Squad Officer, Liaison, USAR Coordinator, and Operations Manager.  Additionally, he has served as a rescue operations evaluator for INSARAG, and had the privilege of working with many agencies involved with disaster response around the world. 

From an instructional standpoint, Kevin is currently a Senior/ Lead Instructor for L.A. County Fire Department in the disciplines of Rope Rescue, and Building Collapse. He also co-authored the LACoFD’s first Firefighter Survival Program with his friend and mentor, Captain Wayne Ibers in 2003. Kevin has also taught Confined Space, Swiftwater, Wilderness SAR, and other ancillary Technical Rescue subjects. 

Kevin began working for Ropes That Rescue in 2005 and has taught many classes with multiple agencies including fire departments, utility companies, Outward Bound, and SAR groups. He loves being a part of the RTR “Family” and highly regards the level of professionalism the other staff members exemplify in their own lives. On teaching with RTR he says..“The thing I love most is I always learn something cool from a student”!

Currently living in Carlsbad, CA, Kevin is married to his wife, Shannon, and has two sons Connor and Kaelen. He enjoys anything outdoors, but fly fishing and working on his hot rod are two of his favorite pursuits. 


Kevin Frye, as an ex-Marine, is very definitive in his instruction methods. Here he is telling students exactly what he wants during a 2007 TSRW in Sedona, AZ

Above: Kevin and canine/pet, "Tiller" in recent training at San Bernardino County Sheriff's SAR in 2007

Above: Kevin is quite the cook. Here he bakes up an apple cobbler during the Hurricane Island Outward Bound Mountain Rescue Workshop in 2004


Above: Kevin with his TF 103 Crew on a backcountry helicopter insertion



 Above: Kevin instructing at a team training at Joshua Tree National Park


Sons Connor and Kaelen with wife, Shannon. The Frye Family at Connor’s Eagle Scout Ceremony


As an RSO working on a 6 story building collapse in Mexico City in 2017

MIKE GREEN, Lead Instructor
New Windsor, Maryland USA
Occupation: Station Commander - Montgomery County Fire and Rescue

  • MIKE GREEN Photos

Green1Mike Green is a Captain with the Montgomery County (Maryland) Fire and Rescue Department where he is currently the Station Commander of Fire Station 29. This station is one of two technical rescue stations, and houses the heavy rescue unit he rides and helped his department design.  He is also a member of Maryland Task Force 1, a FEMA US&R Team, where he serves as the Assistant Rescue Team Manager.  Although involved with many disciplines of technical rescue, Mike enjoys technical rope rescue very much.  He has taught thousands of hours of technical rescue courses for his own department and technical rescue team, the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, FEMA’s US&R program, and at other venues.  Prior to becoming an official instructor for RTR, he acted as an assistant in a number of courses.  He credits much of his success in rope rescue to Reed Thorne, owner of RTR, and also Kirk Mauthner (of British Columbia), both of whom he has studied extensively with over the past 25+ years.

In addition to teaching for RTR, Mike also owns Mid-Atlantic Technical Rescue and MATR Crane and Rigging.  MATR is focused on teaching other technical rescue disciplines such as heavy auto extrication, industrial rigging, physics and math for technical rescuers, etc.  MATR Crane and Rigging is a commercial crane rental and rigging company.  Mike has an associate’s degree in Engineering.  Physics and mathematics play a crucial role in all aspects of technical rescue and heavy rigging, and he enjoys applying these principles to a wide range of technical rescue scenarios and problems.  He especially enjoys the rare opportunity to “elevate the bar” and teach technical rescue at a truly advanced level (such as RTR’s AAAS/BTBF course).  Another interest of Mike’s is research and testing of technical rescue equipment and systems, which he does on a frequent basis.  Like physics and math, testing is also a critical component of technical rescue.  Although it has taken a back seat to other interests, he also has a background in climbing (rock and ice) and mountaineering.  He lives near Frederick, Maryland with his wife Sharyn, daughters Courtney and Lindsey, a dog, Bella, and Max the cat.



Mike climbing Mt. Athabasca BC and, below, on North Star Peak BC during RIGGING FOR RESCUE course with Kirk Mauthner 2003. Notice the AZTEK kit on Mike's side!

Matt Karas, Assistant Instructor
Frederick County, Maryland USA
He is currently the assistant team leader and training coordinator for Frederick Counties Technical Rescue Team

  • Matt Karas
  • Matt Karas Photos

Karas1Matt Karas at the Frederick Watershed, Maryland teaching the Team Skills Rescue Workshop with Lead Instructor, Mike Green in 2020"

Matt Karas is a Lieutenant with Frederick County, Maryland Fire and Rescue where he is assigned to Station 3 in downtown Frederick. He is currently the assistant team leader and training coordinator for Frederick Counties Technical Rescue Team, which provides all disciplines of technical rescue response. Matt is also a fire academy instructor, Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute rescue instructor, and SPRAT rope access technician. He is the lead instructor for many of Frederick’s Rope Rescue Technician classes and has taught hundreds of hours of other rescue courses.

Although involved in all aspects of technical rescue, Matt enjoys rope rescue the most. That is a good thing. He took his first RTR workshop in 2015 and has been hooked ever since. Since then, he has taken 10 plus RTR courses. He has had the pleasure of learning from numerous RTR lead and assistant instructors. Matt functioned as the “hey, go double check that rigging” guy numerous times before officially being asked to join as an RTR assistant instructor late in 2020. Matt taught his first RTR course with Mike Green in fall 2020.

Matt Karas

Matt (center) as Rescue 3 Chauffeur, second alarm fire Brunswick MD

Fishing in Marathon FL, 43 pound Permit

Fishing in Marathon FL, 43 pound Permit

ERIC ULNER, Lead Instructor
Buncombe, Illinois USA
Occupation: Arborist

  • ERIC ULNER Photos

Eric Ulner in Sedona, Arizona training 2007

Eric Ulner entered the vertical world during high school in 1977, learning rock climbing on the sandstone cliffs of Southern Illinois. Since then, climbing has been a constant. He has opened over 150 new climbing routes in Southern Illinois, and has climbed in areas across the United States. In 1981, Eric concurrently began a 12-year tenure as a Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido instructor at Southern Illinois and Southeast Missouri State Universities, and at private schools. He feels that he draws upon this foundation of precision-coordination teaching when teaching anything, especially the technical aspects of both rigging and climbing movement. Â Since 1993, Eric and his wife, Kathy, have owned and operated the Vertical Heartland Climbing School. In 1996, they purchased about ¼ mile of the 110-foot high south face of Draper's Bluff in Southern Illinois, built their home at the base, and have since operated the climbing school on site.

In the mid-1990s, Eric received training up through advanced rock guide with the American Mountain Guide Association, focusing heavily on multi-pitch guiding and minimalist rescue scenarios. Eric joined the Ropes That Rescue staff in 2005, after training with Reed Thorne since 2002. If not teaching for Reed, Eric can otherwise be found doing complex rigging for sectional trimming and removal of trees leaning over homes with his business, Rope Science Tree Service .

A sampling of Eric's other work includes: changing out 500-pound Hilton Hotel signs via rope access 380 feet above the streets of Springfield, IL; teaching rope skills to Team Columbia Sportswear (EcoChallenge); rope accessed hi-rise window washing in St. Louis; and rigging for a Rescue 911 television show.

He is the author of three editions of Vertical Heartland: A Rock Climber's Guide to Southern Illinois, having finished the latest in early 2005. He is a licensed Emergency Medical Technician- Intermediate level- with 13 years of ambulance experience at Jackson County, Illinois. Despite swapping full-time ambulance work for his tree service, Eric remains on the ambulance employee roster to lead the Jackson County Rope Rescue Team in regular trainings and the occasional real call. Eric holds a Bachelor of Science degree in-Recreation from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Away from work, he enjoys rock climbing with Kathy and their son, Lukas, and his other passions of martial arts and in-line skating.

The Ulner family from left to right: Eric, Lukas (11) and Kathy

Eric climbing "Bolted One" at Jackson Falls in southern illinois (Click to Enlarge) Photo by Mike Landkroom (professional climbing photographer)

DAVE VAN HOLSTYN, Lead Instructor
Grand Rapids, Michigan USA
Occupation: Lieutenant - Grand Rapids Fire Department (retired)



Dave Van Holstyn began his formal technical rescue training in 1993 as a charter member of the GRFD confined space rescue team, but his exposure to working at heights started in high school while doing work on communications towers. Dave is a team leader for the West Michigan Regional Collapse Rescue Team and as a state certified instructor is active in teaching structural collapse rescue, however rope rescue remains his specialty. He has conducted countless classes, not only for fire departments in Michigan, but also for industrial rescuers in a dozen states and Canada. Dave has made several presentations at the Fire Department Instructors Conference in Indianapolis and is also one of their Hands-On Instructors. Dave was involved in the development of programs on firefighter survival, rapid intervention teams, and most recently industrial extrication.


"I think what attracted me to the fire service was the challenge of being called to the worst of situations with the expectation that we will solve the problem. And we do. We have to. There isn't anyone else".

Technical rescue incidents present some of the most challenging of those incidents.


The best memories of his career are intertwined with his worst. The best revolve around the opportunity to not only meet, work, and train with but to also become friends with the best firefighters in the country. These were men who not only understood the mission of the fire service and did it well, but who also exhibited the traits of a leader; humility, compassion and a genuine desire to help others. Tragically several of them were killed on 9/11/01.

"I'll never forget Lt. Peter Martin, FF John Vigiano, his brother, NYPD Detective Joseph Vigiano and the nearly 400 others who died because they understood the mission and didn't back away."

Dave's wife of 27 years is Joanne, a special education teacher. They have three children, Mark, Beth and Renee. As time allows they like to ride the bikes trails in Michigan and enjoy taking day hikes, then relaxing around the campfire.

"The thing I really enjoy about being associated with RTR is the opportunity to get outside the cookie cutter mentality that surrounds rope rescue in the fire service. The challenges of doing more with less (both people and equipment), the problem solving required combined with the opportunity to work in some of the most unique venues in the country is awesome. On top of all that, you get to meet and work with some of the best rope rescue people in the country....definitely the cream of the crop!"



VH1 during the Structural Tower Rescue Workshop in Michigan n 2008.


VH1 attands a ltter in his fire department's training in 2002.

VH1 helps practitioners in 2006 Indianapolis Industrial Rescue Workshop above water filled spillway

GREG POWELL, Assistant Instructor
Sacramento, California USA
Occupation: Fire BC/Paramedic - Sacramento Fire Department (retired)

  • GREG POWELL Photos

Greg Powell

Greg Powell was a career Fire Captain/Paramedic with the Sacramento Fire Department where he was assigned to Rescue 20, the department's only technical rescue company. Rescue 20 specializes in swiftwater rescue, high and low angle rope rescue, trench rescue, confined space rescue, and heavy object lifting and breaching. He has been in the fire service for over 21 years.

Greg started his fire service career in 1986 with the California Department of Forestry. He then left Cal Fire as an Engineer and took a job with his current department, Sacramento Fire Department. During his time with Sacramento Fire he has become a Haz Mat Specialist/Instructor, SPRAT (Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians) rope access certified, Swiftwater Technician/Instructor, Swiftwater Boat Operator/Instructor, Rope Technician instructor, and a Haz Mat EOD consultant. He is a member of FEMA’s CA-TF-7 USAR team and has held positions in rescue, medical, safety, and is currently one of three Haz Mat Team Leaders. Greg has been deployed to several FEMA USAR incidents with CA-TF-7 and Cal EMA Swiftwater Boat incidents with Cal EMA Swiftwater/Flood Boat Team 7.

Called the "Powellnernator" by his friends, Powell spends much of his free time with his wife, Michelle, whitewater rafting. Michelle is a professional river guide and spends her summers on the water. She has traveled across the United States and to New Zealand. Greg, if not rafting or teaching, spends some of his free time climbing, restoring old muscle cars, and his greatest passion is working on airplanes and crewing for a race plane at the Reno Air Races every year. Greg was present during the tragedy at the Reno Air Races in 2011 and was first on the scene to aid with the mayhem that ensued.


The "Powellnernator" with his typical gargantuan load to the top of Doe Mountain during the 2007 Advanced Skills Rescue Workshop

GREG SOBOLE, Assistant Instructor
Seattle, Washington USA
Occupation: Seattle Fire Department - Rescue 1


  • GREG SOBOLE Photos

Soboleonbridge1Gregory Sobole is a caffeine dependent introvert who daily realizes he’s not actually as good as he once thought he was. A fireman from Seattle he plies his craft assigned to Rescue 1 (Ladder 7) and has  taught with RTR for a number of years. 

After completing Jedi training, he and his family moved to an undisclosed location where he enjoys teaching the next generation outstanding knotcraft and how to cook a proper steak (well done to burnt with ketchup). He is a member in good standing of the NRA, AAA and Costco.

Greg attends a litter on the 750' high Forest Hill Bridge, America's 3rd highest, in a Team Skills Rescue Workshop in 2006.

Clara looking rather intent on retrieving a ball!

LUKE THORNE, Lead Instructor (BTBF) all others, Assistant Instructor
Flagstaff, Arizona USA

Occupation: Pastor assistant at Wayside Bible Chapel in Sedona, AZ


  • Luke Thorne
  • Luke Thorne Photos
LukeatsceLuke Thorne is Reed and Jayne's oldest son (born 1986) He and his wife, Jessica, both reside in Flagstaff, AZ where they are raising their two children, Eliana and Miles. Luke is an assistant pastor at the Wayside Bible Chapel in Sedona. 

He has many talents and often helps his father, Reed, teach the medical and technical aspects of rope rescue. Luke is the principle instructor for the "Beyond The Barn Floor" 3 day seminar when taught in Arizona where he presents advanced calculus, trigonometry and physics. (See page 2 of the FLYER HERE)

Previously, Luke took the Emergency Medical Technician course at the local college, passing the national certification with ease. In 2008 Luke became a reserve fire fighter with Rimrock Fire Dept. south of Sedona. In the summer of 2010 he worked as a wildland fire fighter for Crown King Fire Dept. Luke has also certified as a rope access technician Level 1 with the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians.

Luke helps his father, Reed, train Southern California Edison Linemen on proper C spine immobilization in 2008. Luke is a Nationally Certified EMT

Luke (red helmet) woking with transmission crews during the 2011 Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power Tower Rescue Program in Sun Valley, California


 KEITH THORNE, Assistant Instructor
Flagstaff, Arizona USA
Occupation: Arborist with Mick's Tree Service (Flagstaff) and L3 SPRAT with Abseilon Inc. (Phoenix)

  • Keith Thorne
  • Keith Thorne Photos
keithbonny1Keith Thorne is Reed and Jayne Thorne's middle son (born 1990). He is a regular assistant co-instructor with his father, Reed, and travels extensively around the United States, Canada, Australia, England/Scotland, Japan and anyplace else were he can assist in rope rescue or rigging classes for Ropes That Rescue. Known as a true critical thinker, he prides his ability to think outside the box with the students. Keith is a regular co-instructor along with his brother, Luke. The two boys love teaching rigging at RTR programs and  regularly accompany each other in climbing, mountain biking, camping, hiking and anything to do with the backcountry. Keith has taken up the guitar and loves reading as a pastime. He and sister, Arianna Rose (born 1993), also enjoy acro yoga (acrobatic yoga) whenever they are together. He also loves working out with weights, resistance bands and in a devotee to the P90X regimen.


Professional Accomplishments:
Keith has also certified as a rope access technician  supervisor Level 3 with the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT) and has supervised rope access jobs on wind turbines, bridges and hydroelectric dams throughout the USA for Abseilon in Phoenix. Keith has also worked both in Saudi Arabia for Arabian Rope Services and in Queensland, Australia with Rob Stringer and his rope access company, Highpoint Access and Rescue

In 2020, Keith competed with two friends (Both RTR alumni) in the North American Petzl North American ROPE TRIP in Salt Lake City, Utah where they took first place honors for Abseilon. They were slated to then compete in the 2021 Petzl Rope Trip World Championships in Singapore but that was unfortunately cancelled due to the worldwide pandemic. 

Left, Keith with Golden Retriever, Bonny

Keith Thorne, Wilson Cutbirth and Greg Fishell winning FIRST PLACE at the 2020 Petzl North American ROPE TRIP in Salt Lake City.
Keith Thorne working on rope above Pacific Ocean in Queensland Australia for Highpoint Access & Rescue in 2016.
Keith Thorne working high above the Grand Canyon on the SKYWALK for Abseilon of Phoenix. 

Keith on the top conductor watching students below during OHRW (Offset Highline Rescue Workshop) in California in 2012.


Keith Thorne on his first pole climb in Plymouth, MA during NSTAR Utilities program with his father, Reed


Keith on Mint Jamb at the Overlook in Oak Creek Canyon


Keith and sister, Arianna Thorne, practice acro yoga (acrobatic yoga) in Yosemite Valley in 2013


Keith and Bonnie, our family golden retriever.

Keith in Japanese custom program 2012


 Darrell Coates, Assistant Instructor
Orlando, Florida
Occupation: Lieutenant Seminole County Fire Department

  • Darrell Coates
  • Darrell Coates Photos

Hurricane Michael USAR Deployment Mexico Beach FloridaDarrell Coats s a Pennsylvania native before migrating to Florida and grew up in an era known for expressing oneself and dubbed the “70s”. He was raised as a very humbled self-confident, ambitious, courageous, athletic, and analytically spirited individual. Darrell enjoys the thrill of embracing challenges and adamantly believes that anything in life that’s worth doing is always worth over doing it!

His arduous journeys to seek out the adventurous life of personal growth and development led Darrell to discover the uniquely aspiring professions of public safety. This is where he’s edifying his passion for humanitarianism. For the past 26-plus years, he has been serving as a Lieutenant for the Seminole County Fire Department and has the very distinct privilege to serve in numerous diverse roles within his career that include Professional Development/Training Officer, USAR, and other job related Special Operational duties. In addition, he serves as a Deputy for the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office where he holds an honorable position within the essential constituents of Law Enforcement - Special Operations.

In 2005, he met Reed Thorne in Sacramento, California where he was graciously baptized into “The Art of Clean Rigging”. This is where he intensely learned that rope-rescue work isn’t just a routine of repetitive skills being disseminated by commercially designed production books, but rather they’re conversely a true symphony of appreciative compositional art forms that require years of intricate study and mastery to achieve substantial performance.

Darrell became so intrigued with the RTR art-forms and its profound validity of teachings that he became totally immersed in his erudite pursuits by purposefully enrolling into more RTR curricula offerings. He has participated in the mastery of Personal Skills Rescue (2009), Team Skills Rescue (2007), Industrial Skills Rescue (2006), Advanced Skills Rescue (2005 & 2008), Artificial High Directional (2018), Rope Access (2010), and Structural Tower Rescue (2005). He still remains vigilant in his desirable “Art of Clean Rigging” mastery development that consistently impel his fervent knowledge for it all!

AHDW Salt Lake City Utah

AHDW Salt Lake City, Utah

 Hurricane Michael USAR Deployment Mexico Beach Florida

Hurricane Michael USAR Deployment Mexico Beach Florida

Wilderness SAR Operational MOBEX Econ Forest

Wilderness SAR Operational MOBEX Econ Forest

Zippin over Ole Rocky Top Tennessee

Zippin over Ole Rocky Top Tennessee

My wife Justina and daughters Sandy and Tanya

My wife Justina and daughters Sandy and Tanya

 MICHAEL DeCRAENE, Assistant Instructor
City of St. Clair Shores, Michigan USA
Occupation: Rescue Squad Officer for both Michigan Task Force 1 and Macomb County Technical Rescue Team

  • Michael DeCraene

Michael DeCraene 3Michael DeCraene is a Firefighter with the City of St. Clair Shores, a Rescue Squad Officer for both Michigan Task Force 1 and Macomb County Technical Rescue Team. Mike is certified as a fire instructor by the State of Michigan and the Michigan Urban Search And Rescue Training Foundation, holds his SPRAT ticket, and has conducted numerous trainings in multiple fire and rescue disciplines in various states and Canada.

Mike's interest in rope, knotcraft, and rigging began at a young age as an angler with his father & brother, who are both career firefighters, on Michigan's Great Lakes. Before entering the fire service with the City of Ann Arbor, Mike worked in the outdoor industry at a gear shop outfitting climbers, mountaineers, backpackers, kayakers, and the occasional arborist with tools and equipment. Initially assigned to a Rescue Company with AAFD, he diligently sought out instruction from those with knowledge, skills, and abilities in the technical rescue fields, always enjoying 'on rope' endeavors the most.

In 2013, then with SCSFD, Mike began to study with RTR under Chief Reed Thorne when he came to Michigan to teach an AHD workshop. This experience opened his eyes to advanced rigging practices and he began to make regular trips to Arizona for classes. It was in 2016 when RTR asked Mike to come on as an Assistant Instructor.

When asked about the RTR paradigm, Mike replied: "The courses are packed with volumes of information intended to take the rope practitioner to a whole new level of skill and understanding. Through advanced knotcraft, thorough critical analysis training, and loads of practical application, students leave the immersive experience being able to problem solve effectively and engineer systems as team leaders in environments they would have never thought possible."

Michael DeCraene 1

Michael DeCraene climbing ice wall.



Michael DeCraene 3

Michael DeCraene resuing another fire fighter.


Michael DeCraene 4

Michael DeCraene


 Del Miller, Assistant Instructor
Lucedale Mississippi USA
Occupation: Shift Foreman and Emergency Response Coordinator at Tate and Lyle Sucralose INC.

  • Del Miller
  • Del Miller Photos

Dell Miller 1Del Miller lives in Mississippi with his wife Mary, son Ryan and daughter Morgan. He is a shift foreman for an industrial plant near Mobile, Alabama. He also serves as the facility's Emergency Response Coordinator. He is a certified Industrial Emergency Response Specialist and has been a part of emergency response teams for industry since 1997, working as an industrial firefighter, Hazmat Technician, Emergency Medical Responder and Rope Rescue Technician. He holds National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications for Confined Space Rescue, Rope Rescue, Trench Rescue, Hazmat Technician, Hazmat Incident Command and Vehicle Extrication, but rescue has always been his real passion.

He has worked as an instructor for several rope rescue programs prior to working for RTR, most notably Texas A&M University's Fire school where he worked full time as a rescue instructor for 3 years. It was there where he reached out to Ropes that Rescue for Professional development training in 2010 on the Arizona Vortex and that has brought him back to RTR for class after class ever year since.

Del is a SPRAT certified rope access technician who's love for anything having to do with rope and rigging spills over from his career to his personal life. He is an outdoor enthusiast that loves hiking, biking, rock climbing, SCUBA diving, hammock camping, running and triathlons. He loves to teach and says, "there is always more to learn and more people to learn from!"

Del Miller 1

Rope to rope transfer during a Rope Access Skills Workshop in Jerome, AZ 


Del Miller 2

Mountain Rescue Workshop in the Dells with BORSTAR


Del Miller 3

Slot Canyon Rescue Workshop in Sedona, AZ


Del Miller 4

Personal Skills Rescue Workshop in the Dells with Chandler Fire Department 2014


Del Miller 5

Day Hike with Reed and the Pups!


Del Miller 6

Del with wife Mary and his two children Ryan and Morgan




Joel Graham, Assistant Instructor
South Australia
Occupation: Station Officer (Captain) with the South Australian Metro Fire Service (SAMFS)

  • Joel Graham
  • JOEL GRAHAM Photos

Joel GrahamJOEL GRAHAM on duty at SAMFS with daughter Savannah is a Station Officer (Captain) with the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service (SAMFS), South Australian USAR Task Force and SAMFS Vertical Rescue Instructor and SAMFS Technical Rescue Project Officer. Although an instructor in many Technical Rescue disciplines, his passion and specialization lies with Rope and Confined Space Rescue. These qualifications have allowed Joel to teach Fire Service personnel, Emergency Response Teams, Rope Rescue Technicians and Instructors throughout Australia and internationally.

Joel was indoctrinated into the Ropes That Rescue (RTR) culture by Australian Senior Instructor Len Batley and later mentored by RTR creator and Senior Instructor Reed Thorne. Since 2011 both individuals have educated and influenced Joel’s Rope Rescue career and fueled his desire to keep testing the boundaries and learn more about the ‘art of clean rigging’. Importantly, the skills that Joel has learnt from RTR equip him with the knowledge to efficiently rig for casualty extraction in time critical operational emergencies.

Joel is a devoted family man but when free time allows he is often found with rope in hand as his ‘down time’ is consumed with canyoneering and rock climbing. He has travelled throughout Australia climbing many remote multi-pitch traditional routes. His most memorable expedition included hiking for two days to trad climb the highest vertical cliff face in Australia, Tasmania’s Frenchman’s Cap.

Joel loves instructing RTR courses and feels privileged and honored to be part of this highly qualified and motivated team. He believes there is no better way to learn your craft than to teach it to others. Instructing for RTR provides him with an avenue to educate to the ‘highest’ common denominator and meet like-minded rescuers from varied backgrounds. Joel is excited about the next learning opportunity and enjoys sharing his knowledge with fellow rescuers.


JOEL GRAHAM Team Skills Rescue Workshop 2011

JOEL GRAHAM Team Skills Rescue Workshop 2011

JOEL GRAHAM on duty at SAMFS with daughter Savannah

JOEL GRAHAM on duty at SAMFS with daughter Savannah

JOEL GRAHAM Addicted to this type of crack Blue Mountains Australia

JOEL GRAHAM Addicted to this type of crack Blue Mountains Australia