General Rigging for Rescue:

  • Artificial High Directional Workshop
  • AHDW Key Points
  • Details
  • Photos


(See Current RTR Open Enrollment Schedule for when/where this program is offered)

Recognizing the need for advanced-level train-the-trainer instruction on the use of any constructed frame or "artificial high directional" (AHD), RTR is now offering the 7 day ARTIFICIAL HIGH DIRECTIONAL WORKSHOP suitable for fire emergency and rope access professionals. From Reed Thorne, the co-designer of the Arizona Vortex, this AHDW is meant to assist the rope rescue instructor with information relative to the use of manufactured high directionals. This workshop would be suitable for ANY manufactured or improvised high directional (not including wood frame) including the Larkin Frame, SMC Terradaptor, or Ferno Aracnipod (students requesting training on these AHD are required to bring these devices with them to their program). This program concentrates on constructed frames in general and is not intended to teach highlines, advanced pulley systems, or offsets (although some of these are touched upon). Physics, as it relates to high directionals, is covered in an extensive manual and several lectures. The AHDW is a hands-on workshop on the use and correct implementation of artificial high directionals (AHD) for industry and wilderness settings. The AHDW is also well suited for teaching rope access professionals the benefits of constructed frames in their work.

Here is a recent testimonial from a student in Fort Collins, CO:

The Fort Collins Fire Department had the great opportunity to assist with bringing Reed Thorne of Ropes That Rescue (RTR) out for a five day AHDW-5 class from November 16 through 20, 2020. The decision was made to bring RTR to Colorado because it was time for Colorado fire departments to discover the true and dynamic versatility of the Arizona Vortex which Reed Thorne helped design in Arizona, as well as discover the true ‘ART of Clean Rigging’ which RTR espouses.

The Ropes That Rescue Artificial High Directional Workshop is for those that have the desire to drive their AHD framing skills to the next level. Even during this class when you think you couldn’t go to higher levels of rigging, the curriculum takes you even farther.

As a spectator of the 2020 AHDW-5 class I got to sit back and witness the transformation of competency within the students. I watched how cultural norms shifted before my eyes. I watched a group of individuals become a team of rigging machines. I was so amazed with the level of competency that Reed Thorne was able to reach with 12 people in a 5 day period. 

This class was not all advanced rope technicians and I had the opportunity to ask question of the students. I asked a student named Joey what he learned. The student literally looked at me and said,
“humility”, and then went on to say that he was amazed in what he learned, and what he didn’t know about this perfect devise called the Arizona Vortex, as well as how excited he was to keep learning more about it. 

Joey was one of many student I got the opportunity to talk to after this class. The questions I would ask where, “what did you learn?”, “How did it change your ideas of fundamental rigging?”, “How much fun did you have?”. 

Each answer I got was a lot like Joeys, but one of the student also talked to the transformation of their rigging fundamentals. Aaron said: “I always assumed rigging was rigging until this class, the intricacies that I learned in this class from small changes in just the way you should place carabiners into the AZORP head to the big picture of seeing full transitional, paradoxical luffing systems, rigging pods, and being able to actually picture them as Reed Thorne is explaining them.” 

He continued “I suggest everyone wanting that next level to go to this class!! I want to go two or three more times.”

The only thing I can say as a person that is already bought into the curriculum is DO IT! This class is becoming a fundamental standard for our advanced rope technicians. We hope to continue the classes with greater and better venues in the future. Till then keep rigging, and a big thank you to Reed. You are a great resource to us all, and I hope to keep watching your symphony for many years to come. 

Tyler Giliotti 

December 17, 2020


  • Physics of high directionals
  • Extensive knotcraft for securing the Arizona Vortex in advanced setup positions
  • Use of high directionals to eliminate or reduce edge forces
  • Proper set up (A to Z) of any manufactured or improvised AHD
  • Anchoring the Arizona Vortex for static and dynamic events
  • At-the-edge, and back-from-the-edge AHD set up.
  • Guying the improvised and manufactured AHD's with rope/webbing
  • Working with the Arizona Vortex bipod (A frame or Sideways A frame); guying concerns etc.
  • Working with the Arizona Vortex monopod (gin pole); guying concerns etc.
  • Arizona Vortex Lazy leg SA frame set ups (optional)
  • Active (luffing over the edge) and passive guying of bipod Arizona Vortex
  • Rigging Arizona Vortex pods and A pods
  • Strengthening overly-extended legs on the Arizona Vortex
  • Use of the SkyHook® rope capstan winch with the Arizona Vortex
  • Similar and paradoxical motion when entering the hazard zone under any AHD at the edge
  • Arizona Vortex V frame and double A frame set ups
  • Cantillevered Arizona Vortex set ups
  • Tandem AHD's
  • Much, much more...
  • The AHDW teaches frames derived from the Rock Exotica Arizona Vortex® and AZORP® head accessory: (Note: some of these set ups require two or more AZV kits)

    • Tripods (equal sided)
    • Focused floating rigging pods and bipods (with Skyhook® capstan winch or not)
    • Easel A frames
    • Cantilevered easel A frames
    • SA (sideways or in-line) A frames
    • Cantilevered A frames and SA frames
    • Paradoxical luffing of A frame (active guying)
    • Double A frames
    • V frames
    • Tandem frames (combo AHD's)
    • Skyhook® capstan winch usage (as time permits)
      • Generator and 110 volt power head
      • Cordless 28v drill
      • Hand crank
7 Days - Some days are up to 10 to 12 hours in length
Classroom 30%, Practicals 70%

Prerequisites: None (Prior rope rigging experience strongly recommended)
Get: RTR Application
Go to: Registration Information
Find out tuition and when and where offered: See Schedule

Below: An Arizona Vortex SA frame used in Deception Gulch near historic Jerome, AZ in 2014

Below: An Arizona Vortex easel A frame (distant) and AZORP rigging pod (foreground) used in Deception Gulch near historic Jerome, AZ in 2014

Below: The abandoned Jerome Hotel in historic Jerome, AZ makes the perfect AHDW venue for constructing the Arizona Vortex "Doortex" with the "Sedona Penetrator". This photo is from 2014 Industrial Rescue Workshop which parallels the AHDW in some ways. 

Below: A Skyhook® capstan winch stand constructed from the Arizona Vortex at Granite Dells AHDW in 2014.

Below: Arizona Vortex program at Mt. Arapiles, Victoria, Australia in 2007. 

Below: 2014 "Watson Frame" (named after Watson Lake Dam) in the Granite Dells near Prescott, Arizona. Three Vortex kits were used in the making of this articulating frame. 

Below: Arizona Vortex program at Mt. Arapiles, Victoria, Australia in 2007.  

 Below: Arizona Vortex program at Wherepapa, New Zealand in 2005. 

Below: 2014 program for all-Japanese students at Prescott Fire Training center. 

Below: 2014 Double A frame set up at Tim's Toyota Arena in Prescott Valley, AZ

Below: 2014 Cantilevered A frame set up at Tim's Toyota Arena in Prescott Valley, AZ


  • Offset / Highline Rescue Workshop
  • OHRW Key Points
  • Details
  • Photos


(See Current RTR Open Enrollment Schedule for when/where this program is offered) (NOTE: The OHRW is NOT offered each year)

For years, emergency rope rescuers and rope access technicians have asked for a training program on temporary rigging employing elevated rope tracking elements. The OFFSET / HIGHLINE RESCUE WORKSHOP is just the type of program where these elevated options can be explored in detail. The program looks at subtle, yet fundamental differences between the use of high angle offsets and drooping and/or reeving highlines for canyon/industrial locations where abundant high anchors are plentiful. Therefore, this is NOT a program that explores highly tensioned spanning elements (like the Kootenay Highline System) where high or full strength connections are mandated at either end, but rather only a look at other low tension highlines that can be used over gaps with higher anchorages. The OHRW is not an extensive highline workshop like the Advanced Skills Rescue Workshop (that program focuses on 100% highlines and the Kootenay Highline System).

The course begins with simple and easy to understand lessons on physics relative to ropes under tension used above the ground and how to keep spanning element anchoring forces low. The program moves between the subtle, yet substantial, differences between minor and major offsets and then moves into the distinctions between offsets and highlines. For rope access technicians, this course gives the student the groundwork for elevated transporting systems for men and/or materials used in work. The OHRW also has lectures on extensive pulley systems which are used to provide tension for these aerial rope highways. More than just a "highline" seminar, the OHRW provides a multiplicity of lower tension options for the rope rescue and rope access technician without the excessive training and discipline that a strict adherence to the Kootenay Highline System. Additionally, the program is taught in an environment conducive to this kind of discipline. This is NOT a rescue course only. While the techniques can be applied to rescue work and often are, these methods may be used in any rope access endeavor. The real difference is that when human loads are applied, secondary safety lines must be employed at all times throughout the process of movement. 

  • This program deals with a comparison between offsets and the use of low tension highlines for spaning canyons or industrial gaps
  • Physics of rope rigging with emphasis on tension forces relative to tracking elements
  • Acute differences between offsets and highlines (physics)
  • Ideal for rope access technicians (those that work at elevation)
  • Low tesnion highlines with higher side to side anchorages
  • Anchor building - system anchors
  • Knotcraft - basic through advanced
  • Introduction to pulley systems (simple through complex)
  • Moderate use of simpel to intermeidate frames (Arizona Vortex)
  • Critical analysis of tracking elements-critical point test
  • Major high angle offsetting:
    • Skating tracking lines (belayed and self belayed)
    • Deflection liness (belayed and self belayed)
    • Two rope pendulum offsets (belayed from both sides)
  • Limited highlines (only those with high anchorages and more than 15% sag) (NOTE: This is NOT a full highline program)
    • Low tension reeving highlines (carriage belayed from both sides -reeve line belay options)
    • Low tension drooping highlines (belayed from both sides)
7 Days - Some days are up to 10 to 12 hours in length
12 Students
Moderately Difficult
Classroom 25%, Practicals 75%

Prerequisites: None. (Prior rope rigging experience strongly recommended)

Get: RTR Application
Go to: Registration Information
Find out tuition and when and where offered: See Schedule

OFFSET OR HIGHLINE PERTINENT PHOTO: 2014 tracking line offset at Arizona's Watson Dam in the Granite Dells
OFFSET OR HIGHLINE PERTINENT PHOTO: 2014 skate block offset during Maryland training at Dickerson Generating Station in Montgomery County with Mike Green, lead instructor for RTR
OFFSET OR HIGHLINE PERTINENT PHOTO: 2014 two rope offset through a cantilevered A frame used at Tim's Toyota Arena in Prescott Valley, AZ 
OFFSET OR HIGHLINE PERTINENT PHOTO: A two rope offset in front of Tumalo Falls near Bend, Oregon
OFFSET OR HIGHLINE PERTINENT PHOTO: Massive 200 meter tracking line offset onto roof of New Zealand Auckland Mall (far below) in 2005
OFFSET OR HIGHLINE PERTINENT PHOTO: 2014 Kootenay Highline over Deception Gulch, near historic Jerome, AZ 
OFFSET OR HIGHLINE PERTINENT PHOTO: 2013 Skate block offset used at Mohonk Preserve in "Gunks" climbing area  
OFFSET OR HIGHLINE PERTINENT PHOTO: 2011 skate block offset used at Sedona Fire District comunication towers
OFFSET OR HIGHLINE PERTINENT PHOTO: 2014 Kootenay Highline with Arizona Vortex SA frame set up over Deception Gulch, near historic Jerome, AZ 


  • Personal Skills Rescue Workshop
  • PSRW Key Points
  • Details
  • Photos


(See Current RTR Open Enrollment Schedule for when/where this program is offered)

The Personal Skills Rescue Workshop is considered by many past students as our most enjoyable, interactive and physically demanding. There is no shortage of "on-rope" time at this workshop! The PSRW, and the Team Skills Rescue Workshop are the courses which fulfill the 90% solution on most rope rescues within industry and wilderness locations. It is designed for the serious rope rescue practitioner wishing to improve their personal rigging skill and capability. This workshop is sometimes mistakenly perceived as a beginning program due to the personal nature of many of the evolutions. In fact, it is for those that never seem to get enough on rope experience or time over the edge. The PSRW begins with valuable, yet simple definitions for belays, self belays, conditional belays and conditional self belays and how these differ in their engineering. It goes into important orientation on personally carried gear such as ascenders and descenders, self belay devices, Purcell prusiks, the all valuable AZTEK kit and other items essential to safety in the vertical realm and then moves into practical and fun-filled days where multiple one-on-one rope stations keep the practitioner busy throughout the day.

Students in the PSRW practice their skills and learn to work together as a team in successful retrieval of this patient in a non-threatening environment. These are found in the Seven Minimalist Rescue Archetypes (7MRA) that lay a groundwork for understanding how solo versus semi-solo rescues vary in their risk to the rescuer. The PSRW goes well into often overlooked personal skills that are taken for granted on most rescue teams. 

There is also considerable time spent on rope learning to climb/descend rope by multiple methods (even improvised if you drop your friction appliance). Passing knots, deviations, rebelays, rope to rope transfers, aid climbing and problem solving are all part of the PSRW. Proficiency through repetition to mastery are encouraged. There is a very very strong emphasis on advanced knotcraft in this workshop! 

  • Ideal for rope access technicians (those that work at elevation)
  • Strong emphasis on personal skills
  • Harness organization for working in vertical realm
  • Anchor building using rock pro (active and passive)
  • Anchor building using piton family (if available)
  • Backtying and oppositon (front ties) and general rigging for anchoring
  • Critical analysis of multi-point anchoring systems (understanding physics)
  • Rope coiling methods
  • Rope management to eliminate snarls and frustration
  • Improvisation and minimalism "What do you do if the gadget does not show up?"
  • Knotcraft to the extreme (There is a strong emphasis on knot skills)
  • Introduction to pulley systems (partial lacture)
  • Multiple methods of descending on rope (including improvised)
  • Multiple methods of ascending on handled ascenders
  • Passing knots onon ascent and descent
  • Rope-to-rope transfers on ascent and descent
  • Passing re-belays on ascent and descent
  • Passing standard deviations against wall on ascent and descent
  • Passing "flying" deviations (no wall) on ascent and descent
  • Horizontal aid climbing (if avaialble)
  • True belays and self belays
  • Self rescue techniques / Buddy rescue techniques
  • AZTEK kit orientation for personal and team operations:
    • First 8 uses of AZTEK
    • Single and double part hasty rappels (5 & 6)
    • Belays and self belays (3 & 4)
    • Dynamic fixed and traveling brakes
    • Ascending with AZTEK in 2 parts (7)
    • Personal travel restrict (1 & 2)
    • Set of fours pulley system (8)
  • Solo rescue: Complete Seven Minimalist Rescue Archetypes (7MRA)
    • Solo rescuer pick off ("gecko" and hanging)
    • Semi-solo rescuer pick offs ("gecko" and hanging)
  • Solo one-on-one rescues:
    • Pitch head rescue (breaking into lines on top with AZTEK and bringing casualty up from bottom)
    • Pitch toe rescue (descending to bottom and attaching to casualty with AZTEK and ascending with them to top)
    • Counter balance rescue (if time permists)(Using your own weight to advance someone up a cliff or drop)
  • Lead climbing (optional)
  • Down climbing techniques
  • Sound anchoring principles: simple through advanced system anchors
  • Rigging plates and pods using AZ Vortex, focused floating anchors made "bombproof" for over edge rope work
  • Manual and auto stop friction appliances
  • Slack backups vs tensioned backties
  • Much more....
7 Days - Some days are up to 10 to 12 hours in length
12 Students
Extremely Difficult
Classroom 25%, Practicals 75%

Prerequisites: None. You must be in excellent physical condition to participate in this workshop. Climbing background strongly encouraged.
Get: RTR Application
Go to: Registration Information
Find out tuition and when and where offered: See Schedule

Above, a rope-to-rope transfer being practiced by a student high above the ground. The PSRW is ideal for the rope access worker or technician.
Left, students practice the Seven Minimalist Rescue Archetypes (7MRA) which is a staple of the PSRW.

Speaking to a another RTR student—
"Like you, I was humbled that first day of the course. I had come in thinking I knew plenty of cool stuff. The next day I began to get a little of the (RTR) "lingo" going, and started to understand the diagrams, etc. By the end of the 7 days, I had expanded my rescue paradigm more than the complete decade preceding it. That experience was truly a watershed event in my rescue career. And I already knew more than anyone I worked with or for before I went to the class. So that speaks to Reed and his excellent program, but you already knew that.

Gary Haynes
Arches National Park, Utah
Chief Rang


  • Team Skills Rescue Workshop
  • TSRW Key Points
  • Details
  • Photos


(See Current RTR Open Enrollment Schedule for when/where this program is offered)

The Team Skills Rescue Workshop is ideal for industrial and wilderness rescue teams and is designed to review some practices from the PSRW, yet carry on into more demanding rescue practices and team-building skills. This, and the PSRW, are the seminars which fulfill the "90% solution" on most rope rescues within industry and wilderness locations. Lectures on intermediate physics and how it relates to rope rigging are common throughout the duration of this seminar. Emphasis is places on "why" we do something, rather than "how". Students, as a team unit, learn how to build seemingly complex arrangements for reaching, treating and extricating a patient from the vertical high angle environment whether in industrial locations or in the wilderness. All the while, emphasis is placed on building everything from the basic materials most teams will have along: rope, carabiners, pulleys, accessory cord, webbing and know how. Specialized equipment, while certainly handy and interesting, is discouraged in this rigging-intensive course. Some rescuers also feel that an intermediate-level program should include highlines. The TSRW includes an extensive lecture and practical section on alternatives to highlines in the form of "offsets". Ropes That Rescue has become known for its projection of these offsets as an alternative to training intensive highlines in the past 20 years. Offsets employ standard high angle techniques that most rescuers already know and so are more forgiving in the training curve than more elaborate systems.

The TSRW is not by any means a beginning rope rescue program. It is a serious venture and complete immersion into rescue systems that can sometimes be overwhelming to some less experienced practitioners.

  • Safety factors / Safety margins
  • Strong emphasis on team-oriented skills
  • Knotcraft
  • Intermediate pulley systems (simple through complex)
  • Physics of rope rescue
  • Two tensioned rope systems analysis
  • Artificial high directions:
    • Gin pole monopods
    • A frames
    • Sideways A frames
    • Easel A frames
  • Directionals and anchor angle force calculations
  • Batwing compound pulley systems-AZ Progression
  • Complete AZTEK kit orientation for team operations:
    • Single and double part hasty rappels
    • Belays and self belays
    • Dynamic fixed brakes
    • Dynamic directionals
    • Personal travel restrict and fall protection
  • Mid face attendant-based and team-based litter scoops
  • Team-based pick offs
  • Belays, self belays, conditional belays and conditional self belays
  • Sound anchoring principles: intermediate through advanced system anchors
  • Focused and focused-floating anchors using opposition anchors
  • Patient tie in techniques
  • Hot and cold changeovers
  • Non-highline solutions to rescue scenarios
  • Offsets for the high angle evacuation:
    • Tag and guiding line offsets
    • Deflected offsets
    • Tracking line offsets
    • Skate block offsets
    • Two rope offsets
  • Much more....
7 Days - Some days are up to 10 to 12 hours in length
12 Students (or more with second RTR instructor)
Moderate to Difficult
Classroom 30%, Practicals 70%

Prerequisites: None (Prior rope rigging experience strongly recommended)
Get: RTR Application
Go to: Registration Information
Find out tuition and when and where offered: See Schedule

(Above) Students erect a high directional at the Vertical Heartland in a southern illinois TSRW. (Right) Students learn the ropes at Mt. Arapiles, Victoria in Australia during RTR program.


"The Team Skills Rescue Workshop was enjoyably challenging. Too often, we teach our teams how to do something without teaching them why we do it a particular way. Reed and Pat spent a lot of time explaining the why behind the how. Without understanding the physics behind a procedure, most teams are unable to adapt their rigging to non-textbook rescue scenarios. If we were exposed to procedures in the seminar that differed from our SOPs, the instructors supported the RTR procedures with exceptionally sound mathematical and practical justification. Comparative analysis of various systems was enlightening.
RTR's abilities to tailor the training to a particular group was much appreciated. A team charged with backcountry rescue needs different training, equipment, procedures, etc., than an industrial rescue team. Reed seemed to have a genuine desire to show us ways we could decrease the amount of weight and bulk carried into the field without compromising system safety. Again, all his suggestions were supported with sound mathematical and practical justification. As a result, our team will be altering (and improving) some of it's rigging procedures."

Frank Mendonca
UTAH Grand County SAR


  • Advanced Skills Rescue Workshop
  • ASRW Key Points
  • Details
  • Photos


(See Current RTR Open Enrollment Schedule for when/where this program is offered) (NOTE: The ASRW is NOT offered each year)

There are prerequisites for enrolling in this workshop. It is NOT entry-level. The Advanced Skills Rescue Workshop is held only one time during any given year (sometimes skipping a year) and is a seven day workshop dealing with the remaining "10% Solution". This rigorous course "for wizards" builds upon some aspects of the TSRW yet goes well beyond these both in intensity of rigging, and application of physical principles. The workshop begins on day one with an impromptu field exercise to assess existing skill level within the student "team". Emphasis is placed on low tech solutions to rescue scenarios before heading into technical solutions in the form of highlines. The workshop then explores all the available possibilities for setting up a horizontal, sloping or steep highline for removing, transporting or inserting rescuers or a patient. The ASRW is different from the Offset/Highline Rescue Workshop in that it is not 'entry level' (having no prerequisites) as highlines are greater than 150 degrees (much less sag) and following the Kootenay Highline System originally taught by Arnör Larson of the British Columbia Council of Technical Rescue (BCCTR). These are high tension highlines with very little sag and are ideal for rivers and places where high river bank anchors are not readily available. The ASRW also go into the many forms of reeving highlines including the English and Norwegian varieties and the discreet, subtle differences in the two. Single and double carriage litter rigging is covered along with passing both through an intermediary mid station on a long highline (called a "litter bypass"). Rule of Thumb techniques for determining the pre-tension on a single, twin or quadruple trackline highline are covered in detail if a strain gauge is not available. Use of a strain gauge (like the Rock Exotica Enforcer) is advantageous for keeping the highline within safety margins, especially when post-tensioning with a mass in the middle of the highline. Pilot line, messenger line and all forms of multiple delivery systems are explored in this workshop. 

This is by no means an easy workshop. and it is certainly not for everyone. It has lots of carrying, walking or hiking, pulling and general work which must be accomplished by the students and so expect lots of physical exertion in carrying the many pilot lines, messenger lines and 1/2" diameter ropes and specialized, normally very heavy, hardware to the highline site. The ASRW is very "venue" dependent as to how long the highlines will be during any particular workshop. There may be, and often is, huge variation between wilderness locations and industrial ones. 

In the end, there is really nothing like riding on a long highline. Even a short one by comparison. It can be quite thrilling to do so and students seem to enjoy the final reward that after all the hard work, they actually get to enjoy the technology in action. 

Prerequisties: You must have succesffully completed one of the following RTR wotkshops in order to enroll in the ASRW. Team Skills Rescue Workshop, Offset-Highline Rescue Workshop, Industrial Rescue Workshop, Artificial High Directional Workshop. Or, you must gain special acceptance (pernmission) from the ASRW Instructor. 

  • Complete highlines:
    • Standard transportation-type highlines
    • Drooping highlines
    • Swiftwater highlines
    • Reeving highlines (for varying trackline angles)
    • Extreme highlines over 600'
  • Highline logistics and tear down
  • Advanced pulley systems
  • Various pilot and messenger delivery systems:
  • Advanced anchoring for highlines
  • High strength tie offs using mechanical and natural means
  • Standard and advanced artificial high directionals:
    • V frames
    • Double A frames
    • Over the edge AHD's
  • Mid span litter package bypasses on transecting highline obstructions for single and double carriage yokes
  • Hot loading (with patient in litter) double carriage litters on steep angle highlines
  • Single, twin and quad trackline highlines
  • Single and double yoke carriages
  • Passing bends on the taglines
  • Tagline prusik bypasses
  • Tagline hanger variations
  • Ideal and practical fall factors
  • Sedona BC Drop Test data (1989: Larson, Thorne, Dill)
  • Extreme litter lowers (>300')
  • Much more...
7 Days - Some days are up to 10 to 12 hours in length
12 Students
Classroom 20%, Practicals 80%

Prerequisites: TSRW, IRW, OHRW or MRW (or special permission from the instructor)
Note: This program not always offered in each calendar year. Get: RTR Application
Go to: Registration Information
Find out tuition and when and where offered: See Schedule

ASRW highline training with Rancho Cucamonga (Calif) Fire Dept using a 600' English

Reeve system between generator towers at the Etiwanda Generating Station.

The November 2007 highline between Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte in Sedona, AZ