General Rigging for Rescue:

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

Recognizing the need for advanced-level train-the-trainer instruction on the use of any "artificial high directional" (AHD), RTR has developed the 7 day ARTIFICIAL HIGH DIRECTIONAL WORKSHOP suitable for fire emergency and rope access professionals. From Reed Thorne, the 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).

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 AHD's in their work.

Some specialized personal equipment needed to participate in this program (see photos)

  • Use of high directionals to eliminate or reduce edge forces
  • Extensive slide shows with valuable lessons on physics
  • Proper set up (A to Z) of any manufactured or improvised AHD
  • Anchoring the AZV 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 AZV bipod (A frame or Sideways A frame); guying concerns etc.
  • Working with the AZV monopod (gin pole); guying concerns etc.
  • Lazy leg SA frame set ups (optional)
  • Active (luffing over the edge) and passive guying of bipod AHD's
  • Strengthening over-long legs on the AHD
  • Use of the SkyHook® rope capstan winch with the AHD
  • Similar and paradoxical motion when entering the hazard zone under any AHD at the edge
  • V frame and double A frame set ups
  • Tandem AHD's
  • Much, much more...
12 Students
Classroom 30%, Practicals 70%


Prerequisites: None
Get: RTR Application
Go to: Registration Information
Find out tuition and when offered: See Schedule

AZ Vortex v.2.0

The new Arizona Vortex Multipod v.2.0 from Rock Exotica Inc being used on Bell Rock Station of 2,115' highline in Nov. 2007. Photo by John Burcham Photography, Flagstaff, AZ. See pics HERE

The Arizona Vortex Multipod v2.0 used as an easel A frame


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

For years, rope access technicians and emergency rope rescuers have asked for a training program on temporary rigging employing elevated rope tracking elements. In 2009 for the first time, RTR has put together just such a program. The OFFSET / HIGHLINE RESCUE WORKSHOP is just the type of program where these elevated options can be explored in the desert canyons of Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona. The course begins with simple and easy to understand lessons on physics relative to ropes under tension used above the ground. 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. Compounding forces on anchors and ensuring the means of not degrading the main tracking element are explored. Calculations are addressed concerning loading and how and when to bundle tracking elements to maintain an adequate safety margin.

The OHIW 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 OHIW provides a multiplicity of options for the rope rescue and rope access technician. 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.

  • Ideal for rope access technicians (those that work at elevation)
  • Strong emphasis on team skills
  • Anchor building - system anchors
  • Knotcraft and anti-knotcraft (elimination of knot degradation)
  • Introduction to pulley systems (simple through complex)
  • Physics of rope rigging with emphasis on tension forces relative to tracking elements
  • Acute differences between offsets and highlines (physics)
  • Critical analysis of tracking elements-critical point test
  • Complete high angle offsetting
    • Simple tag lines
    • Guiding lines
    • Tracking lines
    • Skating tracking lines
    • Deflections
    • Two rope pendulums
  • Limited highlines
    • Steep highlines
    • Sloping highlines
    • Horizontal highlines
    • Transportation style highlines
    • Drooping highlines
7 Days
12 Students
Moderately Difficult
Classroom 25%, Practicals 75%


Prerequisites: Some rope or rescue experience recommended
Get: RTR Application
Go to: Registration Information
Find out tuition and when offered: See Schedule


Above, technicians at Grand Coulee Dam use a deflection style offset to align a rescue package down to the lover levels of power house #3. Left, linemen from Baltimore Gas and Electric company use a tracking element to position workers on a transmission tower. All photos taken during RTR workshops

Above, rope rescue technicians using a tracking line offset at the 300 meter level of the Auckland Sky Tower in New Zealand in RTR course in 2005. You can see the bottom team on the roof of the building below.


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

The Personal Skills Rescue Workshop is considered by many past students as our most enjoyable and interactive. There is no shortage of on rope fun at this seminar! 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. This seminar 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 lessons on physics, safety in the vertical realm and then moves into practical and fun-filled days where multiple rope stations keep the practitioner busy throughout the day. The final day of the seminar involves the discovery, medical treatment, packaging and extrication of a patient planted in a secret location in the wilderness. 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. The PSRW goes well into often overlooked personal skills that are taken for granted on most rescue teams. Students also learn the classic differences (in risk) associated with belays, self belays, conditional belays and conditional self belays.

Warning: There is a very very strong emphasis on knotcraft in this seminar! Students are tested throughout the program for proficiency and the ability to tie under pressure. All in fun, of course!

  • Ideal for rope access technicians (those that work at elevation)
  • Strong emphasis on personal skills
  • Rope coiling methods
  • Rope management
  • 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
  • Beginning litter work in high angle evacuations (practice at "attending")
  • Multiple methods of descending on rope (including improvised)
  • Multiple methods of ascending on handled ascenders
  • Rope-to-rope transfers
  • Rope problems needing strong personal skill base
  • True belays/self belays/conditional belays and conditional self belays
  • Self rescue techniques / Buddy rescue techniques
  • Complete AZTEK kit orientation for personal and team operations:
    • Single and double part hasty rappels
    • Belays and self belays
    • Dynamic fixed and traveling brakes
    • Dynamic directionals
    • Personal travel restrict and fall protection
  • Complete Seven Minimalist Rescue Archetypes
    • Solo rescuer pick off ("gecko" and hanging)
    • Semi-solo rescuer pick offs ("gecko" and hanging)
  • Lead climbing (optional) and down climbing techniques
  • Sound anchoring principles: simple through advanced system anchors
  • Slack backups vs tensioned backties
  • Much more....
7 Days
12 Students
Moderately Difficult
Classroom 25%, Practicals 75%


Prerequisites: Some rescue or climbing experience recommended.
Get: RTR Application
Go to: Registration Information
Find out tuition and when 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

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 it's projection of these offsets as an alternative to training intensive highlines in the past 10 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
12 Students
Classroom 30%, Practicals 70%


Prerequisites: Some rescue or climbing experience recommended
Get: RTR Application
Go to: Registration Information
Find out tuition and when 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

The Advanced Skills Rescue Workshop is held only one time during any given year and is a seven day seminar dealing with the remaining "10% Solution". This rigorous course "for wizards" applies some aspects of the TSRW yet goes well beyond these both in intensity of rigging, and application of physical principles. The course begins abruptly with an impromptu field exercise to assess existing skill level within the "team". Emphasis is placed on low tech solutions to rescue scenarios before heading into technical solutions in the form of highlines. The seminar 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 main event of the eight day ASRW seminar is an extreme highline of over 600' station-to-station high above the valley floor treetops. The ASRW also explores all aspects of advanced rigging including fall factors (ideal and practical), and reviews the belay drop test data more acutely than previous courses. The ASRW is rigging intensive!

  • 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
12 Students
Classroom 20%, Practicals 80%

Prerequisites: TSRW, IRW, OHRW or MRW
Note: This program not always offered in each calendar year. Get: RTR Application
Go to: Registration Information
Find out tuition and when 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