• Mountain Rescue Workshop
  • MRW Key Points
  • Details
  • Photos


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

The Mountain Rescue Workshop is a minimalist approach to mountain rescue procedures and teaches the access, stabilization and extrication of patients involved in mid-face free or aid climbing accidents, especially those where the accident site is only accessed from below. There is a heavy emphasis on advanced knotcraft (several boutique bowlines) in this workshop. The student will learn how to design and build system anchors from bolts, pitons and active and passive rock climbing camming devices. Strong emphasis is also placed on wilderness improvised techniques where specialized or heavier equipment has no place. Use of whipped and frapped wood frames as high directionals is encouraged, but also the use of the Rock Exotica Arizona Vortex (developed in Sedona, AZ by RTR) is also a main focus of this workshop.  The Mountain Rescue and Canyon Rescue Workshop along with the Team Skills Rescue Workshop are the two workshops which fulfill the 90% solution on most rope rescues in wilderness locations. This workshop is designed for the serious mountain environment rope rescue practitioner wishing to improve their personal and team rigging skill. The MRW goes well into often overlooked personal top down skills involving solo (one rescuer) and semi-solo (two rescuer) victim evacuations employing the rescuer's personal AZTEK kit. Also, the workshop explores the use of improvised low edge techniques for very difficult litter evolutions as well as artificial high directionals in the remote wilderness location. Gin poles, A frames and sideways (SA) frames are common. The crux of the MRW is where students free climb (or ascend) using the bight-carry technique to position a high directional above the victim on a wall. In 2012's MRW, students climbed the famous "Queen Victoria Spire" (5:8) on the Mitten Ridge in Sedona to pull off this difficult task In this way, a heavy and cumbersome rescue adjunct (litter, etc.) can be brought to the victim high on a wall, under them, and then lowered downward (techniques used in tower rescues). Students also learn the classic differences belays, conditional belays and conditional self belays. In the superb rock of the Granite Dells of Prescott, the MRW involves more personal movement on stone and personal rigging skill. Lots of climbing and lots of fun!

From Kenneth Liadlaw:

My original introduction to rope rescue came through the challenges of cave exploration in vertical pits.  Very quickly one realizes a need to learn some skills to possibly help yourself and your teammates.  More often than not, you start a learning process from someone who only knows slightly more than you do.  This may not be the best plan.  But finding the best place to learn rope rescue skills can be daunting.

I began taking rope rescue classes and quickly discovered that the better instructors all had experience with Arnor Larson in British Columbia.  I too turned to Arnor Larson for information.  He has retired but his basic concepts live on with a cadre of the next generation.  Reed Thorne had trained with Arnor and combined his ideas with the practical experiences of erecting high-tension electric power transmission lines across the Southwest United States.

One of classes that Reed Thorne teaches is called the Mountain Rescue Workshop.  This workshop allows one to practice all the necessary skills to perform an efficient rope rescue, with a minimum amount of equipment, and in very, challenging terrain.  It focuses on a lot of knot craft and traditional techniques.

I have attended several RTR Mountain Rescue Workshops over the years.  Technical rope rescue is a very perishable skill and rarely does one get challenged in their daily lives to properly maintain the skills. 

When one is at their home area, they probably do not have someone there to critique their performance.  This workshop provides that opportunity, not only from the instructor, but also from some very highly skilled students who may be attending.

If your role at home involves passing your knowledge and skills to others, you will also get good ideas on ways to present the material.

I now have quite a bit of experience with rope rescue training programs over the past fifty years from a wide range of vendors.  Reed Thorne’s Mountain Rescue Workshop experience for seven days is the best place to be challenged in mastering the basic techniques of remote access mountain rescue rope skills. 


  • Mountain rescue basics
  • Bottom up versus top down rescue techniques
  • Introduction to pulley systems
  • Physics for mountain rescue
  • Use of the AZTEK kit in mountain environs
  • Solo rescuer pick off
  • Semi-solo rescuer pick offs ("gecko" and hanging) using tools from harness
  • Mid face litter scoops
  • Lead climbing (optional) using bight carry technique for extreme bottom up rescues
  • Belays, self belays, conditional belays and conditional self belays
  • Improvisation and a 'minimalist' approach to mountain rescue
  • Patient assessment & packaging in mountain environment
  • Rappelling techniques with improvisation in mind
  • Sound anchoring principles with sketchy rock climbing protection
  • Slack backups vs tensioned backties
  • Drilled pitons in various rock types
  • Active and passive rock climbing protection placement
  • Split coil carries; low angle carries
  • Wood frame artificial high directionals
  • Cocoon stretchers from climbing rope only
  • Caterpillar passes and role rotation during litter carries
  • Much more....
7 Days - Some days are up to 10 to 12 hours in length & night ops are possible
12 Students
Moderately Difficult to Difficult
Classroom 30%, Practicals 70%

Prerequisites: Some rescue or climbing experience recommended

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

Above, students practice mid face, bottom up rescue of hanging victim in MRW-R 2000 under the watchful eye of RTR instructor (left). Top anchored safety lines are used throughout until students master the techniques


  • Canyon Rescue Workshop
  • CRW key points
  • Details
  • Photos


(Contact us at info@ropesthatrescue.com for details and next offering. You may see Current RTR Open Enrollment Schedule for when/where this program is offered)

BY INVITATION ONLY. NO TUITION REQUIRED. We are pleased to offer a rescue rigging program in southern Utah's beautiful canyonlands and slot canyons. The Canyon Rescue Workshop is specifically designed for the Southwest's sedimentary canyon plateaus and slot canyons (Arizona/Utah/Nevada/Colorado). This intensive program focuses on both personal and team-oriented skills. The Canyon Rescue Workshop is a hands-on workshop stressing a minimalist approach to canyonland rescue procedures and teaches the access, stabilization and extrication of patients involved in canyoneering and mid-face free climbing accidents. Students will design and build system anchors from bolts, pitons, sand picket systems and active and passive rock climbing camming devices. Strong emphasis is also placed on wilderness improvised techniques where specialized or heavier equipment has limited application. The CRW is designed for the serious search and rescue rope practitioner or park ranger wishing to improve their personal and team rigging skill and is designed for rescuers and teams with every type of possible terrain (including slot canyons common to the Southwestern US) from which a potential victim must be retrieved. Lectures on relative rescue subjects or physics are common throughout the duration of this workshop. Students, as a team unit, learn how to build seemingly complex arrangements for reaching, treating and extricating a patient from the extremely confined canyon environment. Many of these solutions involve high angle offsets and highlines however all do not. 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. Also extensive use of the Arizona Vortex artificial high directional during this program. 

Participants must be in good physical condition. Wet suits/dry suits required for participants wanting to venture into wet canyon environments during the CRW. All canyoneering practices will be on minimum two points of contact (main and a safety) during this program. 

NOTE:  Wilderness camping or car camping is available at our slot canyon venue. Porta-potty and full kitchen available with stoves and fresh water but arrangements must be made in advance of the class. This will involve a small cost if you participate which will be shared by the participants.  Those wilderness camping must bring tent or other shelter. Many of the mountainous locations in the canyonlands where we hold our practical sessions are far removed from the trail head and often involve a rigorous hike at elevations exceeding 5,000 feet. Some hikes are more than a mile in length and on cross country routes.

Camping REQUIRED for participation in this ALL VOLUNTEER PROGRAM.

  • Slot canyon rescue (confined space problems)
  • Knotcraft
  • Sandstone anchoring
  • Improvised anchoring
  • Comparison between high angle offsets and highlines
  • High angle offsets for canyon rescue:
    • Tag lines
    • Guiding lines
    • Tracking lines
    • Skate blocks
    • Deflected
    • Two rope (pendulum)
  • Complete rescue highlines for canyon rescue:
    • Standard transportation-type highlines
    • Drooping highlines
    • Reeving highlines (for varying trackline angles)
  • Highline/offset logistics and teardown
  • Simple, Compound and complex pulley systems
  • Various pilot and messenger delivery systems
  • Methods of locating the canyon access team and casualty within an incised slot canyon
  • Standard and advanced artificial high directionals:
  • Hot loading (with patient in litter) double carriage litters on steep angle highlines
  • Single, twin and quad trackline highlines (as time permits)
  • Much more..
7 Days - Invitation ONLY. The CRW is all volunteer and there are no fees for this program.
Upto 12 Students
10 to 12 hours per day
Classroom 30%, Practicals 70%
Significant lecture time during each evening
Camping is required for minimum 3 days

 Prerequisites: Prior rope and canyoneering experience REQUIRED

Please submit name, contact information and canyoneering experience resumé to info@ropesthatrescue.com 

Find out when and where CRW is offered: See Schedule 

Above, CRW participants perform multiple rope evolutions using "offsets" learned from earlier programs with RTR before moving into advanced highlines

An English Reeve highline being used to extricate a rescue package from the depths of a 150 ft deep narrow slot canyon in the Antelope Wash in Arizona


"Knowledge is  light in the rucksack and not easily left at home"

Arnor Larson

NOTE:Additional specialized team equipment will be required from each participant (line guns, etc.)