How to Use The Arizona Vortex Guidebook

Written By: Lance Piatt

Photos © Reed Thorne

The ARIZONA VORTEX (or AZV) is so named from its development in the rugged highlands of Northern Arizona’s Oak Creek Canyon through the rigging and rescue school, Rope That Rescue. Reed Thorne, the school’s senior instructor developed the current Version 2 AZV with the help of Rock Thompson at Rock Exotica after initial research and development had taken place years before. The AZV was created from years of trial and error and of having worked with crude but functional lashed wood frames at RTR.

The very first heavy steel prototype of an “easel-style A-frame” was fabricated from the plate and square tubing by a Phelps Dodge Morenci (Now Freeport MacMoran) copper mine fabrication shop from crude plans scribbled out by Thorne on a Morenci, AZ pizza restaurant table napkin during a workshop for the miners in the mid-’90s. Although very heavy and cumbersome, it provided the testbed to prove and refine the design. The next step in the evolution was the construction of an aluminum model based on more formal plans drawn by Thorne. This lightweight prototype was tested in four of the 7-day RTR rigging seminars before a third prototype was made. This prototype refined the adjusting system of the legs and introduced the “Raptor” foot design. Three years of use in rope rescue workshops and rope access worldwide by RTR, Thorne developed further refinements of the concept with the help and exquisite craftsmanship of Rock Thompson. Incorporating input from other users, the next evolution of the Arizona Vortex began to take shape. The first testing of the new Version 2 AZV was done by Reed at Mt. Arapiles, Victoria (Australia) during Dec. 2003 and in Sydney, Australia during an Industrial Rescue Workshop in March 2004.

RTR is a comprehensive rope rigging school and a rope access consulting firm with training programs throughout the United States along with other open programs in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, and the UK. The firm teaches roped techniques to emergency rescue teams in industry, mines, wilderness search & rescue, emergency medical, and fire services.

Reed Thorne comes from a background of mountaineering and climbing along with working in the power delivery industry in the early 1970s. Some of America’s largest power utilities use Reed to train their linemen rope access on electrical transmission structures. Reed is also a former evaluator for The Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians in the US. He, along with his wife, Jayne, had accomplished many large rope access jobs including Hoover Dam (USBR) and The New Navajo Bridge construction with Arizona DOT.

To many within the rope access discipline and emergency response agencies (fire & EMS) the understanding of how the Vortex can be used to alleviate edge-induced forces can be elusive, and with more complicated frames relying on buying systems or other advanced setups, even daunting. RTR offers basic to advanced-level train-the-trainer instruction on the use of the AZV in workshops all over the world. These programs are for entry-level technicians interested in acquiring useable, easy to understand, concepts on how to safely erect tripods, bipods, and monopods in difficult terrain and industrial locations. The AZV is ideally used to perform rescues, position workers, lower and raise equipment or materials, and a multitude of other tasks within the vertical realm. With forces being largely invisible to many using these devices in the field, the program comes at a time when unexpected and catastrophic frame collapses are at an all-time high due to a lack of understanding. Referred by Reed as “barn floor” easy to understand physics lessons as it relates to the Vortex, are covered in extensive lectures with an accompanying student manual. Reed is renowned for his teaching of practical rigging principles with understanding and simplicity. (For those wishing a more advanced mathematical approach to Vortex rigging, RTR offers an annual “Beyond the Barn Floor” rigging seminar including basic trigonometry and calculus.)

What is the best way to use The Vortex Guidebook?

The Vortex is ideal for a wide range of applications, from access and egress to confined spaces, to the negotiation of complex edges in wilderness environments. The Vortex is the multipod of choice for professionals within the rescue, industrial rope access, construction, military, and entertainment rigging industries.

What is included in The Vortex Guidebook?

  • Design Principles
  • Vortex Assembly and Hardware
  • Basic Configurations
  • Direction and Magnitude of the Forces Acting on the Frame
  • Inspection
  • Warnings

Congratulations on your purchase of the Vortex (if you just made one recently). The Vortex is the most versatile, state of the art and functional multipod available to the rope rigging industries. With proper study and practical training, you can construct the Vortex to accomplish your rigging needs in any number of environments from industry to wilderness.



Peace on your Days…



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134 thoughts on “How to Use The Arizona Vortex Guidebook”

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