The Basics Of How The Arizona Vortex Works

Written By: Lance Piatt

Okay, so we’re just going to talk about the background on why we use the Vortex, so for this demonstration, we’ve taken the rope out of the pulley, the head of the Vortex. In this configuration, assuming that the Vortex is actually not even here, you can see that John is tied into the red line as if it were your typical main-line rig. He’s at the edge and he’s ready to go over, but the distance between his rope attachment at his waist to the deck is several feet. This can make edge transition a little bit challenging. If he’s got a litter in the mix, then that makes it even more challenging, where he’s going to have to muscle and maneuver that litter over the edge and negotiate that edge while that rope drops down to the deck before it really catches his full weight.

Mitigating “edge trauma”, as many call it… is likely the most arduous job of any rigger or rope rescue team.  Edge trauma is all about the transition from vertical to horizontal terrain (or visa versa).  It is difficult and can be dangerous.  So it is here the vision and strategy of anchoring and positioning the working line at or near the edge.  Thus creating an “elevated working line” or “elevated high directional anchor”.

There are numerous commercially made artificial high directionals (AHD) on the market, and all are very good at what they do, and since we can really only cover one at a time… I thought I would start with one that pretty much got the wheels going first.  The Rock Exotica Arizona Vortex MultiPod V2 Portable Anchor.  Distributed in the USA by CMC Rescue.

There are 4 Artificial High Directional AHD Types

  • Tripods
  • Bipods
  • Monopods (Ginpole)
  • Specialized (these get complicated)
Arizona Vortex eCourse Training Available

Tripods are generally considered the most stable and require the least amount of work.  As the name implies… there are three legs in use.  The resultant must always be kept as close to the center of the footprint as possible.  Please refer to the vortex-technical-notice on this.  As often as not, the AHD needs to be set close to the edge, when a tripod configuration is desired, extending the back leg out, gives the AHD technicians plenty of room to work and keep the resultant within the footprint while allowing the headpiece to be at the edge.

Bipods are really unstable and thus require a fair bit of “guying”.  Pat Rhodes and Richard Delaney both cover this information in their courses with Rigging Lab Academy.  They’re essentially two types of bipod setups

  • Standard A-Frame
  • Sideways A-Frame

Monopods are potentially the least stable of all, however… these (in my opinion) are the future of high directionals. Freestanding with a quad-guy or minimally a “tri-guy” configuration, the resultant MUST be placed perfectly.  That said, once the concepts are mastered this will be “the go-to” configuration for all-mountain rescue and SAR teams around the globe.

The Specialized configurations are really bipods/monopod combinations.  Rigging Lab Academy released a new Elevated Anchor and High Directional Series in 2018 and the Specialized systems will certainly be some of the most interesting.  Please note… don’t get carried away with what can be done with such a system or configuration.  These consume MAYBE 5% of all systems ever needed in the normal world of rigging, so knowing the standard systems well will get you 95% of what you’ll ever need.

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Peace on your Days



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47 thoughts on “The Basics Of How The Arizona Vortex Works”

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