The Gear Used In Artificial Highlines and Two Tension Rope Systems

Written By: Lance Piatt

Ultimate - the best achievable or imaginable of its kind.

Can we have The Ultimate Gear List for anything?  Probably not, but we can put some thought into what that might look like.

Before we get to the list, let us outline where this gear cache came from. In building this course with Jason Ilowite and Craig McClure, we wanted to focus on a very narrow range of products that accomplish things exceptionally well, have multiple uses, and with minimal downsides.  Doing so would keep the overhead of equipment cache down and maximize the upsides of the gear being used.

The Process

  • Starting at zero, we wanted a shared tension system with the most efficient gear choices possible.
  • We wanted recommendations on how to perform a rescue using a fraction of what is considered a mandatory cache for two-tension rope systems.

Fresh and straightforward – complexity minimized to simple systems. There was no hard-fast rule. We understand that not everything will work well and that some ideas could fail some type of test, but we agreed to solve such problems later and certainly before we put life on the end of the rope.   We created a clean and manageable environment with a simulated patient. An “ideation lab.”

Manufacturing improvements, technological advances, and techniques all adjust to the times. Folks might have an Arizona Vortex, maybe a few CMC MPDs, and perhaps several Petzl I’Ds and don’t know how to use any of it properly or know when to use what.  All gear can be misused, misapplied, or mishandled. The purpose of this course to discuss WHY we choose What we choose and give you a language to discuss the pros and cons of those choices.

Perhaps you’ve considered “going light” but aren’t sure how to do it and are concerned about deviating from G-ratings. Or you are making a move to “shared tension systems.”  The process started earlier will weave through A Guide To Artificial High Directionals & Two Tension Rope Systems, as well as some of the kit ideas we talk about later. No system is perfect, and there isn’t a silver bullet. Education, practice, failure, and analysis will start to answer your questions.

Learn More With Less – A Guide To AHDs and TTRS


Your Guide To Precision Rigging 
  1. The Artificial High Directional.  Most of the project centers around the Arizona Vortex and the TerrAdaptor in various configurations ranging from monopod/gin pole, Sideways A-Frame, A-Frame to Easel A-Frame.
  2. Shared tension systems.  Never in this course will you see a dedicated main and slack belay.  Share tension does not mean mirrored or exactly equal tension but rather the load resting on both ropes held in tension.  The gear is not nearly as essential as the implementation.

There is no reason not to incorporate a high directional into your rope rescue team (if you don’t have one) or to expand your knowledge (if you do have one).

Reasons for Two Tension or Shared Tension Rope System?

  1. Edge friction
  2. Bad (unsafe) edge transitions
  3. Rigging altitude for high-lines and offsets
  4. Vertical lifting anchors for confined space
  5. Plenty more besides these four listed.

In this workshop, we use a variety of different high directionals and know that this deviates from a lot of other available training. We didn’t just focus on the Arizona Vortex. We didn’t just focus on the Terradaptor. We didn’t just use the Vector. We used all three of those and in all three of them in different ways.

This course is all-encompassing when it comes to high directionals, no matter what high directional you have in your cache or what high directional you’re thinking about getting, this 5 Day Advance course is going teach you to use that high directional in not just one way but several different ways to improve your operations as a whole.

So our #1 choice for AHDs would be the Arizona Vortex.  

Want to see an Arizona Vortex?

The Arizona Vortex is the ultimate artificial high directional system (AHD). The Vortex is designed for multiple configurations, including tripod, bi-pod, and monopod. Separately the two heads create an A-frame, Gin-pole, a combination of the two, as well as a multitude of other configurations. The Vortex is used in a variety of situations, including mountain and confined space rescue as well as rope and work access. Many companion products exist to extend the functionality of the Vortex, such as the Omni-block, AZTEK, Kootenay, and AZORP, which allow it to meet virtually any requirement for a portable AHD system.


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Peace on your Days



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