The Less Than 10 Percent Solution Just Got Easier: Highlines

Written By: Lance Piatt

Time for transparency here.  Highlines versus Offsets.  Which is one of these accomplishes the goal of moving the person or load from one side to the other in the most effective and efficient manner?

Well, at this point I wasn’t thinking about either one… I really didn’t care. I hadn’t ever set up a true working highline with a full load on my own and this I wanted to do.  I have helped others.  I have watched others.  I have encouraged others and obviously, I have filmed many of them.  But never gone through the journey of setting one up on my own. And I dare say, I was a bit intimidated.  Here I work with some of the best and most knowledgable thought leaders this industry and I can’t speak first hand on the subject and I needed to fix this.

I want to interject something here… I am not going to be doing any sort of “teaching or instruction” on building highlines.  We (Rigging Lab Academy) have a ton of amazing video courses on this and of which this topic is and will be covered much more extensively by our course partners.  However, what I am wanting to share is my journey or adventure; getting over my fears, getting off my butt and doing something about it and then… telling someone! Why is this last part mentioned?  Because being proud of your work is an essential ingredient in growing… skills, knowledge or service to others.

I am a pretty motivated and vision minded person, but I can also be one of laziest people I know.  Lazy to me describes a great many things in one word. Not willing to put in the work or energy to achieve something you know you should is being lazy and that was me with this “highline project”.  So I did what I should have done long before… I asked “Super Rigger-Man” (aka RLA) a few questions and I was off to the races. What reeve system should I use and how best to tension this “beast” (since this the biggest fear monger people seem to have).

So I chose an English Reeve and since I only have 11mm rope in the shop, I would be using the rule of 12 (a formula used to post-tension the system the dual trackline) and a couple of load cells (Rock Exotica Enforcers) will be added to the mix.

So here in lies the actual focal point of what I want to share… What am I needing to solve?  I had a ton questions, but since I knew I could build anchor systems, mechanical advantage systems, AHDs (artificial high directionals) on my own, I had the guts of what I need to use.  What I didn’t fully get was: how an English Reeve highline actually works and then why would I use an English Reeve (an Offset of some sort)?

I set out a very simple plan.

  1. Understand what I wanted to do.
  2. Divide the spans (platforms) into “work parties” and those being the near side (control side), middle (reeve system/patient) and far side (what I called the anchored side).
  3. Test and run

It looked and felt really complicated at first.  A ton rope and a plethora of things happening at once.  I have to say though… since I was only hearing my own voice, I wasn’t dragged down by a bunch of “options and alternative solutions”.  In a learning environment, rarely are multiple thoughts productive when the plan and steps are laid out properly. And since I endeavored to learn and venture through my own process, I was super happy to have a go on this…

Here are the focus points I needed to understand and work through

  1. The span/cord being the trackline itself.
  2. My deflection, being the midspan angle to the carriage (which carries the load)
  3. My tensioning system (which keeps the trackline tensioned properly)
  4. My reeving system (moving up and down the gap)
  5. My control systems (moving across the span)
  6. My litter package (which includes the reeving system as well)

The main ingredients used in this dish were.

  1. Rock Exotica Arizona Vortex
    1. SA Frame on near side
    2. Monopod on far side
  2. Petzl Jag System
    1. Guying
    2. Raising the reeve system
  3. Petzl Rig
    1. Progress capture on all MA systems
    2. Lowering device for reeve
    3. Tension release on tracklines
  4. Petzl RollClip
    1. Tensioning the tracklines
  5. Petzl ASAP
    1. Reeve safety and backup (for patient) should the reeving line become compromised
    2. Using the ASAP to replace traditional prusiks which require a person to manage (unmanaged litter needs auto progress and capture)
  6. Great pulleys
    1. Rock Exotica Omni Blocks
    2. Petzl Pro
  7. Petzl Axis 11mm rope

So in the end, I accomplished my goal. I had a lot transitional “headaches”, but nothing I couldn’t work through.  The package (Randy) moved safely about the space well.  The AHDs were solid and the defection angles appeared to work well.  I could have done many things differently, but as a first go around… I was pleased with the effort and outcome and looking forward to taking on another system of equal weight and work.

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Peace on your Days.



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9 thoughts on “The Less Than 10 Percent Solution Just Got Easier: Highlines”

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