Learn the many principles involved in setting up a practical and safe Tyrolean Traverse in this highly technical and instructive course.

Generally Tyrolean Traverses are simple to set up in principle, especially if you already have a very solid base in anchor setup. There are always concerns about the forces acting on the ropes, slings, carabiners and anchors. This is because the rope is tensioned and horizontal. This takes out the stretch which normally absorbs forces acting on the rope - and the horizontal nature of a Tyrolean greatly increases forces acting on the anchors considerably.

The first principle of a Tyrolean is: always choose absolutely bomb proof anchors and the anchoring equipment. Strain on the anchors and related gear will be very high.

When the rope is hanging, it forms a curved shape which many call a parabola (it isn’t, but anyway it sags). When you put a load on the rope it’ll be a triangle. Your load will always want to slide to the middle, so forces are always calculated from there anyway.

The calculation of forces is very complicated, as there is a huge range of factors. Rope stretch (in itself very complex), whether the anchors are at the same height, whether a rope is used to pull the weight to the end, and so on. You don’t have a hope of getting a correct answer, so bear in mind the fundamental principles for reducing the forces.

One of the most common questions we receive on our rigging courses is how to calculate the loads on Tyrolean traverses and cableways. Whilst the exact calculations are extremely complex once you account for rope weight, stretch functions, sliding point loads and momentum.

Below are some of the questions we address during the course - short answers are provided on this page, but only practical hands-on application and practice can someone achieve the skills needed to insure a safe and proper setup.

What shape is the rope in a Tyrolean?
Without anyone on it, the rope forms a catenary - a hyperbolic function similar to a parabola. The real-world mathematics of catenary systems is extremely complicated but when a rope is loaded the person(s) are usually much heavier than the rope(s) and the system turns more into a simple triangle. You can approximate the maths using this triangle, just be aware the forces are a little higher in reality.

Does the load change at each end if i'm not in the middle of the rope?
Yes. the horizontal force at each end is always identical but the vertical force (and so the angle of the rope) depends on the distances from each end to the central load. It also depends on how the load is being kept in position - is it tied to the rope, or being pulled by another one?

Why always work things out with the load in the middle?
In the centre, the loads at each end are the same, so the maths is easy. Loads can increase beyond these values but unless your load is tied to the rope it will always slide to the centre point anyway.

What sag or angle should I use?
It's entirely relative! You have to make sure that the load at each anchor doesn't exceed your safe limits on equipment (pulleys, clamps, knots, anchors). A smaller sag is better for work as you don't have to haul the load back up the rope each side, but the forces on the system grow very fast as the angle gets small. We'd suggest never allowing the end load to exceed twice the supported load, and that (in the simple model) is an angle of about 15 degrees.

What about stretch in the rope?
This is why the real-world maths needs computers to solve! All the student-level equations assume the rope has weight but doesn't stretch. Nylon climbing ropes have a complex stretch-vs-tension graph, and this must be balanced into the catenary equation. The result is more tension needed for a certain sag than you'd expect on paper.

What if one end is higher than the other?
Obviously the load on each end changes - the horizontal load is the same but the vertical load is higher at the higher end of the traverse (obvious as the rope angle is steeper at that end too).

The maths is again possible using a small room of monkeys with iMacs, but the obvious result is to always put your hauling and tensioning gear at the low end of the rope where the tension is smaller!

Come join us on this challenging course and learn the physics and fun of setting up a Tyrolean Traverse!



..$495.00* per person (2-Day Course - Min. 2-person)

..See Schedule Below

..Class Size
..Minimum 2 - Maximum 4 per Instructor

..Discounts .
REI Members $10 Off / Bring-A-Friend $30 Off

..16 and Up

..Included (rental anchors, cable, rope, etc.) except daypack

..Joshua Tree / Queen Creek / Phoenix / Prescott

..6:00 am - Summer / 8:30 am - Fall /Winter/Spring/Summer

..Written Test

..Beginner climbing skills

..Course Info .
Pre-Course Info & Testing Materials will be emailed
..to participant upon course sign-up

...recommended reading for the course above:
Self-Rescue (How To Climb Series) by John Long


..tyrolean – 9-10


..tyrolean – 9-10


..tyrolean – 13-14


..tyrolean – 13-14


..tyrolean – 12-13


..tyrolean – 10-11


..tyrolean – 16-17


..tyrolean – 15-16


..tyrolean – 14-15


..tyrolean – 19-20


..tyrolean – 18-19


..tyrolean – 10-11

To sign up for a course call or email us to check availability. If a course is open click on the On-line Application Form or go to our application and map (meeting point) site, print out both the Application (PDF), Map and Waiver. Fill out the application and fax or mail it to us (don't fax the waiver, just bring it the day of your course).

Note: September thru April, Tyrolean Traverse courses start at 7:30 a.m. (with exceptions) at the designated pick-up point. Call us the day before your course starts to verify. Bring your own snacks, lunch, water, sunblock and wear appropriate clothing. Camera (disposable), writing pad and pen are recommended.

course cancellations
While it is unlikely, if the Arizona Climbing and Adventure School cancels a course due to insufficient reservations or conditions beyond our control (weather, etc.); alternate dates or refunds will be given as preferred. If you cancel within 14 days prior to your session, rescheduling your course can be expected. There are no refunds on gift certificates. If you fail to show at the designated meeting place at the appointed time you will be charged for the course - there are no exceptions. If you would like to reschedule within 48-hours of the course's starting date, you may do so. To receive a full monetary refund (minus a 20% handling fee), 14 days notice is required (expect a refund within 2 billing cycles or 60-days of your course date). You may also want to purchase travel insurance due to cancellations – click here for more information.

Although we spare no effort to assure a safe program, we can assume no responsibility for your safety or loss of personal equipment. In a sport of this nature an element of risk is inherent and beyond human control. A signed release (waiver) will be required of all participants. A parent or guardian release is required for students under the age of 18. These can be obtained in advance by contacting our office or downloading from our website.

Arizona Climbing and Adventure School is a unique opportunity for individuals to experience the spirit, courage and exploration of the Southwest. It is an initiation into the unexpected, a chance to accomplish something very exciting and to discover strengths you never knew you had. Additionally, the Arizona Climbing and Adventure School provides education in wilderness skills and working effectively with others.

To achieve a high learning curve among our students we keep our groups small in size. We consider the impact on the safety and flexibility of the group above all. Everyone knows that large groups and large student-to-instructor ratios are what make money for a guide service. But we feel that groups and ratios compromise the safety, enjoyment and success of individual participants. Better for you and better for us.

Having smaller groups also means you receive more attention and guidance from our professionals when you need it the most.

The skills you must learn in order to safely and ecologically negotiate the terrain, climate and altitude in which our courses are offered include:

• safety skills for travel through rigorous terrain.

• how to pack a backpack.

• physical fitness

• competence with map and compass, gps, route selection, navigation.

• rope use and knot tying, bowline, water knot, square knot, clove hitch, half hitch, figure eight

• basic first aid so that every student can handle reasonable emergencies and recognizes and aid in treating illness related to altitude, hypothermia, fatigue.

• rescue preparedness

• rock climbing, belaying, backpacking, canyoneering, rappelling, anchors.

• campcraft including minimum impact camping, ecological considerations, wilderness cooking, food selection and nutrition.

• water purification, hygiene and sanitation.

• care of equipment, ropes, clothing, packs, etc.

• environmental stewardship and Leave No Trace (LNT) techniques.

• safety from storms, flash floods and lightning.