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Beginner Tree Climbing Tips

Merle Nelson

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I have been enjoying reading the exchanges recently between ch74 and some of the more experienced climbing members of The Tree House. It has gotten me to thinking what it would be like to be new to climbing and excitedly wanting to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible and to come on an archive of tips. A collection of single thoughts or concepts each one of which some more experienced climber thought was important to know from the beginning of my career.

Bermy shared one such tip about putting a full wrap on a utility pole with a flipline ... and said, “Ask me how I know this.” Well, I’d like to know, how do you know this? (Stories, as well as being enjoyable, help to illustrate the importance of something and lock in our learning.)

I’ll start with; when climbing with spurs, and in the event of a rip out (and you will have rip outs) always keep your spurs angled in toward the tree, they will catch again.
 

SouthSoundTree

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Always weight-test and visually test your new life support system at a changeover, before disconnecting your current system.
 

ch74

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Awsome. Love this thread already. :goodjob:. I would also like to thank all the people of The TreeHouse for all your tips. Nhlocal, Masterblaster, Sean, Nick, Climbmit, and Jack to just name a few ....
 

NHlocal

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O.K., I'm all ears. Always hungry for more learning..... :D
Already have learned TONS from you guys, sure lookin' forward to learnin' more. :)
Sooooo, does this mean class is in session? :greenjumpers:
 

HolmenTree

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First thing first Merle is practice throwing a shot bag and throwline into a crotch in your "hardwood" tree, to then install your double ring friction saver in.
Then install your climbing line into this friction saver.
Then tie into your doubled line and saddle with your friction hitch and micro pulley to advance your friction hitch.
Practice foot locking or body thrusting up into the tree.

14 years ago when I took my very first "basic climbing skills" ArborMaster training course, this is what we learned. Best training a new climber can ever have........then fine tune your technique with discussion on Tree House.:)
 

Merle Nelson

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You hope, lol! I've rode all the way to the ground before!

Tip - keep your spurs sharp!
Ouch!!! Furthest I have slid down was three or four feet, and I didn’t like the jolt when that ‘caught’.

Sometimes it’s important to combine tips. 1) Keep your spurs angled in. 2) Do a flipline wrap an any spar for any distance your not willing to fall. And, 3) Don’t walk around on the ground with your spurs on.
 

Porkbrick

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if you are climbing double line, i feel the friction saver is an essential piece of kit. my advice is to learn the basics (prissic, hitch pulley, friction saver, and throw ball), get comfortable and get proficient, THEN start messing with gizmos and shiny bits. bells and whistles will not make you a better climber or pruner, only practice and confidence in your skill can do that.
 

ch74

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Well put porkbrick, holmentrees, master, keep going were listening. I have broken 3 throw bags, trying. So i used a old shakle i had ...I have a ? should a beginner stay away from a v.t. or what is the best friction hitch to get use to that dosen't bind?
 

HolmenTree

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if you are climbing double line, i feel the friction saver is an essential piece of kit. my advice is to learn the basics (prissic, hitch pulley, friction saver, and throw ball), get comfortable and get proficient, THEN start messing with gizmos and shiny bits. bells and whistles will not make you a better climber or pruner, only practice and confidence in your skill can do that.
Very true.
Always learn at the start and practice double line [dynamic] climbing, then after you can practice foot locking on the old school arborist "static" prussic on double rope what todays tree climbing competitors use.
And as I mention tree climbing competition, I think every young arborist should get into this sport.
I never did though.... because I was once a young logger and got into timbersports.
14 years ago when I first got into climbing in my 40's .....I had no desire to compete in a climbing competition with a bunch of young bucks :drink:
 

HolmenTree

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Willard, I totally agree with you when it comes to first things first. I would have liked to have learned that way.
You can learn that way too Merle, it will cost you about $500 for a 2 day course [maybe your employer can cover half or more of the cost] I learned through ArborMaster Training.
Two days hands on instruction and they supply the equipment , even the saddle of different models.
Its done under a competitive process where students are put into teams and timed each with a stop watch to on throwline etc. to gain points. Then at the end of the course prizes in the form of small items of tree climbing gear are handed out........a lot of fun and the best $500 you will ever spend.

Then every 3-5 years take the same course over again because you will refresh plus learn new advancements in the industry.
 

Merle Nelson

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Always weight-test and visually test your new life support system at a changeover, before disconnecting your current system.
Make rules for yourself.

I like ‘rules’ in life. I think they are easy and energetically economical ways of organizing our actions in ways that ‘work’. One of my top rules for myself is always visually inspect and then test my life support changeover. If I ever miss this step I slow myself down and re-commit to following this rule.

If I am distracted by anything (a marching band practicing one time) to the point of having a hard time following this rule, I will change what I must or get out of the tree till I can.

Once when we used to have non locking flipline snaps, and two or three other times this rule ‘written in stone’ had me see that my life support was not properly connected up.
 

Merle Nelson

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That sounds interesting Willard, I will see what trainings would be in line with the skills I want to polish and learn. I’ll check AMT events for my area.

I knew I would pick up as many or more good tips from this than any “beginner”.
 

bonner1040

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Cool thread! here are a few...

***

Dont switchover life support systems when extremely fatigued. For example, if you just footlocked up and you are huffing and puffing, arms numb, feel like you are going to throw up...Just relax, get your heartbeatdown, slow breathing, then switch.

In rock climbing most deaths occur when climbers finally 'finish' the climb and switchover to clean the gear on rappel, generally speaking they set up the rappel wrong and fall to their deaths. This easily translates to treework IMHO.

***

Like Sean said always test a new system before disengaging the old one. For example, if you switch from climbing line to lanyard and are going to untie your climbing line, make sure to weight the lanyard fully to 'test' it, THEN untie your climbing line.

***

Learn the basics, closed system blakes >> Splittail blakes >> THEN move on to eye and eye (VT etc). Knowing how to use a closed system is indispensable in my opinion.
 

Adam_P

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Learn the basics, closed system blakes >> Splittail blakes >> THEN move on to eye and eye (VT etc). Knowing how to use a closed system is indispensable in my opinion.
Good stuff already in this thread.

I completely agree with that, Nick. I use my tail in a closed system to double crotch. If you know your basics you don't have to depend on gadgets and other more complicated setups to get you out of a jam.
 

Page

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yup, the basics. tail of the rope to tie your hitch, don't rappel so fast you melt your line. I have some fancy gear I use when I deem it necessary but more often then not I'll climb old school. it's fast and simple.
 

Appalachian

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Spend a little more and get a comfortable harness.
After 7 years of feeling like my hips are in a vise I finally got one that didn't do that and I wish I
did that back when I started.
 

Bermy

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So..'ask me how I know'...

I slid about 8 feet down a skinny trunk when I gaffed out, tired at the end of the day. Landed in the cut branches below, a bit scraped up.
I now either double wrap or put another lanyard below attached to my bridge. Before I get cries of disbelief, this is usually on coconuts, that are not that tall or fat, and are smooth so all the lanyards slip upwards easily.

I double/triple agree the 'test before you disconnect' on changeovers, I knew a guy who didn't and he fell 40' smashed his ankles and stuff.

If you feel like you want three attachment points then DO it, ain't nobody up there but YOU. I don't care if it looks dumb, it sure feels nice when you are the one swaying in the breeze with a sharp implement real close to your parts!

My mantra:
'What will happen if this goes wrong?' Ask this question just before you cut, where will the piece go, where will your saw go, and where will YOU be when they go? As long as none of the three might connect, then you're good to go. If not, or if your a little unsure, take the extra time to get more secure, move to a better spot, change your cutting plan, whatever it takes to reduce the risk of something going badly wrong.

And:
If you just aren't feeling it in any tree, STOP! It might only take a few minutes to collect yourself, or you might need to come down and start again the next day. Pay attention to the still small voice that worms in your gut some days.

And:
Observe your surroundings, learn body language of trees...'Stupsi' by Clause Mattheck is a great little book. Trees can tell you a lot about what stresses they have just from wrinkled bark, bulges, splits, excess growth in certain areas, etc...and these can alter how you approach a job.
 
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