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Falling on steep slopes

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I had job the other day felling a bunch of firs on a real steep slope and was having a hard time keeping the logs from sliding down into the house at the bottom. We were falling them downhill in order to get the logs as close as possible to the road and cut down on the distance we'd have to carry stuff. I was using a stout rigging line to tether the trunk to it's own stump so they could only slide a few feet before stopping, but got frustrated at how long it was taking to get each one set up with only one rope. A guy I was working with suggested making the face cut really wide so that it would never actually close, thereby (in theory) preventing the hinge wood from breaking. I didn't want to try it because of the consequences if it didn't work (would'a owed the homeowner about 1/2 mil $). But I wonder if it might work. Anybody ever tried this before?
 

Burnham

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It can work. Some species of "fir" are more flexible than others, and good hingewood is critical to success. Not to make joke about your online name :D, but the amount of bounce you get when the tree hits ground can break the hinge even if the face has not closed.

I've had good success with Douglas fir staying attached to the stump, but this is a wood that hinges well. If the lay is flat, so the tree does not jump, it helps alot.

If half million dollar houses are likely to get hit if the hinge breaks free, then I'd tether them down like you did.
 
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Bounce

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Thanks Burnham. I hadn't really considered the layout causing the piece to bounce (is it too late to change my name? :|: ) The place where I was working had a nice even slope so I never even thought about this. I was also working with Douglas fir, which has about as sweet hinge properties as you could ask for. If it was alder or something more brittle, this probably wouldn't work. It would be interesting to play around with though when the stakes aren't quite so high.
 

Burnham

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Well, you could always tether the tree AND try the wide open face, if the next time you get the chance there still is a target if it gets away.

Make sure that your face is perfect...this is not the time to let a little dutchman slip by un-noticed.
 
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Bounce

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Yeah, you really gotta watch those Dutchmen. They can be sneaky little bassids. ;)
 

gf beranek

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Don't bet on the wide face to hold the tree to the stump when falling down hill. you'll quickly end up losing in that scenario.

Fixing the tree to the stump with rigging can work on small to moderate sized trees,,,, to keep them from shooting down the hill, but you got to go strong.

I had a fir break a 5/8 double belled choker doing that. It held long enough to keep the tree out of the creek. The choker broke, on the stump and the cable whipped around in an arch that came way,,,,,, too close to cutting my legs off.

It can work, but go heavy duty and stay clear.
 

squisher

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I've done it with a chain before but not on anything very big, and it was dead douglas fir. It wasn't cumbersome to do for me, put in your undercut, rig the chain and then backcut. Gotta be alot quicker than fixing a pricey home.
 

pantheraba

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Fixing the tree to the stump with rigging can work on small to moderate sized trees,,,, to keep them from shooting down the hill, but you got to go strong.

I had a fir break a 5/8 double belled choker doing that. It held long enough to keep the tree out of the creek.
Bodean had a video on this site awhile back (last year?) that I noticed had a rope tether on a pretty big tree that got real tight in the bottom corner of the screen when they dropped the spar...the vid was not about that but I asked him what it was. He said they were tethering the spar to the trunk with a large bull rope (as I remember it) but it just broke the rope. He said they should have used a strong cable instead.

Like Gerry says, "you got to go strong."

Look at the third video, at the 3 minute mark...you can see it break when the spar falls and BOUNCES (man, these guys giving you advice are GOOD....hoorah, Burnhan and Gerry).

http://gypoclimber.com/showthread.php?t=7559

On the page after the video, Frans comments that he uses cable (1.5 in.) for that job:

"For butt tieing I use a 1.5" choker cable about 20' long. Seems like cable is the only thing that keeps those suckers on a leash!"
 

NickfromWI

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The tethering would be a good application for one of the newer high mod lines. A dyneema or vectran sling can be easy to work with, and if it does break, you don't have to worry about recoil.

I've never had the need to tether a trunk, but it's worth remembering!

love
nick
 

Old Monkey

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The rope needs to run a little or it will likely break. A guy I used to work with carved a spiral notch on the bottom of the tree and took raps with the butt check line. The rope ran a little and then stopped the tree.
 
B

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I would set up a porty to let it run a bit...

.02
 

Old Monkey

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Just a spiral groove on the stump for the rope to follow. I did it a few times back in Cali where every job was on a slope. I have never needed a butt check on a tree here.

If you had multiple trees to fall couldn't you set up a portawrap on one central tree and fall a bunch with the same butt check?
 

rbtree

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The rope needs to run a little or it will likely break. A guy I used to work with carved a spiral notch on the bottom of the tree and took raps with the butt check line. The rope ran a little and then stopped the tree.

If needed, I just cut a notch or two to keep the line on the stump---sometimes use wraps other times a portawrap. I've snubbed the butt quite a few times, often to assure no sideways movement, even if on level ground. Yes, some movement is good to assure no line breakage.
 
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Bounce

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Nick - I read somewhere that the high modulus lines aren't so good at taking a shock load because they have such little stretch. Although maybe the huge breaking strength overcomes this?

I think the idea of using a porty or taking a couple wraps is the best I've heard so far. This would enable me to continue using rope (I hate working with friggin cable) and just simply apply the same concepts I use when I lower tops or butt hitch sections of the trunk. Namely, bring the piece to a stop gradually rather than suddenly.

Darin - your idea of using a single anchor point for the porty for multiple trees would have saved me about 2 hours that day. I even had my porty with me that day just in case I needed it, but never even thought about using it like this. Oh well, I guess you live and learn, right?
 

Burnham

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If the trees are of much size, you still better go big, even with using the porty. We're talking about big loads that come on really fast when the butt jumps.

I like Darin's idea, too.
 
R

Rotax Robert

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I have done this many, many times. Like Burnham said though, Go heavy. I use BIG chain, but even then on one occasion the butt stayed at the stump (all 20' of it) the tree busted and the chain held. Lucky for me I was only worried about that first 20'. I have never busted my chain but can see where with the shock could do this quite easily even with a chain/cable that has far more tensil strength than the tree weighs.

Another neet way I used when falling down hill across a swail is I crippled the tree up with a saw cut about 30' up the tree causing the tree to break at the bottom of the slope where it flattened out again. That took the bounce out of her.
 

wiley_p

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Everyone has given good advice. Still, I'm kind of hung up on the concept of dumping spars/trees downhill on a "steep" slope towards a structure, just to save effort in moving wood. Maybe taking the stuff sidehill or quarter the slope and rigging wood out in a more controlled manner would be the prudent choice.
 

squisher

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On steep ground whether you're laying it straight down the hill or sidehill or 1/4 sidehill you may still need to control the butt. Like I said I only did it on a smaller tree and it was a huge timesaver as the other option was to climb the very dead fir and chunk/rig it out which wasn't looking very attractive. As others say just another trick in the bag, the real trick is to know when and where it's safe to use it.
 

sierratree

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best to have your insurance up to date. don't be afraid to turn down the job. always an option to crane it out or cherry picker?
 
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