The Forestry Forum

General Forestry => Forestry and Logging => Topic started by: lxskllr on July 11, 2018, 09:00:03 PM

Title: Tree Climbing
Post by: lxskllr on July 11, 2018, 09:00:03 PM
I went to the compost pile tonight and noticed one of my evergreens is almost completely dead. I hadn't really looked in awhile, and its condition surprised me. I have a couple others that are sick too. Anyway... I'm probably gonna take it down when the weather gets cool. Due to the height, and proximity to trees I don't want to damage, I want to take it down from the top. My two choices are cut off the limbs leaving studs to free climb up, or buy a climbing kit, and learn to climb with ropes/gear. I'd love to learn spur climbing, but ~$500 is kind of a lot to spend on something I won't use much, though there is future potential with the other sick trees. There's also rope climbing, but I don't have as keen a grasp on what it takes to set that up.

Any opinions? I have some harnesses and stuff for walking steel, but nothing that directly pertains to tree work. I could almost justify spending money to not have a tree service come in, but it's really just a justification. The trees I don't want hit aren't particularly valuable, so it could come down from the bottom, but I don't want to cause needless damage. I'd most likely use one of my bow saws. I think they'd be sufficient to get it low enough to fall without causing damage.

I guess what I want to know; is spur climbing useful/fun enough to warrant the gear purchase? Would some other rope system have greater potential future use? Or just free climb it?
Title: Re: Tree Climbing
Post by: Gary Davis on July 11, 2018, 10:44:31 PM
check amazon they have what looks like very good prices
Title: Re: Tree Climbing
Post by: KyLogger on July 12, 2018, 04:46:48 PM
I have climbed and topped a lot of trees with just a belt, rope and a pair of spurs.... I have also climbed a fair number in a saddle and rope.... You really need to know your business before you go monkeying (pun intended ;) ) in a tree with a powersaw!

Title: Re: Tree Climbing
Post by: lxskllr on July 12, 2018, 05:57:23 PM
You really need to know your business before you go monkeying (pun intended ;) ) in a tree with a powersaw!

Yea, free climbing's in my wheelhouse. I did it lots for fun as a kid, and occasionally for work as an adult. Last time was a couple years ago. I needed to remove a branch that was blocking sight, but didn't want to take down the whole tree. I got it, but I also got some nice rashes on the insides of my thighs. Getting old and fat  :^/
If I free climb it, it would be handtools only. If I end up going with spurs, I'd have to make sure I was comfortable in the tree, but that would probably be chainsaw work.
I need to really check everything out. I was gonna do it tonight, but didn't feel like it. I won't be doing anything til ~Nov when the weather's decent, so I have some time. I'm leaning towards the spurs cause it's something I'd like to try, and with some creative accounting, the expense can be justified, but it's all up in the air(hah!) at this point.
I'm kind of weird with heights. I can climb up and down, or plant my butt in one place fine, but walking laterally really weirds me out, even when tethered. I get anxiety attacks even thinking about it. Last time was this past winter. Had to grade bridge beams on the coldest night of the season at that point. 18F, but luckily no wind. Had to do a couple stupid things to get around gaps in the cabling, but I got it done fairly event free. When there's a gap in the cable, it's usually over a splice plate. Rows of bolts sticking up, with a ~6" flat part between them. Nice and uneven, with nothing to clip to  D^:  My hand's are getting prickly now just thinking about it. I used to do that stuff untethered when I was younger. I didn't like it then either, but I got it done. Bill Gates doesn't have enough money to pay me to walk steel unclipped today  :^D
Title: Re: Tree Climbing
Post by: lxskllr on August 26, 2018, 06:34:24 PM
Well... Got my gear this past Monday, and the weekend was fairly cool, so I pulled it out to try some drt climbing. I had earlier bought some rope ends from Pretty good deal. I got 50# of .5" rope for $75, and all the lengths were very usable, with a couple coils being especially long, though I haven't measured.

Anyway, I had a dead branch in my walnut about 12' up, and while it can take care of itself, I figured it would give me a good reason to try my gear. Used my throwline I found in the woods a couple years ago, and after two attempts got it in a crotch about 25' up. Pulled my line over, saddled up, tested my prusik, and... Nothing. Couldn't get off the ground. My prusik was binding, and my quick attempt at footlocking had the rope slide through the heel of my boots. I didn't try too hard since my hitch was binding. Kinda need everything working to bother. Tried the standard prusik as well as a blakes hitch. Both held great, but wouldn't slide after being loaded. It was kind of hot, so I took it all down(Got my new rope in poison ivy I didn't see :rollseyes: ), and read up on some hitches I wasn't as familiar with, and didn't think of while hanging under a tree. Next attempt will be a klemheist and a bachmann. Looking at them, I think they won't bind as readily.

So... Any tips on footlocking? Can't believe everyone is doing this in sneakers. My heels aren't that high; hot weather combat boots, but they're high enough to let rope slip through. I'm also running some scenarios through my head for making a foot loop that progresses with the climb, but haven't firmed up the setup yet. Trying to do it with simple gear. I don't want to add a bunch of mechanicals for something I'm doing for fun. My main purpose for the gear was spur climbing, but that won't be happening for a couple months. The rest is entertainment.
Title: Re: Tree Climbing
Post by: maple flats on August 26, 2018, 07:45:39 PM
I haven't climbed, but would love to, (but my wife won't agree to have me climb at my age. I did do some rock repelling about 30 years ago and loved it, but as my wife (of 51 years says, that was a long time ago).
Now when I look at a set of spurs and climbing ropes my wife says "don't you dare"!
I think the problem is that my mind still thinks I'm young but my body says not.
Title: Re: Tree Climbing
Post by: lxskllr on August 26, 2018, 08:05:42 PM
I haven't climbed, but would love to, (but my wife won't agree to have me climb at my age. I did do some rock repelling about 30 years ago and loved it, but as my wife (of 51 years says, that was a long time ago).
Now when I look at a set of spurs and climbing ropes my wife says "don't you dare"!
I think the problem is that my mind still thinks I'm young but my body says not.
That's one of the things that pushed me into getting the gear. I'm not getting any younger, so now's as good a time as any. If I squint a little and use "creative accounting", I can justify the money outlay, but I really just want to have fun. I don't really go on vacations, and until recently, haven't spent much money on toys, so this stuff is my toy. Maybe if I take off with it, I can make a few dollars in retirement. Probably not, but there's only one way to find out.

I hear ya on the getting old. I had to layout some beamseats on a bridge abutment last week. It was about 5.5' high. I put my prism pole on top, looked around, put my hands on top, then asked for a ladder. Back in the day I'd have palmed the concrete, and pulled myself up. Disappointing... Things just aren't as easy as they used to be  :^D
Title: Re: Tree Climbing
Post by: mike_belben on August 26, 2018, 09:28:06 PM
Rope climbing is a lot harder than gaffing, especially just using rope.  Its why tree surgeons have ascenders above them and on their shoe.  

You can make up a sorta long loop sling and prusik that to your main line as a foot loop, in addition to the saddle hitch above you.  So theres one prusik at about your face, and another at your waist.   You stand on the foot loop, loosen the knuckle on your prusik and slide it up then yank down.  Now sit into the saddle and advance the foot loop.  Itll be an inchworm sort of maneuver.

Basically you arent gonna be able to maintain the strength it takes to work the friction hitches using a free climbing foot wrap for more than a few mins.  You definitely wont have the energy left for much sawing.    The method i describe can help but if you lean back a hair too far on that foot loop, youll be laying down in the air.  Be ready for that.   Also.. Dont plan on being some limb walking pro, its not easy at all.  Much, much easier to climb higher, set a line, then descend and work like a spider, using another rope to anchor you where you need to be.  My rule of thumb was if i cant more or less relax and stay in the work position, im not roped in right yet.  But thats just me, and im self taught.  Maybe im wrong.  

It takes some gear and is a pain to setup at first, but a V.T. is a really smooth running friction rig.  One tug of the climbing line and the VT will run right up.  Yank on it and it locks on.  I cant even remember what kinda frenchy name it stands for.  

Prusik and klemheist are both great hitches so if youre having trouble, try different line.   Soft, flexible Amsteel type compositions slide pretty easy.  The double braid stiff fire resistant jacket ropes makes crummy friction rigs. Too rigid.  Cheap 3 strand mainline is also not great to climb on. Nothing wants to grab it.

*ALWAYS 2 tie in points, and atleast one being a steel core.  

*handsaw is a lot safer to onehand that a rear handle chainsaw.  So just dont.  

*keep your face out of the saws path and your saw path out of the rope zone.

*Some days youre gonna just have to eat A bucket of sawdust right in the face.  Dont go up without your glasses or your groundman.  Even a neighbor kid is better than none.  If you are running DRT, one snag of the slack down below means you arent coming down.  Youll quickly find leaving limb stubs to stand on is just 10 more things for your slack to snag.  And to hafta get your flipline over.  

*Test a gaff before you stand on it.  Your first gaffout is gonna be a wakeup call.  Its better if you dont have your face and knuckles slide 6 feet down the bark when it happens.  

*There are different lengths of spurs for different barks.  Have the right ones.  Pole spikes in a redwood is no better than long spurs in a beech.  

*there are very few times when you should not put a little snip under the limb youre cutting off, before you come down from the top to sever.  The worst two things are when the limb swings down and wails you in the boot, or worse, snags your rope free end as it falls, trying to yank you in half.  Worse than either of those, is when a top stands vertical, breaks the hinge, spins on the trunk and pencil dives into your flipline, between your chest and the tree, crushing you to death.  So yeah, dont do that.  I always kept myself figure 8'd into a single repel line.  Hit an artery with a saw or get tangled up to the point of crushing, you may have to saw your own flipline and do the 90mph repel before you pass out and discover terminal velocity.  EVERYTHING is serious up in the tree. 

Me in a past life

Title: Re: Tree Climbing
Post by: lxskllr on August 26, 2018, 10:05:06 PM
Thanks. Your foot rope sounds similar to what I had in mind. I was thinking about bringing the free ends up with me attached to a prussik, and alternating advancing the upper and lower prusiks. I'm doing it the hard way(I think) atm, and trying to climb a static double line. I don't have a cambium saver, so I don't want to cut my tree with rope. The line I'm using also isn't specifically for arborists, so that might be part of my binding issue. I have five different brands of rope, all static, but their main purpose is for rescue. Close, but not exactly what an arborist would use. I'll have to try the other ropes. The one I tried today was particularly stiff. A couple of the others have a softer hand.
Title: Re: Tree Climbing
Post by: mike_belben on August 26, 2018, 10:21:03 PM
I feel like tachyon was one of my favorites.. Maybe im wrong.  Yale cordage has a lot of great stuff.  I always bought closeout and cutoff loops to sample from baileys.  I started with dirt cheap junk and did the job but as i upgraded it was certain there was a definite difference.  I did takedowns and never had to worry about being kind to the tree.   

I generally would gaff up with steel core flipline and a single climb line clipped behind my belt for sending gear up.  Would toss a secondary rope flipline around for each cut then unhook it to climb again, limbing flush as i go.  In a wide bushy hardwood i would pass up above the major forks and tie in up high, then spider down with the figure 8 and out on the limbs to cut them into light pieces.  Taking off a 12" diameter 30 foot limb is really testing a trees soundness.  Its gonna whip hard and be way out of balance.  Easy to pinch a saw too.   

I think youll find that in pines, you rest and stretch on your gaffs or on your saddle.  Dont leave a hundred knobs sticking out.  They just cause grief.

DRT not really my thing after i developed the method above.  But for gaffless it might be the way to go.  That was not my bag at all. 
Title: Re: Tree Climbing
Post by: Stuart Caruk on August 26, 2018, 10:30:47 PM
I climbed thousands of feet using prussics and a fixed line in college and while I was a technical climbing instructor. Couldn't afford ascenders back then, and the ones available were crap at best. My harness then, and even now always carries a pair of 6mm ascenders pre tied, and ready to go. They are useful for so many things. I can't stand using them on a sit harness, and mostly climb with a full body harness tied in at chest height. Old school habits die hard.

I use 2 @ 6mm hunks of perlon. A short one tied in a loop that's about 16"" long, and a longer one with foot loops on each end. Mine are about 40", but the center of the lop should come to your belly button.

Make a prussic loop of 3 turns and clip into it with your chest loop. Loosen it and slide it up as far as you can reach. Sit down and hang on it. Make a prussic with the center of the leg loops. If you can do it on a single foot, you're a way better man than me. It takes waaaaay to much effort. Slide the lower prussic up as far as you can comfortably stand, then stand up. Loosen and slide the upper prussic as far as you can reach and sit down. Slide the foot loops up, and stand, and repeat over and over. I can still get up a fixed line faster with prussics than an ascender, and I can use them for other things if I run out of protection on a climb. 

If you're local I can lend you a set of spurs and a flipline. 
Title: Re: Tree Climbing
Post by: lxskllr on August 26, 2018, 10:56:16 PM
Thanks. I'll give that foot ascender a try. I should have enough cord left to make a decent loop. I have spurs and a flipline. I got the wesspur basic spur climbing kit. It comes with everything needed, though not necessarily the most modern or comfortable gear. I got it all assembled, but haven't tried it in-tree yet. I'm gonna wait til it's cooler for that. I have the tree I'm climbing/removing limbed as far as I can reach from the ground. My plan when I get the spurs on, is play around at ground level to get a feel for the system, and see what I can get away with. Then once I'm comfortable, limb the tree going up with hand saws, then bring it down from the top. I can get it short enough with handsaws to miss the stuff I want missed taking the rest down from the bottom with a chainsaw. If I'm especially comfortable in the spurs, I may use a chainsaw in-tree. That remains to be seen at this point. Hopefully it goes better than my rope climbing  :^D
Title: Re: Tree Climbing
Post by: mike_belben on August 27, 2018, 01:34:51 AM
None of it is comfortable.  Its a game of tolerating pain.  You wont know what youre capable of until game day up top.  Every tree looks easy from the ground.

Wrap some long winter socks around yours shins under the gaff cuff for padding, then strap as tight as you can.  Theyll loosen.  

Youre gonna need logger heel boots to really lock the gaff to your foot.  How you unstab the tree is a twist of the ankle.  With flat soles your boot is swimming in the gaff, whereas a logger heel really locks the shank of the boot and gaff together, and should have a steel shank support in the sole.  Without that your arches are just curling over a peg, its very painful with the wrong boots.

Go slow and be careful.  The height may bug you at first. In time youll numb to it.