Page 1 of 1

Climbing System Advice

Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:19 pm
by edfrank
ENTS,

Many of you are tree climbers. I need to update my system because the material is old and doesn't fit well anymore. I will also be asking advice of caver friends. I want advice on a climbing rig and perhaps purchasing a new rope (static).

I really need to put together a new climbing system, mostly for cliffs and caves, and perhaps some trees. When I was hardcore caving I put together my current system, and I was skinny as a rail at the time. I have a seat harness I can get into, a couple of Gibb's Ropewalkers, and a Jumar... for climbing. (I have racks, figure 8's, biners-n-breakbars for rappelling, so that end it OK). I may just reconstruct a new Ropewalker system. So what equipment should I consider purchasing and what are thoughts on a rope? Accessories?

Ed Frank

Re: Climbing System Advice

Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 7:43 am
by Will Blozan
Ed,

As a start, I suggest you watch all of Andrew Joslin's videos and peruse tree/caving climbing forums. I'm sure you have but climbing gear is generally very personal and not the same person to person.

Will

Re: Climbing System Advice

Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:06 am
by edfrank
Will,

I likely will reassemble my old Gibb's Ropewalker system for caving, But I wanted to see if there was anything fantastic I needed to consider before doing all that stitching. Technology has improved since I did much pit bouncing years ago, Maybe with a little more gear could assemble one system for cliffs and caving and one to try tree climbing. I need a new rope also. I am told the caving standard is PMI EZ Bend 11 mm for a static rope.

Ed

Re: Climbing System Advice

Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:37 am
by mdavie
I'd suggest Sterling HTP static 3/8 (10 mm) as a great rope. You might look into a foot ascender, also. You could get a free catalog from Sherrill tree that has some illustrations of different setups; they sell a rebranded version of the Sterling HTP called "Snakebite", as well.

Re: Climbing System Advice

Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:47 pm
by AndrewJoslin
The cavers that I know who are also tree climbers generally do not use the same gear. Some gear is obviously in common like locking carabiners, helmet, mechanical ascenders, f8's etc. The harness requirements are very different, I've sat in a caving harness and there's no way I would try climbing a tree in it, waaay too painful. I don't know enough about caving and cliff rappelling but I suspect that you would need much longer ropes. In the east a 200' static rope is pretty much max for what you'd need tree climbing. 200' of 11mm static is a lot of rope weight to carry into the woods, that's why many woods tree climbers like the Sterling HTP 10mm static, more manageable to carry.

Check out the Tree Climbers Coalition forum, there are cavers there who also climb trees.

The best thing you can do though is find a tree climber in your area to help you with some intro climbs, there are safety and gear issues unique to tree climbing that are not always obvious, really helps to have an experienced climber around to work through some of that.

Setting ropes in a tree is an art and science unto itself, it's a combination of golf, fishing and voodoo. Climbers like Will make it look easy, it is not easy, takes years to build effective skills. The big slingshots available (Big Shot for example) make it easier for novices to get the high settings required for woods conifers.

It would be great to do an intro climber workshop at an ENTS gathering, something to think about.

Feel free to PM me directly with specific questions about gear and technique.
-AJ

Re: Climbing System Advice

Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:01 pm
by AndrewJoslin
edfrank wrote:Will,

I likely will reassemble my old Gibb's Ropewalker system for caving, But I wanted to see if there was anything fantastic I needed to consider before doing all that stitching. Technology has improved since I did much pit bouncing years ago, Maybe with a little more gear could assemble one system for cliffs and caving and one to try tree climbing. I need a new rope also. I am told the caving standard is PMI EZ Bend 11 mm for a static rope.

Ed
For SRT ascent many tree climbers (myself included) like the "Tree Frog" system, you can see an illustration on the Sherrill Tree web site. For even more efficiency a Mitchell System is good, it's more gear intensive though, requires a chest roller. With the Jumar you have you could build a Tree Frog system, you'll need to add a long footloop, a Petzl Croll (or equivalent) and a foot ascender, I like the Petzl Pantin a lot.

I like to use a Grigri for rappelling out of trees, you can get a great price on one now because Petzl has just introduced an improved smaller version. The original Grigri is a solid piece of gear and well worth the $60. it's going for right now.

The other SRT system to look at is a RADS (or Yo-yo), very easy to climb, not as efficient as other systems but versatile because the descender is inline, switchover to descent is very safe and easy.

The Unicender is a relatively new combo ascender/descender on the market which can be used SRT or DRT, a little pricey. I've climbed on it but was not overly impressed, other climbers swear by it.
-AJ

Re: Climbing System Advice

Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:16 pm
by edfrank
AndrewJoslin wrote:The cavers that I know who are also tree climbers generally do not use the same gear. Some gear is obviously in common like locking carabiners, helmet, mechanical ascenders, f8's etc. The harness requirements are very different, I've sat in a caving harness and there's no way I would try climbing a tree in it, waaay too painful. I don't know enough about caving and cliff rappelling but I suspect that you would need much longer ropes. In the east a 200' static rope is pretty much max for what you'd need tree climbing. 200' of 11mm static is a lot of rope weight to carry into the woods, that's why many woods tree climbers like the Sterling HTP 10mm static, more manageable to carry.
Andrew, When I was getting started in New Mexico most people had 300' ropes. They were a real pain to carry around on long hikes to the entrances and within the caves. Many of the drops were less than 100 feet. I purchased a 150' of rope and ended up cutting it into a 100' and a 50 foot. Then we could use it for a handline on shorter climbs and rappels for shorter distances without the weight and bulk of the 300' ones. It made things much nicer. I will likely get an 11 mm (7/16) rope for caving. The real choices are PMI EZ Bend, PMI Pit Rope, or Bluewater II. These might not be the standard or optimum for tree climbing, but they have good wear characteristics and sheathings for use in wet and muddy environments.

I am strongly leaning toward reassembling my Ropewalker system for caving and then a different one for tree climbs. There are many different styles of cave seat harnesses. I am sure that they are all not as uncomfortable to use. I never have had problems with mine. The difference I suppose is that in the cave you are trying to either get to the top or bottom and not hanging around in the canopy.

Ed

Re: Climbing System Advice

Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:59 pm
by AndrewJoslin
edfrank wrote:I am strongly leaning toward reassembling my Ropewalker system for caving and then a different one for tree climbs. There are many different styles of cave seat harnesses. I am sure that they are all not as uncomfortable to use. I never have had problems with mine. The difference I suppose is that in the cave you are trying to either get to the top or bottom and not hanging around in the canopy.

Ed
PMI EZ-bend is used by some tree climbers, no problems there.

You are correct about why cave harnesses are not great for tree climbing, tree climbers spend many more hours on rope in their harnesses than cavers. Tree climbing harnesses have much more padding and support in the waist belt and legstraps.
-AJ

Re: Climbing System Advice

Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:22 pm
by mdavie
One other thing to consider is what you're reason is for climbing a tree. If you're just going up into a crown and back down on a single line you can't get around a canopy too much (very easily, anyway). That's why most people climbing trees switch to a double-line technique, to move up and down through a crown or out on limbs with more facility. There is another level of learning and gear, however. Climbing throughout a crown involves much more lateral movement, and that's where a difference in harness would really make a difference in climbing. Besides the padding Andrew mentioned, the tree harnesses are often made with sliding bridges and different attachment points to allow more configurations and movement in climbing.
I've been using a single hand ascender with a single foot ascender for years now, but I'm toying with getting a Croll for the "tree frog" type ascent, just to reduce the effort a little bit. I still think you should look into the htp, it's also a good caving rope. Just make sure whenever you use a static in a tree that your anchor point is secure, because even a relatively short drop on a super-static can really hurt you.