Tree Climbing Technique
A Brief Description of Doubled-Rope Technique Climbing
Most climbers first learn to climb using doubled-rope technique. This enables them to practice in trees which are relatively small, where they can easily set up ropes, refine their climbing technique, and get accustomed to being suspended from a rope above the ground.
To set up the climbing system, the climber must loop the rope over a branch. To do this, he uses some sort of rope placement device, usually a throw bag (weight) attached to a thin throw line. The throw bag and line are thrown over a branch; the rope is then attached to the throw line and pulled up and over. At the same time as the rope is being placed, climbers also position their branch protection device (through which the rope passes) to minimize damage to the bark and the rope itself. The climber then prepares the climbing system by tying a series of knots which work together to advance the climber.
Once the climber has put on his harness and helmet, he attaches himself to the climbing system. Now he’s ready for the ascent! Some climbers (primarily children) use only their arms to climb; others use either a Prussik (foot) loop or other “foot assist” method to easily push themselves up. DRT is usually a breeze for children, who are lighter in body weight. For adults, it takes more effort. But you certainly don't need to be an athlete in perfect physical shape to climb trees. Most people can do it.
Eventually the climber reaches the branch the rope is looped over. Now there is a choice: he can either secure himself to the branch and prepare to go higher, or descend. Climbing higher into the treetops requires placing new rope settings (called "pitches") over branches above. Several methods for doing this are available, depending upon the climber’s experience and the tree itself. That this can be a complicated process, but also it is where most of the challenge of tree climbing comes from.
Descending is easy. All that’s required is to lightly grasp the modified Blake's hitch and gently pull down. Safe descents are not fast descents, and a too-rapid descent can be dangerous. Climbers often place safety (slip) knots in their ropes to prevent themselves from accidentally coming down too quickly. Another protection from getting hurt during the descent is the Blake’s hitch itself, which automatically stops the descent when the climber lets go of the knot.
We cannot describe what you will experience while up in a tree. Most people find a calmness, a disconnect from the busy world below. You’ll see, hear, and feel nature in a whole new way. You'll feel invigorated, too. Whatever your experience, tree climbing takes you into another world, and it can be as close as the tree in your own yard.
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