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TOPIC: Basic Safety Protocol

Basic Safety Protocol 9 years 7 months ago #131785

  • moss
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Ok, everyone has their favorite climbing systems, favorite carabiner gate, rope, harness etc. Without prescribing what kind of technique or gear a climber uses, what are the most fundamental safety rules or protocols for a recreational technical tree climber?

I'm hoping that we can come up with a useful basic safety protocol. This is not to teach people how to climb or configure gear, this is to create awareness about basic concepts to stay alive while climbing recreationally in a tree.

I'm kicking it off...

1. Do a thorough inspection and assessment of the tree, if you are not qualified to do so, find someone who is.
2. Use rated rope and gear designed for the task.
3. Set your rope on a live, structurally sound branch no less than 6\" diameter.
4. Set your rope close to the branch union with the trunk.
5. Wear a helmet rated for impact from above.
6. Inspect all gear and life support connections before leaving the ground.
7. Always remain tied in while in the tree.
8. Do not climb above your tie-in.
9. If you perform a switchover from one tie-in to another, do not detach from the first tie-in until you have inspected your new attachment points (harness and tree) and fully loaded the second tie-in. That means vertical hang with your feet off the tree. The first tie-in is slacked just enough that you can fully load the second system.
10. Be aware that if you move horizontally out on a limb that a swing back to the trunk can generate force similar to falling to the ground.
11. Arborist static and semi-static climbing ropes and harnesses (that we generally use) are not designed to absorb a fall, they are rated for \"work positioning\". Do not climb in such a way that exposes you to a fall onto a slack rope. Always remove slack from the rope when you climb with your hands and feet on the tree.

Note: Experienced climbers develop their own style and methods known as \"individual climber style\", novice climbers do not have that luxury. Beginner climbers do not have the practical experience to make informed decisions involving higher risk in the tree. It doesn't matter how smart or capable you are in other areas of life. For discussion on individual climber style and risk read Joe Maher's article here:
The Double Standard

-moss
Last Edit: 9 years 7 months ago by moss.
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Re:Basic Safety Protocol 9 years 7 months ago #131789

  • treeman
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Splendid topic Moss!

#6- I would change it to \"inspect your gear before, during, and after each climb\". This applies especially to the rope. I do a tactile inspection with my finger tips for rope defects, even when I am packing my rope back into the rope bag. I have caught defects and nicks during my climb when the rope is fully loaded too.
Waving from a treetop,
Peter Treeman Jenkins
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Re:Basic Safety Protocol 9 years 6 months ago #131870

I am just a beginner, so I hope I don't seem like too much of a \"smarty pants\" by offering a safety rule. This one comes naturally for me, precisely because I am a beginner and it actually might be just common sense:
\"Do not attempt climbing when tired or in a hurry, this can greatly increase potential for mistakes\".

I've had to rest a few days before attempting new climbing technique because I wore myself out. If I go out late in the day when I'm tired or still sore from climbing the day before I risk taking a \"short cut\" rather than doing the safest procedure.

My two cents.

TW
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Re:Basic Safety Protocol 9 years 6 months ago #131872

  • moss
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I revised the Basic Safety Protocol list to include Treeman's and TreeWeasel's comments. That idea of this list is to cover the most basic and important safety issues and is not intended to be a comprehensive tree climbing safety guide.

1. Do a thorough inspection and assessment of the tree, if you are not qualified to do so, find someone who is.
2. Use rated rope and gear designed for the task.
3. Set your rope on a live, structurally sound branch no less than 6\" diameter.
4. Set your rope close to the branch union with the trunk.
5. Wear a helmet rated for impact from above.
6. Inspect all gear and life support connections before leaving the ground. Continue inspecting your gear and life support connections during the climb. Inspect your gear after the climb.
7. Always remain tied in while in the tree.
8. Do not climb above your tie-in (see item 11).
9. If you perform a switchover from one tie-in to another, do not detach from the first tie-in until you have inspected your new attachment points (harness and tree) and fully loaded the second tie-in. That means vertical hang with your feet off the tree. The first tie-in is slacked just enough that you can fully load the second system.
10. Be aware that if you move horizontally out on a limb that a swing back to the trunk can generate force similar to falling to the ground.
11. Arborist semit-static and static climbing ropes and harnesses (that we generally use) are not designed to absorb a fall, they are rated for \"work positioning\". Do not climb in such a way that exposes you to a fall onto a slack rope. Always remove slack from the rope when you climb with your hands and feet on the tree.
12. Respect fatigue, your brain doesn't work very well when you are tired.
13. Stay hydrated in the tree, always carry water when you climb up into a tree, even in winter.
Last Edit: 9 years 6 months ago by moss.
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Re:Basic Safety Protocol 9 years 6 months ago #131905

  • oldtimer
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Hey Moss, Thanks for keeping the board postings alive while I was gone! ;-) I met a guy that looks like you and has the same climbing style and philosophy about the trees, safety and similar ideas. It is weir to meet someone that looks and behaves so similar to someone else you know. The experience in venezuela was great, fun climbs and made a new friend. My Family is doing Ok under the circuntances (Mr Chaves destroying the country and all that) and to make you turn green with envy the price of gasoline is around 20 cents a gallon!. I was able to fill up the empty tank with around 2 dollars (4 bolivares)for around 15 gallons. Ouch!
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Re:Basic Safety Protocol 9 years 6 months ago #131911

I would add something about looking out for the safety of others (fellow climbers, passers by or wildlife), for example when throwing/firing shot bags up into the tree.

(A little off-topic but, regarding gasoline (petrol) prices, we in the UK are currently paying about $11 per gallon and it's rising fast!!!)

Michael
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Re:Basic Safety Protocol 7 years 7 months ago #134696

  • moss
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Bumping this thread back up, thinking a little little polish on the first part (add Michael's comments) and then move on to "not basic" safety considerations part 2, for example team climbing, multi-pitch climbing, woods or wilderness climbing etc.
-moss
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Re:Basic Safety Protocol 7 years 7 months ago #134698

Perhaps the 'not-so-basic section could include Moss's recent comments on another thread about visual signs of branch health (twig complexity, bud size, bark texture etc.) which is valid throughout the climb, not just at the initial rope-setting.

Maybe the section about climbing different species of tree could be collated and filled out over a period of time so that climber in different regions can adjust the above safety considerations for different species as the strength and toughness of branches varies widely.

By far the greatest factor in whether a force is going to break a branch is the bending moment that must be supported by the cross sectional area of wood at the crotch. In other words: the amount of leverage your weight exerts on the branch is proportional to the distance your weight is from the trunk.

Therefore if your rope is just a COUPLE OF FEET from the trunk then you are applying SEVERAL TIMES as much tensile force in the wood near the top side of the crotch than you would if your rope was sitting in the crotch.

Also, the force on the branch at the crotch is roughly proportional to the CUBE of the branch diameter because we are talking about leverage NOT shearing, which is only a minor force by comparison. Therefore a branch of 3" diameter will only be able to take 1/8th of the force that a branch of 6" diameter will. (Not 1/4th). A branch of 2" diameter will only take 1/27th of the force!

Michael
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Re:Basic Safety Protocol 7 years 7 months ago #134701

  • greenluck
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Only climb during good weather....

Wear safety glasses or safety sunglasses. This helps to protect from dirt, grime and bark bits that may rain down from your tie in point, or near by branches.

Climb with someone or let someone know the where and when of your climb.

Protect your rope and the tree with a friction saver or cambium saver.

I also agree with the suggestions about checking gear, equipment, and tree condition throughout the climb and being selective about line placement on the branch like michaeljspraggon explained using some very interesting math.
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Re:Basic Safety Protocol 7 years 7 months ago #134708

  • greenluck
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I have a safety question for everyone.....

Is it OK to use these as a primary connector and for life support? Lets assume I buy the larger variety and tighten with a wrench. Lets also assume I will use them in a way that doesn't require frequent opening.

They seem to be OK for New Tribe to use........




Or maybe I should ask this... is anyone using these as a primary life support connection?

What safety standards does a screw link or delta link met or not meet?
Last Edit: 7 years 7 months ago by greenluck.
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Re:Basic Safety Protocol 7 years 7 months ago #134710

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greenluck wrote:
I have a safety question for everyone.....

Is it OK to use these as a primary connector and for life support? Lets assume I buy the larger variety and tighten with a wrench. Lets also assume I will use them in a way that doesn't require frequent opening.

Every climber who uses a New Tribe harness is using a rated delta or pear screwlink as their primary life support connection. Essentially the screwlink holds the NT harness together, the climber can attach their rope to the harness by tying directly to the screwlink or by attaching a carabiner to the screwlink.

I never use a wrench to tighten my harness screwlink. Snug hand tightening is sufficient. Tightening with a wrench will increase chance of thread damage over time. The mallion rapide screwlinks used by NT are double threaded (each side/end of the screwlink is threaded) and take many turns to open, even when open it is difficult for a rope or part of the harness to disengage from the screwlink.
-moss
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Re:Basic Safety Protocol 7 years 7 months ago #134711

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Good reply Moss. I would add to make sure you use the larger 3/8 inch steel screw links. Stainless steel is even stronger (and much prettier to look at). Make sure whatever screw link you use is a stamped Malion Rapid France as there are counterfeits from China that have poor threading.

Also take a peek at your screw link while climbing long hours to make sure no threads are showing.

Deltas are good because of the top flat bar which makes multiple carabiners use a bit easier, though there are come climbers that think the pear shape is better- huh Moss? A rigging plate an be put in the screw link if you must have more attachment points.

Treeman
Waving from a treetop,
Peter Treeman Jenkins
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Re:Basic Safety Protocol 7 years 7 months ago #134712

  • treeman
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Michael,
That was a great reply on branch strength. Maybe I should forward your comment to the Boy Scouts of America who shot us down (tree climbing) a few years ago for not being able to tell them how much weight a branch could hold.

When TCI replied to the BSA we asked how they calculated anchor and chock placement loads when they did their caving and rock climbing activities. The BSA went stone cold on us and ceased to communicate. Too bad, because tree climbing is such a natural for boys.

Treeman
Waving from a treetop,
Peter Treeman Jenkins
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Re:Basic Safety Protocol 7 years 7 months ago #134713

Hi Treeman.

You were quite right not to give a figure for how much a branch would hold. A healthy branch could have a structural weakness in the heartwood or in its interface with the trunk and its own weight could be nearly enough to break it. That alone makes any calculations based on branch diameter and branch length pointless. There are so many factors to assess that it's impossible to apply a formula. Only the human judgement that comes from years of experience and understanding can help us avoid a disastrous mistake.

My last post wasn't an attempt to calculate what thickness of branch could hold a climber. It was merely using simple engineering principles to show that settling for a rope placement that is slightly thinner or slightly further from the crotch than we would have liked actually makes for a big increase in the chances of branch failure.

A little knowledge is dangerous if misapplied!

Michael
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Re:Basic Safety Protocol 7 years 7 months ago #134714

I should add that I feel much safer putting a static load on a tree branch that I've judged to be strong enough then I do taking a fall onto some bits of metal I've wedged into some cracks, having done both :laugh:
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