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TOPIC: Harness and Lanyards for Beginner

Harness and Lanyards for Beginner 1 year 7 months ago #137678

  • BrianF
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I'm just getting into recreational tree climbing. Right now climbing a tree means picking one with some appropriate branches and climbing as high as I dare to go. So right now my priority is adding a harness and some staggering attachment points, basically a harness and 2 lanyards. That way I can climb and not fall to the ground if I make a mistake.

I know that there are some nice starter kits, but they just seem too complicated and effective. For one thing, it just seems like too much to learn about at once. I'd be getting a big bag full of stuff that I don't even know how to use properly. Right now my number one priority is simply making a slip not automatic death or serious injury. In just want to have some fall protection.

Plus I'm not feeling drawn to the rope assisted climbing techniques. To me they seem too effective. Like I can just buy a kit, practice for a while, and then go out and climb almost any tree I can find. I'm not an arborist and don't need to rope my way directly to the top every single time. To me it is fun to look for good climbing trees, find ones that seem to be climbable at my skill level, plan a route, test my strength, that sort of thing. I want to have to pick good trees and have more possibilities open up as my skills expand.

Anyway, I'm looking for thoughts on harnesses and lanyards. I'd also like to hear thoughts on more minimalist sport climbing styles, alternatives to arborist climbing techniques though perhaps that is a topic for another thread.
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Harness and Lanyards for Beginner 1 year 7 months ago #137680

Brian

Welcome

IMHO. TCI has a online course and DVD that shows great examples of a tried and true climbing technique.

Its based on recreational climbing techniques, not just get up there to get it down. The method they use is also pretty minimalist gear wise compared to what a production climber may use.

I'm not saying go out and buy all the stuff they have to offer, But it is a good tool to broaden your horizons for recreational tree climbing.


Honestly, after going to through the program myself....the AHBTTC video/course they offer explains pretty much all the questions your have here.

But ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS Think first, Plan ahead, be safe
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Harness and Lanyards for Beginner 1 year 7 months ago #137682

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I saw the DVD and training course. I should probably give it a chance. I'm also realizing that I might eventually want most of the standard equipment anyway.

However I'be been down this road before, and to me it seems like folks sometimes make stuff way too complicated. I mean there is a whole rope art side to climbing. You can spend years and years just learning about different equipment and techniques. Coming into the practice it just seems like this huge and overwhelming thing to step into.

Then I step back and think about every other sport I got into. People swore that it was worth buying a fancy kayak, plus a skirt, plus fancy paddles, plus deep water recovery equipment. Then of course you need training in how to use all that stuff.

You know what I did? I bought a $250 dollar sit on top. I've paddled it in the Atlantic Ocean in surf and way, way off shore. I've had it in Lake Erie during a storm just playing in the big waves. I've paddles fast running creeks and rivers. I take that little thing places that scare serious kayakers with their overly complicated set ups.

"You can't go out there without knowing how to roll and recover if you get water logged! Have you taken and approved training course?"

"Nonsense. I's a sit on top. You can't sink it. If it tips you climb back on or just use it as a raft. Plus it was only $250 dollars. If it gets too rough I'll just let it go and swim to shore."

Now obviously there is more to it than that. Still need a life vest, still need to know how I am personally protected in sketchy situations. But the point is that I always feel like people make stuff way too complicated for my tastes.

Some people like gizmos and gadetry. Some people like learning new art forms. I just like playing, goofing around in a boat or climbing a tree. I have to know enough to be safe, but in my opinion too much complexity takes away from the simple, child like joy of certain activities. I don't want to screw this up for me or render it unapproachable by making it more involved than it needs to be.

"See tree that looks fun to climb. Go try to climb it. Use something to make sure you don't fall."

That's all I want this to be right now.
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Harness and Lanyards for Beginner 1 year 7 months ago #137683

:)
Last Edit: 1 year 7 months ago by mlhoraist.
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Harness and Lanyards for Beginner 1 year 7 months ago #137684

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One of the biggest things that I'm struggling with is the cost of a saddlle.  You can really spend some money compared to a more basic rock climbing style harnesses.

I know that the side attachments points allow some extra options.  However since there is no way I'm getting spikes and tearing up trees just to climb, I wonder how necessary the flipline/lanyard attachments really are.  I also don't weigh much and don't plan on spending a lot of time hanging in or working from the harness so right now I am not seeing the need for something that comfortable.  The price, the hanging comfort, and the flipline attchments are perfect example of why I feel like the sport is still heavily influenced by professional aborist techniques.

I mean $50 for a basic and adjustable harness that me, my wife, and my teenage kids can use, or $150+ for one that only fits me.  I just can't justify that until I see how serious I really am about climbing trees and if my personal style warrants it.

Right now I'm thinking all purpose adjustable harness, even if it only has a single attachment point.  I'm going to use hunting style rope lanyards.  I can rope ascend with two prusiks, one on my harness and a second attached to a loop of rope for a foot.  A figure eight descender backed up by a prusik that I have to hold to descend can get me down.  I can put together a throwing setup with hardware store cord and almost anything on the end.

So basically,

Harness:  $50
Two adjustable hunting lanyards:  $40
A decent length of prusik cord:  $20
Figure 8 descender:  $10
Homade throw line:  $15
5 or 6 carabiners:  $60
Cheap rope for non safety uses:  $20

Of course my biggest single expense will probably be good climbing rope.  I haven't really begun to look into that yet.

That is kind of what I am thinking right now.  I know it isn't going to be fast, efficient, or comfortable, but it should get me climbing.  I can expand and improve things once I learn more about what I like and want in a set up.

Anyway, thank you for the response.  I'm glad to see others interested in this activity.
Last Edit: 1 year 7 months ago by BrianF.
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Harness and Lanyards for Beginner 1 year 7 months ago #137685

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Hi Brian,

Patty Jenkins here. I run TCI; my husband Peter founded it.

I'm glad to see you here, and have been reading your posts. At this point, though, I have to say that you're scaring me. Tree climbing can be dangerous if you don't have the proper equipment and don't know what you're doing. With one mistake, people die or get life-changing injuries. This is not something you can do in a "minimalist" way without taking massive risk. Either you do rope and saddle climbing safely, with the appropriate gear -- which does not have to be fancy -- or you should not be doing it at all. I know that sounds kind of harsh, but that's the reality. Anyone who has been in the business for a while, who knows what they're doing, and whose primary concern is safety would tell you the same thing.

You don't need an awful lot of gear to climb safely. If you look at the TCI basic recreational kit (sold at WesSpur and TreeStuff), you'll see that it has everything you need and nothing you don't need. That's why we designed it: no fluff. So, for example, when you say in your list that you're going to get "some carabiners," do you know to include life-supporting carabiners? Do you know that those are the 'biners that you MUST use to attach your rope to your saddle or risk getting unclipped from your rope? Do you know that you need arborist rope, not just any "good rope"? Why are you including a descending device and two lanyards? You don't need them. You do need a throw bag and a helmet. I could go on, but I hope I've made my point: learn before you buy or you're throwing money away.

Once you learn to climb, there are all sorts of things you can do SAFELY in trees that go beyond sitting and enjoying the view, if that's what you want. All you have to do is look at the YouTube videos by Andrew Joslin or Richard Mumford to get some idea of what's possible. Or go to Facebook and look at the Atlanta Tree Climbing Club page.

Hickory Leaf is right, and I appreciate his recommendation. The online course is based on our years of experience teaching climbing, and IMHO is well worth the $85 bucks. It provides you with the BASICS so that you have a good solid foundation from which to add to your skills. Please buy it before you go any further.

All the best,
patty
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Harness and Lanyards for Beginner 1 year 7 months ago #137686

:)
Last Edit: 1 year 7 months ago by mlhoraist.
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Harness and Lanyards for Beginner 1 year 7 months ago #137687

:)
Last Edit: 1 year 7 months ago by mlhoraist.
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Harness and Lanyards for Beginner 1 year 7 months ago #137689

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You need climbing rope and carabiners? Dang, I was looking at my keychain and clothesline an hoping to get in the trees today.

But seriously, I'm not that oblivious. This is just how I approach things. I can't just think between the lines. I have to explore all kinds of different possibilities. Often times that only leads me back to the “proper” way to do things, albeit with a lot of insight into why that way makes sense. However a lot of times I do find cracks in the system, little ways to do things differently.

For the record, I appreciate what has been done here. I'm sure this has helped many people get into the activity safely. I just can't use the "spend money and follow the directions" learning system. It doesn't work for me. Though I do hope to actually become a financially supporting member, provided that I can find a place here. I'll probably buy the DVD to at the very least understand the kind of techniques most people use. I continue to learn though other resources and videos, but in order to communicate here I need to know your language and methods.

To answer some of the questions, I want two lanyards because I want to climb branch to branch as much as possible and want to make sure I am always attached to something. Give me a basic harness and two lanyards and I can play around in some nicely structured “climbing trees” while I figure out what else I need. Plus I want to play with a lanyard and try things like ascending one from a hanging position after a fall, or securing myself in different ways. So that means one lanyard to actually protect me and another to experiment with.

I bought a descender because it is the one thing I know how to use. I've actually repelled a little bit before, though it was probably on junk rope, with people that learned from some guy, that learned from some guy, before the internet where you could actually look things up. You just had to inspect the rope, study the way it fed, and make a decision on whether it seemed safe enough.

I'm still not sure how much I’ll actually use the descender at high heights. I have to play with it and find ways to make it safe. For $10 it may just be a little toy to play with sometimes. A fun toy though.

The thing is, everything I climb with I will have to play with in order to understanding how it works and why I feel like I can trust it. For example, I looked as some different “Rads” systems people use. They confused me. I didn't understand all the rope routing and hardware. I would probably get hurt using something like that. I want to start with the simplest set ups possible because they leave less room for mistakes. Go up rope as simply as possible, go down rope as simply as possible. I'll start from there.

I'm going to start off quite low as well. I have a nice maple climbing tree in my yard that I want to set up as a training tree. Every technique and piece of equipment I plan to use at altitude will first be tested at low height. Lots and lots of playing around and trying things. Since I’m climbing for fun and don’t need to go high immediately I can do all kinds of stuff in the first few levels of branches, a whole jungle gym and climbing laboratory at my disposal. I can even stay tied off with one of my lanyards as I try out new tactics. Only after I really get a feel for the methods and equipment I’m using would I dare rely on them in more dangerous situations or forgo secondary fall protection.

Also note the difference in what we imagine. It seems like you folks are picturing expeditions to the highest peaks, while I'm imagining starting with something more like a small ropes course to test skills and techniques. Different ideas, and very different ways to approach recreational tree climbing.

My point is that I might be more ready for this than can be realized from my posts. A lot of this is just me trying to figure things out. I will not trust a method until I have practiced it and am sure that it is safe.

If you have any specific advice or thoughts I’d really like to hear them. It can't be, “Follow the directions,” but on any specific idea I’d gladly hear opinions. I need to hear advice. I'm pretty good and figuring things out, but that one detail I miss could end up causing problems.

For example take these saddles. Aside from the side rings and the comfort, what makes them so special? They seem to cost a lot more than a rock harness which people do repel from and can safely handle falls. I can't understand why I have to buy a saddle at $150 or more. Maybe there is a good reason, but to me it just feels like the nice, comfy saddle might be an arborist thing.

Why can't you use a rock harness in a tree?

Let's start with that while I wait for this DVD to arrive. Once I see the techniques folks here started with I’ll be able to ask better questions and explain any variants I'm exploring.
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Harness and Lanyards for Beginner 1 year 6 months ago #137696

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I just want to add that I'm not dead yet, and I did go with a very basic climbing harness for now. It works fine, even on rope ascents. It isn't fancy, but I trust it for safety. Being a climbing harness it is actually meant to withstand big falls, which should hopefully never really happen in a tree.

One way or another I need a couple of basic and adjustable harnesses anyway. I can't do anything without my kids wanting to try it, so I figured that any cheaper harnesses I buy can become kids harnesses eventually. While not as comfortable as a proper saddle I do still trust them for fall protection.

I probably will get a better harness eventually. I can see how side ring lanyard attachments could keep some stuff away from the primary center attachment point. I still don't see buying anything too fancy or expensive. Not that I can't. It is just that I have a number of hobbies and can put money saved into some other fun activities.

Plus I've seen too many people that ought to have plenty of money struggle because of a mindset where they have to have "nice" things. Can't just have a bicycle that does everything you need it to, it has to be a "nice" bicycle that stands out in a crowd. Can't just buy a car to get around, it always has to a "nice" car, then complain about not having money and working till age 70.

I've learned to avoid falling into the trap of spending several times the cost of "perfectly functional," in order to get something "nice". That is why I can have a bunch of hobbies, take care of my family, let my kids do all kinds of stuff, and still not be owned by debts and finacial obligations.

I'll get a little bit more functional and comfortable harness or saddle eventually, but I probably won't ever buy a nice one.

Long story short, I'm convinced that rock harnesses can work fine for casual tree climbing and might be a way to save a little bit of money when getting into the activity.
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