Lanyards are short pieces of arborist rope used to temporarily hold a climber in position, climb short distances, or provide a second attachment point for safety. The lanyard is a primary climbing tool. You have to have one if you are serious about tree climbing.
When you’re in a tree, figuring out which rope is going where can be confusing when your ropes are all close together. To make identification easier, have a lanyard with a different color than your long climbing rope.
Your lanyard needs to be a two-way system: you need to be able to go up with it and then go back down with it. Being able to adjust the length of your lanyard while it is loaded with your weight is very important for getting into the best throwing position.
The length of lanyard you use determines how versatile it is. If you use a short lanyard, say 10 feet or less, it will only be good for a temporary tie-in point or a close position setting. A lanyard of 25 feet or longer is called a motion lanyard. It will permit you to climb longer distances and provide you with more positioning opportunities.
Lanyards have come a long way since the cave man days of leather straps and double buckles. Pre-made ones come in a number of different configurations and lengths. Some have sewn or hand-spliced tight eyes on both ends that accept double action auto-locking carabiners. Others have locking snaps sewn in on both ends with an adjusting device (professional use). Some have a fixed mechanical ascender between the two ends, while others use a mechanical ascender and a sewn-in locking snap. New systems are being developed every year, too.
If you are new to tree climbing, a homemade lanyard is acceptable. All you need is a 25-40 foot piece of 11-13mm arborist rope with a termination knot tied at both ends to take a carabineer. Knots can then be tied (or a 6-wrap sliding Prussic loop can be used) to make this lanyard adjustable. There are other ways to make the lanyard adjustable; the right way is the one you understand and use regularly. As you get more skilled at tree climbing, you might want a pre-made lanyard that works more smoothly.
No matter if you’re climbing for fun or tree work, you must always use a bombproof setup that will provide complete safety hour after hour, climb after climb. Practice low to the ground first to get used to how you can use the new technology. Look at the videos and hang out with another climber who uses the system.
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