Swing and a physics lesson

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16 years 5 months ago - 16 years 5 months ago #126772 by moss
Swing and a physics lesson was created by moss
Sometimes the strongest learning experiences in climbing happen when mistakes are made.

As part of a volunteer effort in my neighborhood to help an elderly person deal with property maintenance I spent 2 days pruning trees and doing general yard clean-up work on her small property.

A small ornamental tree in her front yard is in decline but still has enough life in it to keep going for a few more years. It's branches are unsafe to support a rope so I put a rope up in an adjacent red oak and climbed in to the small tree to do the pruning. I used my lanyard to prevent uncontrolled swing from the small tree.

After the pruning was complete I started to climb out of the tree. I was 5 or 6 feet off the ground and had to slide down the trunk to get out. My lanyard was not long enough to keep it tied in. I checked my main rope visually to make sure there was enough slack, released my lanyard and moved down. Surprise! I hadn't given enough slack on the main rope. As I descended I was pulled off the trunk. I held on with my hands for a second but then figured my feet would hit the ground when I dropped. This was all very dynamic within split seconds and there wasn't time for serious consideration of what was going on. Ha! My feet didn't reach the ground. I was immediately hanging sideways and swinging across the small yard. I tucked my knees up towards my chest and got ready to plant my feet on the trunk. Quick plans are made to be changed, instead I hit a sapling Norway Maple with my shins. No major injury just a scraped shin and a bruised ego.

I've known theoretically how dangerous an uncontrolled swing could be. Now I know exactly how fast it can happen and what I need to be aware of to reduce the chance of it happening again.

Yours in safety,
-moss

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16 years 5 months ago - 16 years 5 months ago #126774 by charlieb
Replied by charlieb on topic Swing and a physics lesson
I thought you were tied in to an Oak. Why did you hit a maple?
What would you do to prevent an uncontrolled swing in the same situation?
I need to get into a similar situation possibly, in the near future and was just recently considering this, however I will be between two tall pecans and may not be so fortunate if something goes wrong.

Safe climbin.
Charlie Brown.

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16 years 5 months ago - 16 years 5 months ago #126775 by moss
Replied by moss on topic Swing and a physics lesson
There were two small maples growing close to the oak on the right side. I think I had some rotation during the swing and led with my shins into the maple.

My main mistake here was thinking that it was ok not to be tied in with a lanyard at all times to the tree I was climbing on while I was still attached to the rope from the taller tree.

I felt safe because I was so close to the gound but sometimes it's a matter of inches between safety and out of control. Best to keep everything tied in even when you feel like you're in a safety zone.

The other lesson was in experiencing the unintended swing. It's fast and all you can do is go for the ride. I'm fortunate that the forces involved were manageable.
-moss

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16 years 5 months ago - 16 years 5 months ago #126776 by moss
Replied by moss on topic Swing and a physics lesson
If you are going to be hanging between two trees, I assume for some kind of positioning that you need, you want to be confident that each tie-in point is solid enough to hold you on its own. If either lets go there is serious swing potential.
-moss

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16 years 5 months ago - 16 years 5 months ago #126777 by oldtimer
Replied by oldtimer on topic Swinging Man
Moss, I do not understand why you let go of your lanyard rather than giving more slack to your main line and move yourself down tied still with the lanyard to the small tree. There was obviously more rope available in the main line. Or did I missed something? I am glad that you made it down "ok" in one piece. I recently did something similar but standing on a Ladder and swinging away tied from the main line above. After I learned RTC I do not climb ladders without being tied to a climbing rope to something strong above. It is amazing how many people fall from ladders and seriously injure themselves.

Just Curious

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16 years 5 months ago - 16 years 5 months ago #126778 by moss
Replied by moss on topic Swing and a physics lesson
Hey Oldtimer, sorry it's a tough thing to communicate all the details of one of these incidents without writing a short novel.

If I was using a longer lanyard that's what I would've done. The tree I was in has multiple trunks/leaders spreading out at angles so I couldn't slide my lanyard down the trunk. My lanyard was too short to make it to the ground from the lowest crotch so I took it out. In this situation I should have detached the long rope and my lanyard and just slid down the short distance holding on to one of the trunks, the reverse of how I got into the tree. Being so close to the ground I wasn't thinking as critically and carefully as I try to when I'm higher up in a tree.
-moss

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