Getting back in the trees

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12 years 6 months ago - 12 years 6 months ago #131155 by happyhelmet
Getting back in the trees was created by happyhelmet
I'm recovering from a broken back from a fall last September.

Read about it if you want to.

Everybody tells me I shouldn't climb anymore, but none of them are climbers. I think I've learned my lesson and won't do anything like that again. My main issue is my loved one's fears and needs. Having a wife and kids who depend on me makes me think twice about going back up, but I have a real desire to keep doing it. I'm interested in getting climber's thoughts on this.
Last edit: 12 years 6 months ago by happyhelmet.

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12 years 6 months ago - 12 years 6 months ago #131158 by oldtimer
Replied by oldtimer on topic Re:Getting back in the trees
Man, You are a lucky person...... It definitely could have been worse! I wish you a fast recovery and be more carefull the next time. No point on puting blame. Something like this can happen to almost any climber at any time. Thanks for sharing the story on your web site. We all need to be reminded from time to time that we are not indestructible and most accidents take place close to home where we are more confident that we know everything. Hope that you are doing well now and have a full recovery.

Sometimes we take a great amount of time and care making sure all our gear is \"tested\" and meeting the best standards possible and them we forget that we are attaching that gear to a piece of lumber that who knows how strong it is or if it is even still alive.

We also forget that when you fall, there is only one speed of falling FAST and HARD. :blush:
Last edit: 12 years 6 months ago by oldtimer.

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12 years 6 months ago - 12 years 6 months ago #131160 by moss
Replied by moss on topic Re:Getting back in the trees
Thanks for posting your story, it takes courage to go public with a big mistake. Easy to call it that now, at the time the danger was not so evident to you.

A far as getting back to climbing, that's a tough decision, I have no doubt that you will be a safer climber. It's more about reestablishing trust for your wife and kids who may be more traumatized than you are. No easy answers, it will take some thought and time to figure it out.

If you haven't already it might make them feel better and improve your climb safety and tree assessment skills by taking a course with a qualified instructor. I'm not saying that every climber should take a climbing course but I will say that what I got out of it was a systematic way to think about climbing safely. Following some of the basic procedures taught in a BTCC would help to prevent you from getting as deep into trouble as you did just before the fall. I'll also say that I've made some dumb mistakes climbing, we all have.

Thanks also for posting the detailed account in your blog, it really helps all of us to read and understand the various decision points that led up to your accident.

Good luck moving forward,
-moss
Last edit: 12 years 6 months ago by moss.

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12 years 6 months ago #131161 by trailwatcher
Replied by trailwatcher on topic Re:Getting back in the trees
Moss and OldTimer covered the subject well. One of the thoughts that I use every climb is \" What If I do this --- what may happen? \" I try to work through the problem before it happens. Its easy to be a Monday morning Q.B. Just go slow and pray --- I do every climb. Thanks for your honesty and telling your story. I will use it in our next class.

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12 years 6 months ago - 12 years 6 months ago #131163 by moss
Replied by moss on topic Re:Getting back in the trees
I mentioned Eric's accident report on the TCC board, some good stuff has come out of it:
Rec climber serious injury
-moss
Last edit: 12 years 6 months ago by moss.

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12 years 6 months ago - 12 years 6 months ago #131164 by happyhelmet
Replied by happyhelmet on topic Re:Getting back in the trees
I'm glad I posted here. Thanks for all the insights and well wishes.

I tried registering on Canopy Chatter but it said my choice of username was disallowed. I tried about a dozen variations but got the same result. Please pass on my thanks to the posters there.
Last edit: 12 years 6 months ago by happyhelmet.

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12 years 6 months ago #131165 by spiritsk8
Replied by spiritsk8 on topic Re:Getting back in the trees
sorry to hear about your fall sounds like a case of bad luck i would know last year a 2x4 railing broke that i was leaning on a friends porch looking up in to his tree for a good branch i fell 10' on to a 5' picket fence and it impaled me under my right arm 4 hour surgery 36 stitches 12 on the outside and 24 on the inside and i am good as new i am glad to here that your better and still climbing also i had the same problem with canopy chatter [img size=150scar 2.jpg[/img] i dont know if i did the pix right?

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12 years 6 months ago - 12 years 6 months ago #131166 by spiritsk8
Replied by spiritsk8 on topic Re:Getting back in the trees
sorry to hear about your fall sounds like a case of bad luck i would know last year a 2x4 railing broke that i was leaning on a friends porch looking up in to his tree for a good branch i fell 10' on to a 5' picket fence and it impaled me under my right arm 4 hour surgery 36 stitches 12 on the outside and 24 on the inside and i am good as new i am glad to here that your better and still climbing also i had the same problem with canopy chatter
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Last edit: 12 years 6 months ago by spiritsk8.

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12 years 6 months ago #131170 by moss
Replied by moss on topic Re:Getting back in the trees
happyhelmet wrote:

I'm glad I posted here. Thanks for all the insights and well wishes.

I tried registering on Canopy Chatter but it said my choice of username was disallowed. I tried about a dozen variations but got the same result. Please pass on my thanks to the posters there.


I'm definitely glad you posted your report. Looking forward to climbing with you one of these days, maybe at the Rendezvous '08?

To register on TCC I think you're required (anti-spam strategy) to send an email to contactus@treeclimbercoalition they'll get you squared away.
-moss

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12 years 6 months ago - 12 years 6 months ago #131171 by happyhelmet
Replied by happyhelmet on topic Re:Getting back in the trees

moss wrote:To register on TCC I think you're required (anti-spam strategy) to send an email to contactus@treeclimbercoalition they'll get you squared away.
-moss


Thanks, dude!
Last edit: 12 years 6 months ago by happyhelmet.

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12 years 4 months ago - 12 years 4 months ago #131466 by treeman
Replied by treeman on topic Re:Getting back in the trees
Thank you for your detailed posting of your tree climbing injury. It was useful for the community to take a closer look at what happened so that hopefully we can avoid a future injury to ourselves and other tree climbers.

I agree with Moss on all of the cascading and decisions that ended in your fall. There were many decisions that led to your eventual fall and Moss listed them very accurately. We can all learn from the points Moss listed.

The branch looked like it had an old wound on the top side of the branch. Please correct me if I am wrong. The wound probably was a result of the tree breaking a branch from above and glancing off the branch that broke. The wound set up a decay column that extended to the connection. Trees naturally shed branches and you were the determining agent that hastened the process. You were of course on the far end of the lever arm too- risky business on even a healthy branch.

I would suggest you read a book or two about tree mechanics. “Stupsi Explains the Tree” by Claus Mattheck would be a good starter. It’s a cartoon style book by one of the foremost scientists on the subject of tree failure and mechanics. Not a lot of words but a lot of illustrations that explain important principals.

Study up! You will start climbing again eventually. You need to know the medium you are climbing intimately- the strengths and weaknesses of the trees you climb. There are many variables in trees but there are also many physical laws that keep trees standing that can easily be understood. Learning how to “read a tree” will not only keep you much safer but will fascinate you as well. It’s much akin to body language.

Keep us posted here on what you learn and start a conversation about what you are learning. I’m sure you will use your injury as a springboard to a much more expanded knowledge about trees and tree climbing.

One more point. Your photo of gear setup looked a bit complicated, especially for a self taught climber. Lots of parts (ropes) in the photo. The more complex the system, the more the links that can fail or malfunction. Beware of the number of gear choices and choose one that you use on a regular basis. Go very slow if you experiment with a new technique or tool. That new piece of gear or technique can kill you if misapplied.

You might buy my DVD, “Tree Climbing Basics”, if you have not already done so. It’s cheaper than a fancy carabiner with lots of safety practices and a section on tree inspection that describes ways to read a tree for hazards.

Waving from a treetop,
Peter Treeman Jenkins
Last edit: 12 years 4 months ago by treeman.

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12 years 2 weeks ago #131853 by treeweasel
Replied by treeweasel on topic Re:Getting back in the trees
HappyHelmet, I hope your recovery is still going well. And I am so glad I'm reading about this now. It really helps to warn me about how bad these falls can be. I took a tumbled off an 8' stepladder last fall, and man, it felt like I fell from a lot higher. I was sore for 3 weeks, but luckily nothing more serious. I can't imagine what a fall would do from higher. Whew!

How about those ants though, can you believe them? I mean, an ant can be right there with us on the same limb, 40' high. No ropes, no safety lanyard, nothing, blow him off the limb and he will consider it an amusement ride. He'll get back in line to go up again for the next ride. God is pretty clever and diverse with his creation.

BTW I couldn't get the link to your story to work. I wanted to hear specifically what went wrong and what went right (you did survive!)

Thanks,

TW

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12 years 2 weeks ago #131856 by happyhelmet
Replied by happyhelmet on topic Re:Getting back in the trees
Treeweasel, I fixed the link. The recovery is still going well, thanks, but I haven't done any real climbing yet. I hope to soon.

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12 years 2 weeks ago #131857 by treeweasel
Replied by treeweasel on topic Re:Getting back in the trees
HappyHelmet,

If you still have your \"happyhelmet\" you need to put some sort of notch on it. I think one of your lives has been used up, dude.

Thanks for fixing the link and for documenting the experience so well. The pictures really helped visualize what happened. Here's to those smooth catheter nurses! Some women just have what it takes. :O)

Man, I am glad I have been reading this stuff lately. I think I've been taking some unnecessary chances lately. I too am self-taught, well sort of; I did learn a whole lot from Peter's video.

Up until now, I would have to say I have unequivocally trusted the limbs I've been using. Now I'm going to think seriously about douple anchors. Although, I wonder if it might get dangerously confusing with two full length ropes. Is that what is meant by \"double tie-in points\"?

Lately, I was thinking about carrying a shorter length of rope say 30 feet and using it as a kind of long \"tie-in lanyard\" which in precarious positions I could throw to another anchor. Has anyone use such a method or am I looking for trouble with this idea?

TW

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12 years 2 weeks ago #131859 by Trebuchet
Replied by Trebuchet on topic Re:Getting back in the trees, w/ a PL...
TW, you mentioned, \"precarious positions\". Well, positively use a PL (Personal Lanyard). Check your oft-referenced SherrillTree catalog for what they often term a \"2-in-1 lanyard system\". You'll be glad you did. Also, have your read (and re-read) Jepson's \"Tree Climber's Companion\", 2nd Ed.? Very worthwhile. Buy it, if you don't own it. Read p. 37 for a reference and application. Also, visit the New Tribe website and review the \"Daisy rope\" option, then determine your preferred length for your lanyard, starting with it left long, daisy-chained when not in use, and only reduce its actual full length if you find you don't use a portion of it.

From the heart, good luck to the weasel-of-the-trees and to the one, at this point, who's helmet is at least happy. Take care!

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