I would like some practical and ethical guidance on the clearing of living branches from wild sitka spruce as are they only practical climbing option I have so far. I'm speaking specifically of the small branches (~1-2 inches)that sprout from the trunk around larger limbs. Quite often they seem to grow in clusters that form an inpenetrable barrier for my level of experience. My intent is to clear an ascent route to access the higher parts of the tree.
Another characteristic of Sitka's are an abundance dead limbs ranging from small to very large. However, the trees are large enough to have fairly clear ascents in some trees. I've included a picture of "Big Mamma" (160' Sitka)as an illustration.
Any suggestions or guidance offered would be appreciated.
Those little epicormic branches are important spare parts for the tree. Leave them if you can. Work around them while climbing.
Dead parts are also important to the tree ecosystem. I recommend making some safety breaks of branches along your route that you might dislodge. Just use your boor or hands to break the branch off leaving a sturdy stub.
To reduce impacts find a good anchor spot and leave a string in the trees you climb often. Pick a route where you can work around the epicormics. Set the rope out from the trunk if you can.
I may be out side the norm saying this...but I strongly urge rec climbers in wild trees to do no pruning with a saw. Leave the tree looking natural!
Like it or not all tree pruning is really for people...not for trees. They are quite capable of pruning themselves.
Hope this helps...I know of some huge Sitka's in OR hope you find more! Scott