I'm a self-taught tree climbing beginner. I've done several climbs, all using the DdRT, with a split-tail system, using a Blake's hitch, tying the climbing line to carabiner with a double fisherman's. I put slipknots in the climbing line every 6 feet or so. I try to really take my time, and while I'm happy with my safety practices, I feel like I could always use more.
One thing that seems like would help with safety is having two simultaneous doubled-rope setups; if one branch breaks, at least you are still double-roped to another branch. It seems like from the Tree Climber's Companion that this method is used to move around the tree anyway. My question is: does anyone use two TIPs always, just as a matter of safety? It would obviously take longer to set up, but maybe it's worth it. And do you use two climbing ropes? Or just one, with one half of the rope over one branch, and the other half of the rope over the other branch, with the saddle connected to the middle of the rope?
The way I look at it is, I won't hang my life on a limb unless I have confidence in it. On a first ascent of a new tree I tie into a large limb, once I'm up in the tree i can inspect more closely for any gotchas not visible from the ground. Once I've inspected the upper parts of the tree closely I can make a more accurate assessment of what is safe to tie into and what isn't for that particular tree. In other words I don't rely on a second climbing rope/redundant tie-in but I'm cautious for a first ascent.
However... If I'm in a situation where there's something about the tree that's spooking me I'll put my lanyard around the the trunk or over limbs on the way up as a back up. It wouldn't be pretty if my primary tie-in limb broke but at least I wouldn't go to the ground.
All that said nothing wrong with climbing on two tie-ins. As you said, it will add considerable time managing rope.
As a beginner it takes time to understand the wood strength of different tree species. And it also takes time to learn to do good assessment of the health of the overall tree and it's individual parts. Take it slow, be conservative, in time you will gain increasing confidence in your assessment skills.
thanks. Yeah, I think tree-strength reading is perhaps my biggest weakness right now.
But you know, I realized, after I posted above, that maybe two tie-in points are worse in some ways; if either branch breaks, then perhaps the resulting situation is very bad: you're hanging from one good branch, but you've possibly got one heavy broken branch still tied to you, pulling you downwards and perhaps severely overstressing your saddle.
Moss covered it nicely, but a few more points. I will often use a second tie in (sometimes the other end of the rope, sometimes another rope all together) for security and mobility. In wet or slippery trees the second tie in serves to triangulate you.
Many time going out a limb is the easy part! Getting back is often more challenging. Here a second tie in is a great benefit. Positioning a second tie in with a rope toss while in canopy is a skill you will want for may reasons. So in short in most cases when I use a second tie in it is temporary and not maintained for the whole climb unless needed.
Having said all that, my climbing style has evolved to include longer lanyards that are short mirrors of my primary system. This way I have the ability to secure with a second tie in by simply moving my lanyard from the side "d" rings to a frontal suspension point. For me this has proved the most versatile.
here the orange line is my lanyard, the green my climbing system
Moss's point about using a lanyard when not feeling comfortable is great. I would add, that as you are learning and developing your skills, form a habit early when it comes to lanyard use. The habit is this; as you are in canopy don't ask yourself if you should use your lanyard, ask yourself why you would not!
Tree dude, good point at the end about lanyard usage. I first learned to climb on the job. Lanyard use was a matter of course. I can't imagine climbing without it. Especially if one uses a split tail system, you can double lanyard your way quickly up sections that have close branching. Just like zipping up a ladder.