“The guide will be useful to veteran and beginner alike”
There is currently a major revolution going on in tree climbing, coinciding fantastically with the release of the TCIA “Best Practices for SRT in Arboriculture.”
SRT techniques have been being utilised pretty much since climbing in a controlled, rope aided, manner began. Over the years, mostly through rock climbing and caving, SRT techniques and equipment progressed and eventually began being used in tree climbing. To begin with, it was used as an access system, utilising the benefits of 1:1 movement, ergonomics and efficiency. Once in the canopy, a changeover would be made to a traditional DdRT setup for work positioning. In the first part of the 21st century, climbers began to experiment with using SRT work positioning (SRTWP). Very quickly, SRTWP gear has progressed and it is now at a stage where several pieces of equipment are available on the world market, with popularity seemingly growing by the day.
Up until now, there has been no comprehensive guide, outlining safe practices and techniques. Those who have researched the topic will have found a lot of information online, most notably on arb related internet forums, though this information is rarely verified and most commonly based on individual personal opinion, without backing from industry bodies.
The TCIA, among others, obviously saw a need for one single document, based on experience, testing and verification, to encompass SRT in arb as a whole.
The guide begins with a grounding reminder of the dangers of complacency, stress and tiredness at work, very well placed to provoke a thought for every reader, especially those new to SRT.
In a clear concise format, the guide sets off outlining the history of SRT, outlining the basic premise, as well as comparing SRT/SRTWP to more traditional DdRT techniques. It moves on to touch on standard SRT equipment, then a quick glance at the often repeated, with good reason, pre climb inspection and hazard assessment.
These first few chapters set an excellent base for both experienced and novice SRT climbers. I would imagine that even veterans of the field would have learned something by now, particularly from the history of SRT section.
The book heads on to touch on rope angles, forces and loads. The majority of climbers will have some experience in understanding the physics of rope work and the forces they can create. Being as redirects are commonly used in SRTWP, it is essential for the climber to understand the consequential loading they can create with their rope configuration. The guide manages to put across clear information, without getting bogged down into the very complicated mathematics of the angles of dangle, as is commonly found in other descriptions of the subject.
Moving on through the practical application of SRT techniques, the guide covers many different anchor systems, access systems, work postioning tools, and the practical part of actually working the tree. All of the systems shown for each are given with a full description of their components, accompanied by detailed full colour photographs, their set up and use. Each has a brief list of their strengths and weaknesses, so the reader can quickly compare one setup to another.
Personally I was a bit sceptical about how thorough the guide was going to be, but when I received my copy I was very impressed with the culmination of the efforts of numerous people across several continents. The guide will be useful to veteran and beginner alike, and I’m sure everyone will learn something from it, which they can then put into practice and benefit from. I would thoroughly recommend to anyone interested in SRT to get themselves a copy, even if only for the access systems.
SRT may not be the be all and end all of tree climbing but this guide certainly makes the information available to put it on par with DdRT.