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When all else fails (bare minimum safe ascension on single rope)

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I had my first crack at tree climbing last winter, and, being in no way an experienced arborist, had only my rock climbing skills to apply. I do boulder and sport climb, but it was the trad lead climbing skills that seemed to help with the tree work.


I chucked my lightest mountaineering rope up through the highest crotch I could reach, and tied the bitter end off around the base of the tree with a figure of eight and stopper knots, as if I was tieing into my climbing harness. To climb the rope I used two prussik loops. One on a short sling to my belay loop on the harnes, and the other on a long sling in which I stood with one boot. Once I was up in the bit of tree I needed to work on, I used quick-draws and slings to anchor myself in place. I climbed beyond that first crotch and then clipped the rope to higher anchor points using additional slings and quick-draws.


It must be clear that I've got no specialist training, but this is the method I came up with for climbing the tree in what I thought was a safe manner.


To you experienced climbing arborists, what piece or selection of gear would you resort to climbing and descending a tree with a single rope if all other gear fails or is not available? i.e. what is the most minimal necessary equipment you could safely get away with for climbing a tree?



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21 minutes ago, Dan Maynard said:

You can make a climbing system from just a rope and biner by tying what is known as "3 knot system".

Second system can be made from the tail end of the same line, so minimum would be a harness, rope and two biners.

It's not productive though so nobody in the last 20 years would be that daft.

Thanks Dan. It's hard to find this info when you don't know what to search for. I'll save that 3 knot system for later.


My two prussiks method was something taught for getting out of a crevase one mountaineer might've fallen into.

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3 minutes ago, Dee MacThomas said:

In what way is the setup not suitable? It was a 9 mm Petzl Volta rope and 6 mm cord for the prussiks that I was using.

He's saying the 3 knot system isn't suitable with your rope.


Rope for tree climbing should be 11-13mm. It tends to be way more static than the fall arrest line you'll be using too.

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3 hours ago, Joe Newton said:

He's saying the 3 knot system isn't suitable with your rope.


Rope for tree climbing should be 11-13mm. It tends to be way more static than the fall arrest line you'll be using too.

 It not just the diameter but the construction. Mountaineering rope is nylon and not designed to be used in a friction based climbing system. Hence the op described the system he was taught for emergency use. Prusiks just wouldn’t be used in nylon rope otherwise. 

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