I shudder to think of the climbing gear I started out with many years ago. My tree saddle was a reconstituted P.G.& E. lineman’s belt with a chunk of 3/4” poly plus 3 strand rope butt-spliced and a couple bowlines tied in for leg loops! A cast non-locking horse hitch snap in front and an old discarded “d” ring on the end of a 120’ 1/2” manila climb line and up I went…
How things have changed! A quick look at the latest tree climbing gear catalog is a mind-numbing array of every kind of gizmo in every color of the rainbow imaginable.
How about a gas-powered device that actually pulls you up a rope? Check. Resistographs to determine the extent of decay in a tree? Check. Four and a half pages of carabiners? Check. Whoopie slings, Loopie Slings, Speedline slings? Check. Check. Check.
The recreational tree-climbing craze has a lot to do with amount of toys and tricks we tree people have become addicted to. Hooray for us, I guess. BUT…
The way we look at trees and the way we work in trees has changed drastically in the last 30 or forty years while trees themselves haven’t really changed that much.
All the newfangled fancy gear I plunk my hard earned money down for won’t make up for a mistake I might make.
I have learned the hard way to keep it as simple as possible! The more distractions on the job means less attention paid to the matters that matter!
All of the gear we climb and rig with, is really just a means of gaining the upper hand on a force we call gravity. Gravity has stayed the same and will always stay the same. You would think it would be simple to outsmart something that does the same thing every time. HA!
A very wise man once told me “ Boy, it ‘aint the fiddle, its the fiddler…”
I can attest to that, as I have seen some climbers in my day that could do the most amazing things, with gear I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy!
There are some tricks of the trade that when done with speed might look like an illusion that would baffle any magician out there!
I try to keep my bag of tricks as small as my attention span for good reason.
Figuring out what a tree might need can be a whole lot harder than figuring out how to pull it off when you do.
I would hope that the forward progress of the industry doesn’t leave good old-fashioned horse sense behind. There are up and coming tree people that are just plain damn good! And there are tree people out there that have pretty much been doing it wrong their whole lives. I am fortunate enough to have worked with the best people in the trade, and hopefully some of it rubbed off on me. I guess the time to hang it up will be when I stop learning…