Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tree Climbing Part I

Tree Climbing  - Sheva Apelbaum

This summer, I’ve spent a lot of time climbing trees. “Why,” you ask? Because I had to! If you are wondering why anyone would have to climb a tree, let me explain.

Last year my dad and I finished building our tree house (which also happens to be the headquarters of “The Time Trap” fellowship—more about their adventures in future blogs). For various security reasons, you can only access our tree house (which is 14 feet above ground) by one of the following methods:

  1. a 2” rope
  2. a retractable telescoping aluminum ladder
  3. a rope ladder
  4. an 11mm climbing rope using ascenders

When climbing up to the tree house, we usually use the telescoping aluminum ladder. Recently however, I decided to perfect the other 3 access methods as well.

When I first tried climbing up the rope ladder and the 2” rope, I found that they were much more difficult than I imagined. I also found that using ascenders was a real challenge!

With a lot of practice, I developed several tricks for how to quickly and safely use these entrances. In the following three part blog, I will share some of my discoveries and tricks as well as general safety tips.

Safety First

Climbing on rope or ladders can be dangerous. You can easily fall or get cuts, bruises, rope burns, and splinters. Since certain trees can be really tall (some of our oak trees are over 50 feet high), you should plan everything carefully and have a knowledgeable adult present at all times (feel free to borrow my dad; he loves climbing trees and tying ropes).

Here are some golden rules for climbing trees:

  1. Think twice before acting and go slowly!

  2. Get trained by an expert on how to use your equipment. Don’t try to “figure it out” by yourself

  3. Only use equipment especially designed for climbing. For example, never use general purpose hardware like carabineers, pulleys, or marine ropes. Even though they may
    look like mountaineering equipment, climbing gear is specifically rated for falling and safety

  4. When repelling, always wear proper shoes, a shirt and pants, a harness, helmet, and gloves

  5. Never jump from unreasonable heights (higher than your own height)

  6. Before climbing, perform an equipment check on the ground to make sure that everything is fully functional.

  7. If you notice wear and tear on you gear (for example stitches coming apart), replace it and stop using this equipment immediately

  8. Only attach the rope to tree limbs that can support several times your body weight. The rope rigging and attachment should be done by an experienced adult who then should verify the limb’s suitability by suspending himself first

  9. Never place the rope or webbing on sharp surfaces

  10. Make sure that all your equipment fits you properly before starting the climb (nothing is more annoying than a discovering in the middle of the climb that your harness is too tight or too loose)

  11. Take sure there aren’t any electric lines near the trees as touching one of these can get you electrocuted

  12. Do not climb during thunderstorms or rain (wet rope does not work as well)

  13. At all times have a scout on the ground who can assist you and if need be call for help

  14. Before touching the tree, inspect the vegetation around it for poisons plants like poison ivy, poison oak etc.

  15. Use sunscreen and spray yourself with insect repellent to deter mosquitoes and ticks.

Climbing Collagu  - Sheva Apelbaum

Even though at first it may seem that tree climbing requires a lot of preparation and you have to follow a bunch of complicated rules, it is a blast and it’s worth all the effort.

In my next blog Tree Climbing Part II, I will discuss climbing trees using a 2" rope .

1 comment:

  1. That looks thrilling, and you look completely the professional! You explain it in an interesting and comprehensive way, too! I'm so excited to learn about the next part! BTW, I love your banner and blog name!