Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tree Climbing Part II

Rope Climbing  - Sheva Apelbaum

In my last blog post (Tree Climbing I), I covered some of the general points of tree climbing and provided a list of what I consider to be the most important safety tips.
In this blog (part 2 of 3) I will discuss the specific methods I use and some tricks I discovered when climbing a 2” three strand rope up and down my tree house.
Climbing Up When I first tried to climb a rope, I discovered that it was more difficult than I imagined. I couldn’t even lift myself more than a few feet off the ground.
My mom, watching my failed attempts, came to the rescue and demonstrated how to climb up using arms only (she’s pretty strong). She said that the secret to climbing with your arms is to first develop a rhythm and keep on moving (she also said that doing at least 100 pushups a day would definitely help).
I tried her trick but I wasn’t strong enough to lift myself with my arms only. During all of my climbing attempts, my dad was making all kinds of clever comments, like "what are you trying to do, Sheva?" and "Be careful not to hurt the rope!"
So then I challenged him to climb up the rope. Dad’s a big, tall guy, so I thought that he would be too heavy to succeed, but he grabbed the rope and climbed all the way up. When he got back down, he told me that when he was in the military, they used to practice climbing ropes the same way I do now but they did it with a lot of equipment.
His advice was to use a combination of arms and feet. I tried using this method and found that it worked better for me. I practiced for several days and improved my technique. Now I can easily climb all the way up the tree house quickly and with almost no stops.
Here are my step-by-step directions:
  1. Stand in front of the rope (it should be an inch or two from your forehead)
  2. Lift both hands over your head (as high as you can) and grab the rope with both hands with the right hand over the left
  3. Lift yourself as high as you can with both arms
  4. While you hang there, lift your legs with your knees to the sides and soles together placing the rope between the insteps of your shoes
  5. Lock your feet around the rope and push upwards while at the same time lifting your hands over your head again and then repeat step 2
  6. Continue repeating steps 2 and 5 until your reach the top
  7. If you need to take to take a break in the middle, you can wrap the rope around one of your legs (at least 1.5 turns and then step on the wound up rope with your other foot)
Climbing Down Climbing down a 2” rope is very similar to climbing up with the only difference being the order of your hand and foot motions. When descending, you first lock your feet around the rope, then lower your hands and hold the rope chest height. Repeat these steps until you reach the ground.
Safety Tips
I have found that if you are not careful you can easy to get blisters. So these are a few suggestions for maximizing the gain and reducing the pain.

  1. Never slide down the rope. Sliding down even a short distance can give you rope burns
  2. Never jump from the rope mid air, you can hurt yourself landing
  3. Before starting your climb, make sure the rope is clear of any branches or obstructions
In my next blog Tree Climbing Part III, I will discuss climbing trees using a rope ladder.

That’s it, now go and have fun!


  1. Awesome blog post!!! :D
    I would defentiely hurt myself if I climbed a tree, I am a bit clusmy at times hehee! ;)

  2. Those instructions are very well explained...I feel almost certain that would I try I could succeed, with your brilliant and succinct (did I spell that right?) explaination! I would like to try, and will look for a tree with a rope attatched. We have very tall trees in our yard, and I always have wanted to climb up to the bat house!

    I'm looking forward to the next post :-)