By David McNeill © 2020 McNeill’s Tree Service
Previous blogs, Tools of the Trade and Stationary Rope System (SRS) Components itemized the tools I have found suitable for our jobs and my climbing style. In this blog, I would like to point out some of the idiosyncrasies that have made them my choice or contributed to when I use which one. There are always pros and cons with any system or tool. You will determine your own list. But here are some on mine.
Hitch Hiker 2 (HH2)
There are many desirable features which have made this tool my “go to” choice for an ascender aka multicender. These features include its indestructibility, reliability, compact size, and smooth operation on all ropes. In addition, it does not bend the rope to create friction. This last point is unique as all other multicenders bend the rope as part of their friction control.
Probably its best features are it is fast and easy-on/easy-off the rope and it is small and compact. The ability to take it off and on the rope quickly with no parts to drop or pins to pull is very desirable if the tree you are climbing requires multiple redirects. However, it is a bit fussier on the rope you choose. And whereas it is extremely “climbable”, you do have to pay more attention to tension and precision in use.
Some people have commented the Akimbo is a bit awkward to thread. Here is what I do. Please note: This is not adjusting it for friction, it is just loading the rope.
Opening the Akimbo as shown in the photo above, I hold it with my thumb and finger as shown in the next two photos below.
From the open position, I bring the rope into the top bollard opening; directionally, I am threading the rope away from my body (see next photo below)
then I bring the tail back towards me into the bottom bollard opening (see photo below).
Now, all that is required is to close the Akimbo, slide it up the rope and you are ready to clip in and go. Quick and simple.
Rope Runner Pro: The new kid on the block.
I wasn’t pleased with the first-generation Rope Runner due to factors it possessed that didn’t suit me personally. I didn’t like how it felt in the hand; i.e., sharp straight edges with big bolts sticking out all over. In addition, the first gen Rope Runner had parts you had to take off, hold and reinstall if redirecting in the tree. The possibility of dropping those small parts was too great. I have already mentioned overuse injuries, Overuse Injuries and the Necessity of Working Smart, and the limitations with my hands.
All of my concerns about the first gen RR were resolved in this new version. And, so far, I am VERY impressed. It has no parts that need to be removed for line installation. It has three slick pins that are retracted but not removed entirely so nothing to drop. Everything can be done while it is still clipped to your bridge. It also works well on every rope I have tried to date. It is a big tool and, I believe, it is particularly great for trees requiring big movement.
Use of these versatile multicenders allows accessing tree canopies with minimal shock-loading of tie-in-points IF set up and used correctly. Each of these tools has specific handling characteristics and idiosyncrasies that need to be learned for safe use. As with all tools of the trade, read the manuals carefully and, remember, start off low and slow when becoming familiar with new devices and learning new techniques.