CLIMBING ROPES

By: Sylvia McNeill © 2021 McNeill’s Tree Service

This blog introduces the Samson 11.8 mm Tangent Climbing Rope as David’s new preferred ‘go to’ climbing rope.  For those of you who may be reading your first post here, David is David McNeill, owner and climber at McNeill’s Tree Service. 

Over the years, David has seen tremendous development and evolution in this essential component for professional tree climbing and, consequently, has used many different types of ropes.   As with all tools in our industry, anything and everything you can do or use to make a job easier and safer is well worth considering.  In the end, the final choice comes down to personal preference and ‘what works for you’. 

Our industry standards give specifications denoting suitable rope characteristics for arborist climbing lines.  These include what materials they should be constructed from, minimum breaking strength, maximum working elongation, and minimum diameter.  The manufacturer of the rope shall identify the rope as being suitable for tree climbing.  There are also specifications for knots, loops and hitches.  For specific information I refer you to the ANSI Z133 2017 Safety Requirements for Arboricultural Operations which can be found on Tree Care Industry Association’s website, our national tree care association.

Specific criteria David looks for in a rope are knot-ability, is the rope soft and pliable enough to be easy to tie and hold the knot securely; strength, can it handle the job at hand; weight, remember you are lugging this rope around with you through the tree – at the end of the day, ounces add up; visibility, you HAVE to be able to see your rope readily ALL the time.  What color that translates to is going to depend on your work environment, climate and even your eyesight.  What is highly visible to one person may not be to another.  Be advised, this is NOT a super static rope as is preferred by many stationary rope technique climbers today.  David prefers some give in his ropes.

Rope on the left has been in service for awhile. Rope on right is brand new.

In the link provided to Treestuff.com above you will see a brief write up.  It states this rope is designed for modern arborists referencing compatibility with SRT, Stationary Rope Technique, climbing that fits perfectly with mechanical devices.  This is David’s preferred climbing method. Stationary Rope System (SRS) – Techniques and Tips.  I found the comment regarding how suitable it is for footlocking rather interesting right after saying this rope was designed for modern arborists.  Footlocking was originally used as a technique for canopy access and movement within the tree.   Today that job is more often accomplished by foot and knee ascenders.   This suitability illustrates the versatility of this rope.

All ropes have idiosyncrasies that may make it the perfect choice for one application and, perhaps, totally unsuitable for another.  Pay attention to all information supplied as well as specific nuances that make it suitable, or unsuitable, for your application in order to make an informed choice.   For example, it is important to note Samson does not recommend having two splices put on this rope due to rope milking issues.

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