I have found myself lately using the “V Rig” technique more and more when I’m working in a spread out tree or a tree with relatively low tie-in points. The V Rig technique is a neat little tool to have in your bag of tricks for when the tree decides to get you into those weird positions that you just can’t quite get comfortable in. After practicing this technique, I have found myself using it to get a better position while cabling, pruning, or even crane removals.
Working with Low Tie-in Points
To start, let’s think about a spread out tree with low tie-in points, something like a Box Elder (Acer negundo) or a Willow (Salix nigra). These trees have a decurrent growth pattern that usually makes them wider than they are tall, and when trees grow like this, the climbing can either be really fun and technical or it can be a major pain in the butt! So, when the tree is spread out, I will usually ascend up one side of the tree to my tie-in point for that side of the tree. I will tie-in with a Pulleysaver and then start working that side of the tree. The Pulleysaver is great because there is barely any friction at your tie-in point so movement out and in from limb walks is buttery smooth!
After working that side of the tree, I begin moving towards the opposite side. Usually there is another good tie-in point on the opposite side as well, so I set my sights on that and get over to it. Typically, I would pull up the tail of my rope and double tie-in with something like a Blake’s Hitch or another prussic so I can work the other side of the tree. This works great, but I find it to not be as smooth as the V Rig because you have two hitches to tend and it becomes too congested with all the carabiners and rope and all that stuff clipped into my bridge.
The next step is to install another Pulleysaver or some sort of friction saver into the other tie-in point. The Pulleysaver works best because, as stated before, there is almost zero friction at your tie in point. Once the Pulleysaver is installed, I take the spliced eye from my rope and pass it through the Pulleysaver just like I would if I was tying in any other day. I then clip this back to the carabiner it came off of, which should be in the middle hole of my Hitch Climber Pulley. Next, I clip a another carabiner into the top hole of the Hitch Climber Pulley and attach my rope to my second Hitch Climber Pulley, or any other pulley that is rated for life support, and finally clip this into the carabiner that is resting in the top hole. This makes my climbing system into a giant V between my two tie-in points; therefore giving me the V Rig climbing system!
The V Rig is nice when using two Pulleysavers because the friction is the same between your two tie-in points. I’ve used the V Rig technique with a Pulleysaver on one tie-in point and a natural crotch on the other, but it tends to bind up and pull you towards the natural crotch side of the tree. Usually, when the friction is the same, you can easily move down and through the tree as if you are on a single system. The other major advantage to the V Rig system is the fact that you only have one attachment point to your harness instead of multiple things clipped to your bridge like with a double tie-in.
Ideal for Cabling
The V Rig works great when cabling trees because your weight in the system will actually pull both leads of the tree together to help pretension what you are cabling. It also makes moving from one side of the tree to the other a breeze once the system is set up. When you want to move to the other side, all you have to do is grab the rope going through the top Hitch Climber and pull. This will let you traverse right across the tree without having to go all the way down and then back up to get to that point.
One of the other great things to use it for is crane work. If I have a low tie in point in the tree, but I need to get out to the end of a long limb to set my chokers, I’ll just use my tie-in point on the crane to be the opposite side of my V. This makes it super easy to get back to the base of the tree without wobbling all over the place with a really bad rope angle. When I’m all the way back to the base, I unclip my spliced eye and tend all that slack back into me then clip it back to my Hitch Climber. Simple and safe!
Extra Rope Required
You need to remember that you will be using a lot more rope with this system. Since your rope is up through two tie-in points and back to you twice, you’ll need 4x the normal amount of rope to make it all the way to the ground. This technique is better for moving in the canopy, then retrieving one Pulleysaver or friction saver, then descending to the ground. Your Pulleysaver can be retrieved the same as usual with your retrieval ball.
I highly recommend at least trying this technique out a bit on the ground to see if it would be useful for you. Being able to lean into two tie-in points can really make the difference when the trees are spread out and the limbs are long! So, throw a couple Pulleysavers up in the tree and give it a go!