It's time to add a friction saver to your gear bag! Climbers have been throwing their ropes over limbs and around tree trunks for centuries. Unbeknownst to them, unfortunately the cambium layer of the trees experience abusive amounts of friction that can actually crush the cambial tissue as well as wear the protective bark off, leaving the cambium exposed to pests and other pathogens that can cause harm to the trees.
A friction saver will stop you from hurting the tree as you try and care for it and will also improve your climbing experience. We all know that one downfall to a natural crotch tie in point is the added friction to your climbing system. When the rope is set over a limb and around the trunk of the tree, there is a huge amount of friction that is very inconsistent. If you are tied into a natural crotch in a Beech Tree compared to a Shag Bark Hickory, you will very easily see and feel the difference.
By using a friction saver, whether it be a Buckingham Friction Saver, FimbleClimb, Fimbl Saver, or a PulleySaver, you are guaranteeing a consistent amount of friction at your tie in point. When you have consistent friction, you have a more efficient climbing system. Friction savers let your rope run through steel or aluminum rings or over a pulley sheave. This can make ascending into the tree and rope management much easier because you don’t have to fight the friction at your tie in point.
Ring and ring friction savers can be set from the ground with a throw line with a bit of practice. Start by isolating a suitable limb for your tie in point. Isolating means to have your throw line over just that limb with nothing in between the throw line all the way to the ground. Next, take the far end of your throw line and pull it all the way through the large ring of the friction saver. Now take the end of your throw line that lowered out of the tree and untie the throw bag. Pull 1 foot of throw line through the small ring of the friction saver and tie your throw bag back onto the throw line. Now pull the far end of the throw line that was pulled through the large ring. This will lift the throw bag that is through the small ring into the tree. When the friction saver gets close to the tie in point give it a quick jerk and watch the friction saver flip over the isolated limb. now the throw bag can be lowered back down to the ground. Tie the spliced eye or end of your climb line onto this end of the throw line and pull your rope back up and through the friction saver.
The most important thing to know about putting your rope through a friction saver is to ALWAYS put your rope through the small ring first! When you want to retrieve the friction saver, all you need to do is attach a retrieval link to your spliced eye or terminating end of your climb line. As long as you put that end through the small ring first, the retrieval link will go up with your rope, pass through the large ring, catch the small ring and pull the friction saver out of the tree.
If you are working near a house or a driveway you can also attach a throw line to the retrieval link. This will allow you to lower the entire friction saver to the ground without it falling uncontrolled. Don’t ever let your friction saver fall out of the tree and onto concrete and always be aware of what is in the path of a falling friction saver.
Friction savers also help your ropes last longer because they are not being ground into the bark of the tree all day long. The rings keep the heat down and reduce the amount of glazing on your rope as well. Dirt and other small particles break down the fibers in your rope over time and separating your rope from the dirty bark is a great way to make your rope last longer.
Pick up a friction saver and try it out today. I’m sure you will enjoy the consistent friction while heading up and heading down as well as the added lifespan of your ropes.
Do you have a favorite friction saver?
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