In the Beginning
Isn’t rigging one of the most exciting things we get to do while working in trees? Devising a rigging plan to safely lower large limbs into small areas. Mapping out our rigging points to keep as much stress off the tree as possible. Deciding just how big to cut that next piece so it fits in the back yard without catching the service wire, fence, or clothes line. Best of all, throwing a notch in and waiting for the moment of weightlessness as the limb floats into the rope! Yeah, rigging is exciting!
I remember when I first started doing tree work. In fact, I remember the exact day. The first thing I did was drag brush. Lots of it! However, I also got to watch climbers doing some really cool stuff all day long. The most impressive thing I remember was watching guys rigging out huge limbs over the power lines and then maneuvering the limbs all the way to the ground. I remember exactly how big those limbs were because I was the one that had to drag them to the chipper! I also remember really wanting to one day be the person who was doing the rigging.
The company I worked for at the time did all of their rigging with 3-strand rope and natural crotch. Natural crotch rigging is really convenient because all you have to do is throw your rigging line over a limb and you have a rigging point. It’s simple and quick, but it does have its downfalls as well: 1) you are confined to the crotches available for your rigging point; 2) friction at your rigging point is very inconsistent. If you were to throw your rope over a limb in a Sycamore it would have far less friction than if you were to throw your rope over a White Oak limb or some other species with thick shaggy bark.
Never Stop Learning
Before acquiring knowledge about how much friction affects what we do while rigging, I thought that natural crotch rigging was the only way there was to rig limbs out of trees. Then one day I ran across treebuzz.com and began reading about other tree companies around the country that were doing all kinds of crazy rigging that I had never seen performed before. Climbers were using blocks, slings, and ropes that looked like climb lines for their rigging lines. At first I thought everything looked way over complicated. I could get the same thing done with just a rope and some wraps around the base of the tree instead of wasting my time putting all this stuff in the tree. However, I then started coming across trees while climbing that could have been rigged out much easier, had I some of the gear that these climbers were using.
One of the things that always struck me about using blocks in trees is that when I was all done removing some large limbs, I had to go all the way back up to where my rigging point was and get my block back down. This, however, was well before I had learned anything about SRT climbing. So it was pretty much body thrust or foot-lock all the way back up to the top of the tree just to retrieve that stupid block! So I went back to Treebuzz to see what I could find to help me make this easier and this is what I learned.
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Floating Rigging Point
There is a rigging technique called a Floating Rigging Point and it takes the block retrieval out of the equation. The setup is super simple and easy to understand. The first thing you will need to do is get a block, a larger diameter rigging line, and your normal rigging line. Next, set a line through your ideal rigging point. This may prove easier with a big shot if you are not comfortable at hand throwing. Once your throw line is set, you can pull the larger diameter rigging line into the tree; this is your Anchor Line. Once the line is through the tree, tie your block to the end of the anchor line that is through the tree. You can tie this off with a Bowline using a Yosemite tie off. The Yosemite tie off will keep the Bowline locked off and secure. The next step is putting your normal rigging line through the block and then pulling the opposite end of the anchor line. Make sure to hold onto your normal rigging line so that both ends stay on the ground with you! You can pull the block as far up in the tree as needed. I usually pull mine all the way up to the crotch that the anchor line runs through.
The next step is tying off your anchor line to the base of the tree. Typically, I will take 2-3 wraps around the base of the tree and then tie two half hitches around the anchor line. I then lock this off with an extra carabiner. You could also use an extra Port, a Wrap, or some other lowering device to lock of your anchor line. Once everything is locked off, you can start rigging with setup.
One thing to keep in mind with this new setup is the fact that the crotches that the anchor line passes over will see a multiplied force compared to a normal rigging point. It is good – and recommended – practice to pass your anchor line over multiple crotches to help spread the load throughout the structure of the tree. We touched on forces in rigging earlier and it is well worth reading over thoroughly. Technically, the weight of whatever you are lowering will be quadrupled at the highest point that your anchor line passes over. This is why it is better to pass your anchor line over multiple limbs whenever possible.
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Once you are done rigging, you can untie your anchor line from the base of the tree and pull it back down to you by pulling on both legs of your rigging line. Make sure to not redirect your rigging line, as this will make it almost impossible to retrieve the block when you are done. Give this rigging setup a try and see if it works for you! Hopefully it will take some of the extra work out of your everyday rigging and make your job faster and your rigging smoother!