With any new technique in the arborist industry, we as climbers should take the time to learn about these new techniques and pursue training if need be. At the Bartlett Arborist Supply Open House held in March, many times as an instructor I am asked about SRT climbing and how it differs from traditional climbing techniques. I’ll be the first to admit that I am a bit biased when it comes to this question as I am whole heartedly in love with climbing SRT. So without further ado I will attempt to give a breakdown of the advantages of SRT work positioning without going off on too many tangents explain how awesome it really is and how hard traditional techniques are once you go over to the dark side!
Many of the climbers I’ve worked with over the years all tend to do the same thing when it comes to trying out new things. First they will say that nobody needs that crap. After they see something that really stands out to them they tend to want to try it. Secondly they try it for one climb or maybe even just part of a climb and, being a tough guy, will say that its dumb and doesn’t work if they don’t get it perfectly right off the bat. Then you have the one guy, the one that is really willing to keep trying something even if it didn’t work out the first time. Those are the ones I strive to work with.
So with that out in the open, I will say that SRT work positioning is very awkward at first. Limb walks are the worst. I personally was a big fan of grabbing both legs of rope when coming in from limb walks when I climbed double rope, creating slack in my system all the way in until I reached a safe spot to stop and tend my slack. If you climb like this, you are in luck! When returning from a limb walk SRT the rope doesn’t move like we are used to. Instead of pulling one leg of rope and tending the slack out, the SRT rope just doesn’t move, it’s STATIC! So the climber is forced to think a bit more when performing limb walks. When going out on the limb I find it easier to slow down near the tip, not quite giving yourself enough rope and then easing into it opposed to going out on the limb and then tending the slack out of your system. By doing so you can actually become a much smoother climber with less wasted effort. We all know that wasted effort equals wasted time and that equals wasted money. No one wants to waste money!
Some other things that really stand out when work positioning while climbing SRT is the ease of redirecting your rope for better rope angles. Redirects while climbing double rope in the past tended to be such a drag, not only speaking about friction but also in retrieving the said redirect. Since our rope doesn’t move we can easily pass our rope through a natural crotch and our rope is redirected. This works out best when moving out onto a long drooping limb walk. More times than none we tend to put up with really bad rope angles because redirecting our rope means putting up with too much friction. If we can easily pass our rope through a union above the said limb walk, we can have a rope angle that leaves us with easy movement out onto the limb walk without a thought in our mind of falling off that limb and swinging back into the tree. We all want the highest tie in point when climbing right? We want a high tie in point because it gives us good rope angles throughout our climb. If we can keep redirecting our rope then we can maintain good rope angles!
Some people may ask “what if we don’t want to stay redirected through that exact union?” Easy! By passing your rope through the union but not pulling your tail through you can easily do the work, lanyard in and then either untie everything off your rope or tie a slip knot below your climbing system and attach it to your terminating carabiner. You can then pull the tail of your rope that didn’t pass all the way through the redirect and pull your entire system back through the crotch and back to you. This is an extremely useful tip for dead wooding trees.