Innovators of Climbing Gear Tech
Climbers that love having the newest gear or using the most cutting edge techniques have more than likely already used a Singing Tree Rope Runner. However, for everyone else that maybe hasn’t seen one of these neat devices yet, or has had a chance to use one, let’s discuss what the Singing Tree Rope Runner is all about.
The Rope Runner was invented by Detroit’s own Kevin Bingham. Kevin is also the inventor of the Singing Tree Rope Wrench; a device that completely changed the tree climbing industry nearly 10 years ago. Before Kevin’s contribution to climbing gear tech, most climbers that were dabbling with SRT climbing would ascend on a single line and then switch over to a doubled rope system at the top. Kevin created a seemingly simple device that made it possible to ascend and immediately work while on a single line. It also allowed climbers to use gear they already had and were used to using so that the learning curve wasn’t quite as sharp.
After its introduction to the climbing world, the Rope Wrench spread like wild fire across the globe, allowing climbers from all different regions to climb and work position using SRT. When looking back at how this affected the industry, Kevin Bingham’s name should be right next to Jason Blake who introduced the Blake’s Hitch to the climbing industry. These ground shattering advancements changed the way that many of us climb today and will climb in the future! The last 10 years of advancements in tree climbing have been completely astounding for us as climbers.
The Rope Runner
Kevin is an inventor and tinkerer who continues to offer up great new gear and concepts for all of us in the industry. Following the Rope Wrench, Kevin’s next invention was the Rope Runner, which is a completely mechanical friction device used for SRT or DdRT climbing. Though the Rope Runner can look quite overwhelming to a new climber, all the same concepts are built into it like a typical SRT climbing system.
The device allows the climber to ascend the rope with virtually zero friction and grabs immediately when the climber sits back. One of the downfalls of the Rope Runner is moving out onto limb walks. By creating friction above your hitch, the Rope Runner actually holds too much of your weight and doesn’t allow you to move out on a limb when all of your weight isn’t on the device. This can become quite cumbersome when moving out onto limbs that are near even with your tie-in point.
Since the Rope Runner is completely mechanical, it can easily be depressed to let the rope fall right through the device making your limb walks friction-free. This should also be countered to warn that grabbing the device too quickly can give you quite the scare with a freefall like feeling!
The “Dirty 30”
Kevin produced the original batch of Rope Runner devices in a Tech Co-Op Shop in Detroit and the device quickly gained a cult following. The first batch was dubbed the “Dirty 30” by those that pre-ordered from Kevin. This original batch is still being used and loved by those that were fortunate enough to get one. Kevin also began taking orders that could be made with custom colored side plates to make each device completely individual to the user; this was a first for any manufacturer in our industry!
The Rope Runner is unique in that it can easily be put on the rope and a new climber can readily understand how the device works. Pull on the tail and it tends slack; sit back and it grabs; pull down on the top and the device goes down. Simple! This is a major draw to this device for climbers wanting to get into SRT climbing. A small tether made of throw line can be attached to hook into your chest harness for easy slack tending on ascent. It can also easily be adjusted for different diameter ropes with a wrench, which makes it more versatile than other SRT devices on the market.
Breaking Down the Rope Runner
A quick breakdown of the Rope Runner shows you that it’s made up of a few different parts. From the top, the “bird” as it’s been dubbed because of its looks, is where you place your hand to come down the rope. Some climbers have added Plasti-Dip to this to make it a bit more of a hand friendly shape. When the Rope Runner has weight applied to it and becomes engaged, the Bird produces a bend in the rope that creates friction. When the Bird is depressed, it releases the friction on the rope.
Next down is the bollard, which slightly pinches the rope between a pin and a flat piece of aluminum. This is the second place that creates friction on the device. When the climber tends slack or ascends up the rope, the bollard opens and allows the rope to move freely through the device.
Last is the pulley, which helps fairlead the tail of the rope into the device and also makes tending slack a bit easier.
There are also multiple double-locking slick pins on the device that make putting the device on the rope quite easy. Check out the video below on how to put the Rope Runner on your rope. Though this process may seem simple to a seasoned user, it can be a bit confusing when you first get your Rope Runner.
We would love to hear what you think about your Rope Runner! Do you love it or maybe you hate it?!?! Let us hear what you have to say in the comments below! Climb high and climb safe!