Skip to content
BIRDIE! Rope Runner: A Climber’s Perspective.

BIRDIE! Rope Runner: A Climber’s Perspective.

Precision and efficiency, it’s something all arborists alike seek that not only meet their demands but exceeds them! Enter the Rope Runner Pro, a cutting-edge device that has redefined the art of ascent, descent, and movement in trees. The Rope Runner Pro has become quite the popular choice, revolutionizing the tree climbing experience with its innovative features and user-friendly design.

As many arborists begin expanding their skillset from only climbing moving rope systems to SRT, or by the newer-ish acronym SRS (stationary rope system), the Rope Wrench comes into play first before diving into any mechanical. This too was the truth for me, because for the longest time I was leery about mechanical devices and steered clear at all costs. That is until I was teamed up with another crew to work on a very large White Oak, and if you guessed he was climbing with a Rope Runner, you are correct. This was my first in-person exposure to the device, and I was taken back at how smooth and effortless he made it seem. So smooth in fact, I picked one up the same day!

CMI Rope Runner & Rope Runner Pro

Between then and now, there have been a few design differences between CMI’s Rope Runner and Notch’s Rope Runner Pro. I own and have climbed with both versions, and I do like the updated version (Rope Runner Pro) slightly better. The CMI Rope Runner design is great but the biggest flaw for me, dropping pieces of equipment (pulley and the bump [friction plate]) whilst installing on the rope. Yes, mid-line is great, but nobody wants to drop gear onto the ground, especially since our office is the great outdoors, and the ground isn’t always ideal. Early on, I did hear multiple people ask why the spring was exposed and not enclosed. Well, the open spring was left exposed for ease of inspection and to easily shake/ clean the debris from it, simple.

The Rope Runner Pro solved the loose hardware issue and made it easier to install onto the rope, so easy that it can be done in 4.4 seconds, crazy! Both slic pins that are located along the device are designed so they don’t fall to the ground. The edges of the Rope Runner Pro being rounded, as weird as it may sound, was the best design update for me. With the latter, pulling down on the bird for descent was not always my favorite; depending on rope diameter or “how broken-in” the bollards were, dictated how smoothly your descent or jump was. The smoother edges on the Rope Runner Pro are now ergonomically designed not to cut into your thumb, and pairing it with the adjustable bollard on the bird of the device. It is worth mentioning the bollards are now made to look like they have been broken in, the O.G's will know all about that! Another notable mention, the spring. The spring is now encased into the spine of the Rope Runner Pro, making it look sleeker and space aged. However, there was an issue with the springs for a few batches and as to what the culprit was causing it, debris build up and incorrect spring set. See, in the first models, there wasn’t a clear way to inspect or lube the spring until the issue arose. The manufacturer mass recalled the affected models from distributors and customers, followed by shipping out new Rope Runner Pro’s as they were revamped. To find out if you have an older or new model (aside from the serial number), locate the spine of the device and towards the spine (where the bird hinges) you should see a small hole. That is your cleaning and lube port for the internal spring.

My Tips

These are small little tips that have helped me become more fluid and efficient while working with the Rope Runner Pro.

  • The stainless steel slic pin is located on the bird; adjust it so when your dominant hand applies pressure to the bird for descent, the section of the slic pin protruding from the bird does not make contact with your hand. It’s a minor switch that will save your thumb from lacerations. Both of my friends and I were victims of the slic!
  • The SRS/SRT attachment point, never leave a mini carabiner attached to it. It doesn’t seem like much but were there one attached and slack tending were happening, the mini carabiner is the perfect size to catch the bird and prevent it from engaging.To remove this possible hazard, enter the Magneato! It's such an ingenious design that it has been added to all of my Rope Runner Pros!
  • Dropping through redirects and not dropping the fall of your rope through the redirect could be cause for concern. The weight of the rope could cause the device to not engage. So, a genius answer that I seen on Insta; attach a DMM Revolver to the same attachment ring on the bridge, beneath the Rope Runner, follow that by catching the fall of the rope. Now, when you jump into your redirect and descend, the fall of the rope won’t catch the spine of the Rope Runner. It’s simple but genius and like I always say, it’s the little things that surprise me more!

The Rope Runner Pro has and continues to exceed my expectations and is one of my favorite tools to climb trees with! Yes, the device has had some hiccups, and you’d think this would send people running for the hills, but it is regarded as one of the best devices on the market. You have to consider this; everything will have its flaws and the possibility to fail. Even a Blake’s or Taunt can fail! But here are some positives; both versions of the Rope Runner have replaceable parts: the bump (friction body), all slic pins, and the bollards. Which means the device can outlast others.

But the Rope Runner Pro is too long and will hinder how I work spars… Having used the Runner on removals, I have not encountered this issue. There is always a way to position oneself correctly, it’s just taking the time to get comfortable in an uncomfortable spot. We put this unperceived time expectancy on ourselves that positioning can get overlooked, don’t do that to yourself! With any new trick, technique, or tool, familiarize yourself with it low to the ground. Climb safe!

Previous article Utility Line Clearance Tree Trimming
Next article We need it! A guide to maintaining your rope.

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields