Safe Spar Anchors and Tie-In Points
Once the canopy is removed and all my positive rig points have been eliminated, now it's time to do some negative rigging! In other words, butt-hitching. Not only have my rigging anchors been removed, but my main TIP is gone too, so how do I safely continue my spar work?
In these instances, we need to find alternative means of being secured to the spar. From my personal experience, butt-hitching can be the most difficult part of the tree removal process. This being because you won't have a solid TIP, which can force climbers into awkward positions. Not to mention we have to lug around a ground saw at this point and depending on the size of the spar, it can be a 660 with a 36” bar or bigger if you’re taking down beasts! You could use two work positioning lanyards as a means to secure yourself, but in case of an emergency your mode of egress is shot. The question now remains, how do I tie-in if all of my anchor points have been removed as part of my removal process? Down below, I’ll cover a few of the possible means to secure yourself with a mode of egress or bail out. There are few methods to creating a secure tie-in and then incorporating our work positioning lanyard when we begin our spar rigging operations. Before we dig into that, let me share a super close call that prompted me to find safer ways to work.
I was fairly green when this happened, and I share this so people may learn off of my mistakes. I had gone up to finish butt-hitching some logs from the day before and only took my lanyard with me. When I blew out the section, I hadn’t realized the rigging line contacted my poorly-placed lanyard and had melted it about three-quarters of the way through! This really opened my eyes and I began looking at safe means of working the spar.
“Well, why can’t I just work off of two lanyards, one above and one below?”, -is a common question. My response is always the same: how are you going to bail out in an emergency? From there on, I always try to find safe, effective ways of completing my task that has been given. In the event of an emergency, having a system already pre-established can help lower the victim safely in what can be a time sensitive rescue. Rescues where you have to establish a tie-in for the victim can take double the time to perform, involves more gear and opens the room for error in a heart pounding situation. It’s better to be over prepared than underprepared!
What I really love about this topic is the engagement that comes with it and coming up with creative ways of securing oneself. I always love to hear from everybody because that’s how we grow in this industry and learn from one another. Friction savers are not only for protecting the cambium layer or the rope but can be applied in a cinch method onto the spar! For M.R.S. this can be accomplished using an adjustable friction saver or by using a fan favorite, the Teufelberger Pulleysaver!
It’s important to note when using an adjustable ring to ring friction saver that the rings have to be spaced out a minimum of at least 6 inches in order to create a cinching action onto the spar. If the rings are failed to be spaced correctly, a cinching effect will not be created, and the system will continuously travel downward. The absolutely great thing about Teufelberger’s Pulleysaver, apart from making the climb buttery smooth is the tight like a tiger cinch action it provides on the spar! This gives you a safe means of working the spar with an MRS system.
Okay, now that I have the friction saver, where do I place it?
Again, another great discussion! I’ve talked with multiple people on this subject and the responses all varied from climber to climber. Personally, I try to place my systems above the rigging block to avoid the sling/block combo or rig line from coming into contact with my life support system.
Others have said they do both just under the rigging set up because they wanted to avoid systems from flopping off the spar in the event of a violent shock load, which I absolutely understand. While others like to keep the tie-in under the rigging setup and lanyard above or vice-versa. Nothing wrong with any of these setups, but if you do prefer to keep the tie in underneath the rigging setup, make sure it isn’t too far under the rigging system. If it is too far down, the rigging rope may contact your climbing system and burn your life support. The second possibility would have to be the shock loading of life support if you were to slip or fall.
Normally I love working the spar in a S.R.S. cinch configuration with my rope wrench! This involves tying a Running Bowline backed with a Yosemite tie off, it’s a non-retrievable anchor unless you tie an Anchor Bend attached with a carabiner onto the tail end of Running Bowline. Key thing here, to make it retrievable, run the falling end of your climb system through that carabiner. It’s simple and effective!
Example image of my S.R.S. cinch configuration using my rope wrench.
Once I hit the ground, in order to retrieve I’ll pull on the two legs of rope that are ran through carabiner and bring the canopy anchor to me. Another bomb proof cinch anchor involves the use of an Alpine Butterfly with an anchor ring or a quickie and this turns into an even simpler retrieval. On this anchor, the climber moves around on the leg of rope that has gone through the anchor ring. Pulling on the leg of rope that has the alpine butterfly will make the anchor come down to the either the ground or to where the next cut is to be made.
There are many solid tie-in options out there and we’d love to hear from everyone. Help spread the knowledge! Drop down below and let us know what are some of the creative ways you anchor onto the spar with. Knowledge is power!