Saving Energy on Ascents with the Rope Walk Technique
Gone are the days of hip thrusting into the tree! It may keep climbers in phenomenal shape, but it definitely takes a lot of effort to do. Personally, I love climbing, but when I'd work on trees that didn’t have a branch union until about 60 feet up in the air--my arms would feel like spaghetti by the time I was done. I would eventually make it up there with a couple of breaks along the way. Then after the initial ascend we still had to work the whole canopy if it were to be crown cleaned. Now there could be more than just one tree on the property, which meant repeating the process all day long. Days like this left me with little energy to do anything else once I was home.
Rope walking takes away all of the unnecessary spent energy, leaving you with enough leftover for extracurricular activities! If you’re going to give this ascent technique a shot and are wondering what gear you’ll need, look no further. At minimum a good foot ascender can do the trick, but you’ll be hopping up the rope instead of rope walking. Adding a knee ascender and the optional chest harness can maximize your movement over just one footie. I mentioned the chest harness as optional because I know it can give a constricting feel and throwing a lanyard over the shoulder can alleviate that.
This ascent technique can be achieved on both MRS and SRS systems, but it does seems to work better for the latter. With MRS, you are working with more rope and only gaining half of what you would on SRS. If you haven’t messed around with ascenders before, I highly recommend practicing getting them on and off the rope before going up too high. This would prevent a cam lock situation and eliminate the possibility of a rescue. Once you get done with that learning curve, practice keeping yourself upright as you ascend. Leaning back will force you to use your arms to stand up and will tire you. Standing straight up, will only have you use your arms minimally and incorporate your legs more.
Check out Bartlett's video on the rope walking technique video, and see even more technique videos and "how-tos" on our YouTube channel!