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The Climb of Shame!

The Climb of Shame!

If you’ve been in the industry for a while, you must have heard about the dreaded climb of shame!

It's when your gear gets caught in the tree, and there's no way to pull it down from the ground. The only way you're getting that gear back is if you get your butt up that tree and fetch it. Hence, the climb of shame.

Throw weights are one of the worst offending equipment. They get caught between unions, get tangled in the canopy, or perform some other voodoo stunt and hook perfectly onto branches.



The worst part, these shameful climbs can happen anytime to anyone. You could’ve taken the time to choose the nicest, widest tie-in, even set retrieval leg to prevent hang-ups and gear still gets caught! They also seem to magically happen on the gnarliest, most intricate and tiring trees!


Saying No to the Climb of Shame

Working on large-spread Oaks is my favorite job. One day, I was chasing deadwood throughout a Red Oak with an incredible spread. It just so happened to be the last tree of my day. For this job, I set up a Petzl Eject with my Xstatic rope as I prefer canopy anchors over basal anchors.

I’m up in the canopy working, and I realize that redirects will be necessary. After a quick assessment, I decided to drop through two redirects that were open and in line, meaning no sharp bends nor tight branch unions. Once completed, I could retrieve it all from the ground. But I made a crucial mistake. I forgot that my Xstatic rope had a SEWN eye and my retrieval wouldn't work.

Once on the ground, I proceeded to add my retrieval cone and sent up the splice with the tail end and by doing so I made a continuous loop in order to soft retrieve. To no surprise, the Eject wouldn’t release even as I tugged hard on it. It was the last tree of the day and I was already ready to get home, so I did the unthinkable: brought the rope down and cut the sewn eye off!  A sacrifice taken to avoid the climb of shame....


It didn't work. Away the rope went, the Eject released and I exhaled a sigh of relief. But I wasn't in the clear yet: the Eject only came down along with ONE leg of rope. The second leg looked as if it was draped in through the union, so I began pulling on the rope and… nothing. After some frustration, I gave up on the tug-of-war. Instead, I shot a line over my redirect and installed a Pinto pulley to the end my throw line. This technique can be super useful for rescuing ropes! Once your pulley gets near the caught rope, you need to finesse it onto the rope. Once on, pulling a leg of rope from your redirect will be relatively smooth thanks to that pulley. At this point in the story, the rest of the my crew had joined in on the rope rescue efforts.

We decided to shoot over the union of where the rope was stuck and began feeding the rope back through it, believing that it would come loose and drop. This technique has worked on two separate occasions, but in this circumstance it provided to be no luck. If anything, we made the situation worse and the rope tied itself onto the trunk, completely locking it down. By the time it was done, 45 minutes were wasted and everyone was frustrated. It probably would have been better to bite the bullet and climb up.

Climbs of Shame Happen

Climbs of shame happen to most climbers, so don't get too embarrassed if it happens to you. Feel free to share any funny climb of shame stories of your own in the comments below! Happy climbing.


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