What do all those letters mean when it comes to climbing?
So, for anyone that's been in the tree industry for at least the last couple years, you’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of letters that are being thrown around when talking about different types of climbing systems as well as different climbing techniques. If you have been in the tree industry for 10-15 years, you’ve probably seen even more letters that get thrown before, after, in parentheses, or one’s that just stand alone signifying their own style of climbing! Now if you’ve been in the industry for 20 years, you’re probably wondering how many more times climbing styles are going to change or how many times they can change and what in the hell all these letters stand for! So, let’s take a look at these letters and acronyms so that we can all get on the same page for a solid understanding of what letters stand for what style of climbing and where some misunderstandings are.
DdRT - Doubled Rope Technique
To start this out, let’s go back a ways to the traditional tree climbing system, the Tautline and Blake’s Hitch climbing system. Technically this is a climbing system that has a rope that is attached to the climber, goes up and over a limb, comes back down to the climber and the climber is attached to the falling piece of the rope with a Tautline hitch or a Blake’s hitch. The rope going from the climber and then up and over the limb then back down to the climber creates a loop that is made larger or smaller by adjusting the friction hitch (Tautline or Blake’s hitch). Since both sections of rope move while ascending and descending in the tree this is considered a Doubled Rope Technique or DdRT not to be confused with Double Rope Technique or DRT which is a rock climbing term but also a tree climbing technique! Let’s not get too confused yet!
DRT - Double Rope Technique
Speaking of DRT, rock climbers use this term to differentiate between using 2 independent lines while climbing opposed to 1 rope. Now to bring this into the tree climbing world, DRT was used to identify a climbing system that was using a single rope that was used in double setting. This term was mostly used while foot locking because the rope was put over a limb and the climber ascended up the rope without the rope moving. This was later brought into the tree industry for a little while to identify 2 Single Rope Technique systems. This is better thought of as a climber using a triple threat where 2 ropes were attached to a central hub in the tree with 2 independent Single Rope systems running on the 2 ropes, or Double Ropes! This term has been placed on the back burner and is not used very often any more. Let’s keep moving forward into less confusing topics!
SRT - Single Rope Technique
The next acronym to look at is SRT which stands for static rope technique or was it single rope technique? Well, sometimes it meant one or the other, and other times it just depended on who you were talking to. So, technically SRT is describing a system in which you have a single rope that is used in a static scenario, or in other terms, the rope doesn’t move but the climber moves along the rope with use of a Rope Wrench, Rope Runner, Akimbo, Zig Zag with Chicane or other more archaic methods like the F8 Revolver System. Regardless, this system allowed the climber to move along the rope without the rope creating a loop and moving over a friction point in the tree like in a Ddrt system. Are you still following?
So, with all this terminology going on, the industry came together as a whole and decided that all the acronyms were getting pretty confusing. The great minds came together and made up 2 very simple acronyms for us to use. MRS and SRS. These 2 acronyms separated the climbing systems by exactly what they were doing, 1 was moving when the climber was ascending or descending and the other was stationary or not moving when the climber was ascending or descending. Let’s discuss those next.
MRS - Moving Rope System
A moving rope system or MRS is exactly what we discussed in the DdRT segment of this article. When the climber ascends or descends on the rope, it moves because one end of the rope is attached to the climber while the rest of the rope goes up and over a limb and the falling end of the rope is attached to the climber via some sort of friction hitch or mechanical friction device. Regardless this acronym is used when your rope is moving over a friction point in the tree.
SRS - Stationary Rope Technique
A Stationary Rope Technique is exactly as it’s stated, STATIONARY! In other terms, the rope doesn’t move over a friction point in the tree like an MRS system does. This acronym takes over where SRT once did. Using a Stationary Rope Technique is great for long ascents as well as being able to redirect your rope throughout the canopy of the tree without adding in any additional friction as stated in our SRT blogs.
Though this blog post can lead to some confusion at the beginning, I feel it was a great way to show how our industry has responded to the confusion that was already floating around with all the different acronyms and terminology. By streamlining the systems into 2 different categories and then naming them in a way that is intuitive and easily explainable they took a huge step in the right direction! Let us know what you think of this new terminology and the new acronyms in the comments!