Addressing hitch binding with the Rope Wrench on descent

Oertl

New Member
@Birdyman88 Firstly, thank you! Secondly, let me assure you that I never thought of the Rope Wrench as life support--I've read plenty, plenty, plenty to know that the hitch is the thing. However, what I was trying to say was that I was pulling down on the hitch, the way I saw it in the video--and nothing was moving.

I'd better add a "thirdly" in here to say that, before I ever hooked into a saddle ring, I had hung the equipment on a rope suspended from the ceiling and experimented with the setup. I could see that as the pulley went up it released the hitch and pushed it up with it, and that the tether made the Wrench go into "neutral" (as the company names it) and it went up too, and that when I stopped and pulled down on the pulley, simulating my weight, the hitch locked. What I was saying was that for the longest time I could not pull the hitch down.

I went back to the photos and descriptions to check that I had everything hooked up the same way. Check. I thought I was pulling down "pretty hard" on the hitch, but nothing was moving, and I had no experience with "how much" friction the Wrench was going to supply, so I had begun to wonder if I had, perhaps too big a diameter hitch cord, or too many turns in the hitch, or if, say, I needed to put hold my hand a certain way? Finally, I discovered that I wasn't pulling down hard enough on the hitch to get it moving. Again, not something that can be learned from pictures. But the fact that it DID release in the experiment encouraged me that the setup was working the way it was supposed to and I moved on to trying myself in it from a low branch.

The other confusion did in fact arise from me not having a saddle like the ones in the pictures, and trying to use a sling as a chest harness as some do, but mostly from trying to jump straight to a bridge setup without having even been suspended once. By the time I'd practiced a few hours with things in adjustment, I did have a much, much better feel for how it was going to work.

The motivation for SRT for me is simple: I want to step up the rope. Today I learned that I can do it and it's not going to leave me exhausted. Of course getting into the tree is just the beginning. I'll still have to learn how to move about, let alone how to work.
 

Birdyman88

Member
I understand, keep reading though, I promise, promise,promise the issue is not the saddle. I have climbed SRT on two completely different saddles ..... but ...... I absolutely understand my hitch and everything last little nuance. If you're binding and can't figure it out .... trust me ..... do some DDRT and see if you don't understand then. You've done the reading ...........but ......... there's a lot of hands on that ALL OF US had to get through. You'll get there. There's knowing, and then there' KNOWING, if you know what I mean. We've all gone through it. KNOW YOUR HITCH. Climb on brother.
 

Birdyman88

Member
Thank you, and please feel free to PM me and we can hook up on phone. But, it's the hitch. It always ends up being the hitch for the issues you bring up. Even when you change climbing rope and it ain't working out and you just can't seem to get it feeling right ....... it's the hitch .... or our lack of understanding thereof ... lololol.
 

Birdyman88

Member
@Oertl I was just thinking about things going back to to the early days. Man, nowadays, I could honestly tie a rope around my waist and go SRT. As long as I have a good hitch and some additional way to add friction, I'm good to go. Kevin Bingham (rope wrench inventor) did it with a honed-out box end wrench, but at the end of the day, he knew his hitch., his weight, the typical tree he climbed, etc etc.

My brother took out several 60+ ft pines in 1984 hanging on a home-made rope saddle. Of course one of them barber-chaired and almost broke his back via the lanyard. Point being, some crazy things can happen doing what we do. You catch my drift? You did the right thing coming out here and asking.
 
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WaitakKauri

Well-Known Member
@Birdyman88 You have my solemn promise to KEEP STUDYING MY HITCH, with the end goal to KNOW it. Thank you.
Great to see hear of your learning to climb, keep it low, slow and safe. I started SRT and I'd say that SRT needs a more finely turned hitch with the RW (rope wrench) for best performance in a general sense

Some questions, how much do you weigh, what friction cord and it's diameter, what friction hitch and what rope and it's diameter. The commination if these things will help explain the situation.

Weight is important as with all other things the same, a hitch will perform different - it's that force of gravity being proportional to mass thing.
 

Burrapeg

Well-Known Member
Hey there Oertl, I am sixty-something also and I don't have to tell you that we don't bounce like we used to at twenty five or thirty. So LOW and SLOW, just like the above advice, til you all this dialed in. I weigh 185 and this is heavy enough to make some hitches problematic even with a RW above them. Choice of which hitch, which hitch cord, which rope, etc. is more critical the heavier the climber. I am relatively new to this too, and only on my two or three dozenth climb after a year and a half, so I still pay really close attention to the old timers and pros on this forum! Their advice, coupled with careful initial practice close to the ground, is a good beginning. To climb safely and with a positive attitude, enjoying the moment, one has to trust one's equipment and methods completely. There may be fear of height (most everybody has a bit of that, especially in the beginning) and each climb is different, but you must know and trust your equipment absolutely, and your movements want to be second nature as far as possible. One final thought: Even with totally fool-proof gear, always remember the TIP, that is to say the limb you hang from, is potentially the weak link in the chain. It is the one thing in the mix that is never rated or certified as life support. The finest rope, most expensive saddle, are useless to save you if that limb breaks with you dangling sixty feet up. Be sure of that tie in point to the very best of your ability, carry binoculars to check it out, etc. before you trust your life and health to it.
 

Birdyman88

Member
Be sure of that tie in point to the very best of your ability, carry binoculars to check it out, etc. before you trust your life and health to it.
Very good advice. Often overlooked because of technical problems with saddles, ropes and hitches.

My daughter is a plebe at the US Naval Academy. Her friend and squad mate, "Super Girl" was footlocking up the rope at the O-course. Of course, the foot didn't completely catch right when her hands were grasping for the rope. Drop ... 25 feet with rope burn, but gets back up and finishes the climb ... thus "Super Girl".

And I'll be quiet now.
 
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Oertl

New Member
So I'm about 210#. 6' tall.

After a LOT of reading all over the place, I settled on a 10mm beeline for a Michoacan hitch for my existing new 13mm woven rope. I also concluded from reading that a stiff tether was virtually mandatory and sensed that shorter was better. I hadn't realized that all those videos were made on systems that had been individually tuned. Although I'd redd a lot of posts concerning adjustments different people made, I still was taking the comments to be fine-tuning. I expected any system I put together with similar components was going to at-least work, and need adjustment to perfect it. I didn't realize that my weight, rope condition, suppleness, all the things in this thread, could actually combine to give the appearance that the system didn't work. (As I wrote, my first experiment trying to pull the hitch down gave me the impression that the system was "locked" somehow. Instead, my particular choices, and hitch-tie, resulted in a system that required more force to get moving--force which will no doubt reduce as the hitch breaks in.)

I never ran across a video about the series of tries and adjustments an individual goes through to get a setup just-right, and I sure don't blame anyone for not wanting to repeat them just to make a video.
 

Burrapeg

Well-Known Member
Oertl, a lot of us older guys get a bit heavier in our middle years and it makes us rather top heavy. This can lead to discomfort in the saddle because we are always fighting to not tip over backwards. A chest roller and chest harness is a great addition. You run your rope through the chest roller and your hitch, pulley, and RW ride on top of the roller to self advance. The roller holds you completely upright against the rope. You can then almost walk up the rope hands-free if you are using foot and knee ascenders to do SRT. There are a couple of youTube videos about the PMI chest rollers and also some home brew versions. I LOVE mine! Takes so much of the work and strain out of climbing. Worth every penny.
 

TimBr

Well-Known Member
@Oertl; You probably realize this, but I'll mention it anyway, just in case. One of the huge advantages of SRT over DdRT is that you do not have to isolate a tie-in point. Using more branches, more crotches, in SRT allows the weight to be distributed over a bigger area of the tree. This means that you are not relying 100% on just one branch to keep you from falling out of a tree. I much prefer the backup or redundancy that SRT provides. Plus, it is much easier and faster to get a line in the tree using SRT than having to isolate one strong branch, as you need to do when climbing using DdRT techniques.

Thanks.

Tim
 

Oertl

New Member
@Burrapeg I guess my rudimentary chest "harness" made out of a sling and carabiner was an attempt to emulate a chest kroll. I've made a note that that's what I really need.

@TimBr Your mention of re-distribution of weight reminded me of something in my recent introduction into rigging too, with much of the focus being on how mechanical advantage develops. A big surprise possibly, for people who've never thought about it before, is that tension, T, is the same at any place along and inside a tensioned rope. If the climb line is tensioned by the weight, W, of the climber, that tension stays the same at the tie-in point, in my understanding, although it may be pointed in a different direction. This leads me to wonder if there are branches which are stronger in one direction than another, in which case changing the direction a force is applied might have a different result. Regardless, are we still talking about a single-point of failure (rope or TIP) with SRT?

Thanks!
 

TimBr

Well-Known Member
@Oertl; You've asked a sharp question. Something that I was considering to add to my previous post, but did not, is that when you route your rope through a tree, you want to try to load each branch in compression, which is the strongest vector that a branch possesses, if I'm understanding things correctly. Put another way, you want to load a branch in such a way that the force is applied so that you are trying to push the branch straight back down its length to the trunk.

What you want to avoid, if possible, is loading a branch in tension, which I think means the way you would try to apply force when wanting to break off a branch from a bigger branch by pulling down on it, away from the bigger part of the branch. Like if you were on the ground, working in your yard, and needed to acquire a stick to reach up for something. You've got a broken branch with a lot of smaller branches coming off of it, and you'd like to tear off one of the smaller ones. So you pull down away from the main branch, and the smaller branch snaps off easily.

I know I'm being way too wordy and unclear, here, but it's tough to describe three dimensional things, sometimes. Hopefully it makes a little bit of sense.

As to your question about "Regardless, are we still talking about a single-point of failure (rope or TIP) with SRT?", I think you are talking about two different things in one question, here. I think using SRT to go through multiple crotches eliminates or reduces the possibility of a suspension point failure causing a fall. I try to imagine what will happen if my highest crotch were to break out using SRT. Where is the next crotch that my rope will fall back to, and the next after that? With DdRT, if the one and only branch your rope is hanging on breaks off, and it is the only rope you are climbing on, you are going to take a fall. With SRT, and multiple suspension points, there's a good chance that no branch will ever break in the first place, because all of them are sharing the load of your bodyweight and gear. If the last crotch in the series, before the line falls freely down to you were to break out, however, there is a good chance that the other crotches that are lined up in sequence will catch your weight and not also fail.

All of the above is a separate issue from a rope failure. If you are only climbing on one rope, and you manage to cut it in half, and you do not have a second tie-in like you are supposed to, you are going to fall. It is the reason it is a requirement that you lanyard in before making any cuts whatsoever, with a chainsaw or even a hand saw. If you cut your climbing line with a saw, and you are also attached to the tree with a lanyard, you now have no way to get down, maybe, but you are also not dead yet. Someone can send you up another rope. It is shockingly easy to cut or "pop" a weighted climbing line with a hand saw.

All of the above is why I prefer to climb using two SRT systems at the same time, on two separate ropes. It helps tremendously with work positioning, and it provides an "alibi" if you run into some kind of an issue with a climbing system.

I've run on too long in this post. I hope some of this is helpful.

Tim
 

JeffGu

Well-Known Member
Still single point of failure, but the TIP is seeing less of the load... so the risk is reduced. You can do this stuff with DdRT as well, but there's a lot more hardware and scrambling around in the tree to get it done. SRT lends itself to the task quickly and easily, by comparison.

I tried a chest roller out that a friend was willing to loan me for a day. It went to the top of my priority list of MUST GET items. Huge difference. @Burrapeg is dead on the money about this being the thing to have as we get older. Until somebody starts genetically modifiying trees to have built in elevators, I'm going to have to spend the money and get one of the PMI units.
 

TimBr

Well-Known Member
@JeffGu; I hope you are still able to find one, somewhere. Rock Exotica discontinued production of them, for some reason, is my understanding. Lately all I remember seeing available are the vests that the hardware attaches to. You might have to look on ebay. Thanks.

Tim

Edit: Hey, Jeff! Your post prompted me to do a search, and it's possible I just discovered something! Here's a link.

https://www.innermountainoutfitters.com/pmi-double-chest-roller/

The web page says that the double roller unit is "available for pre-order only". So maybe Rock Exotica is getting back into the game of making them, due to all of the talk on the forums about how much people love these things. Maybe you can get in on the list, over.
 
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New2trees

Well-Known Member
Hello Oertl,

Thanks for moving me to the number 2 position as the oldest least experienced climber.

I am 63 6.1 and 205 and had much the same experiences you did climbing SRT the first times. The first thing I found was that small hitchcords bound terribly....but I see you are using 10mm which is what I use without trouble.

However the second thing I was doing might have also been your issue. To keep from dropping too far down and making it harder to release my knee and ankle ascender I was moving my hitch upward as far as I could at the end of my ascent....however the rope wrench needs a few inch's of setback to engage. So by pushing my hitch up the rope at the end of my ascent the hitch was grabbing before the rope wrench was 90° to the climbing line and this was allowing the hitch to set tighter than it needed to. I found that if I just eased pressure to allow setback to occur smoothly that the hitch would not bind much at all, even after sitting in the saddle fully loaded for some time.
 

TimBr

Well-Known Member
Also, folks, the price on that chest roller is without the PMI vest it attaches to. I think that item is another fifty bucks or so. I think TreeStuff still sells them.
 

JeffGu

Well-Known Member
Yeah, a guy would have to quit drinking beer for a couple of days to afford all that. Nah, that's too crazy... even for me. I'll just rob a liquor store.
 
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