Addressing hitch binding with the Rope Wrench on descent

TimBr

Well-Known Member
#81
So, just browsed to this stickied thread... Like TimBr, I'm a little isolated and picked up a few critical tips from this thread, among things I've found in other threads, or by trial and error. For entertainment and perhaps incidental usefulness, my entry experience to hitch climbing:

I incidentally crossed over to tree climbing in January of 2014 from a childhood of rock climbing (and a bit of technical caving) out west. While incorporating my ecological services business, I happened to be able to certify through the ISA (education plus working with two non-climbing arborists). Someone asked me what type of arboriculture I did and I said "pretty much everything" and they said "Good, because I've got this 18" oak limb over my roof." I needed money to stay out of jail and keep parenting my son and I was decent with ropes, so why not, right?

One of the experienced climbers has noted that most climbers are a bit lucky to get through their first six months. Being green, I surfed youtube, masterblaster, arboristsite, and treebuzz to get my virtual degree in climbing, getting lucky once on a 4" oak limb that peeled in half inside my lanyard. After that, I surfed for the top 10 ways to kill oneself in a tree, which was an excellent education. Point being, not all of us have access to proper training and what you guys post is critical for speculative newbs like me.

I superficially surfed the arborist forums to buy my climbing gear and bought a rope wrench on pure faith that y'all weren't bullsh*ting - I had very little idea of what it was supposed to do and had no reference point for the ddrt/srt distinction (I defaulted to fixed rope without realizing anything else existed). Because I spent my wad on an Onyx harness, lanyard, pole saw, 600 lbs. rated bicycle trailer, etc., I took a 10-year-old 10.2/10.5ishmm dynamic rock climbing line and stuck an 8mm sterling RIT on it in with a vt hitch. In retrospect, easy to say that the bounce in the climbing line ate my ascent, I had no technique, and it was a complete chore to climb on that system. The climbing line deformed more than a proper arborist line, and the narrow cord acted more knife-like, which made things intollerably pinchy.

I switched to a free-to-me top-rope line with near-zero elongation - I think it was 11.2mm bluewater rap line. This was very climbable, but deformed into kinked sections with each step up I took on my foot ascender. Felt sketchy.

I looked at the arborist forums again and bought cougar blue line and 10mm oceans hitch. Things are fuzzy as to the type of hitch - I went from vt to distel to michoacan over my total career thus far, in that order, but I can't remember when I switched relative to the rope I was using. My first experience with the cougar blue was great, but I had a mishap exiting a tree 10 minutes into a light drizzle of rain - my hitch bound up and I had to muscle my way down the last twenty feet by sheer will power. It took me several months to fully recover and I ended up getting a cortical steroid injection in my right wrist to (sucessfully) reset my forearm. I was also bicycling to half the county with 200lbs+ loads which was giving me carpel tunnel in my wrists. As issues go, there are definitely worse, but those twenty feet felt like the end of my climbing career and may have been if I hadn't gotten an injection and a mini skid steer. I may have been using oceans 10mm with a distel hitch. While in the drizzle, I felt as though the hitch would either bind, or drop me without warning. I've avoided that level of precipitation since, but I think I could handle it now, especially with some of the information shared here. I would really be interested to know everyone's comfort level with precipitation of various temperature and intensities.

Nowadays, I'm climbing happily on cougar blue with a 10mm oceans 30cm hitch cord tied in a 5(?) wrap michoacan. It's hard to fit all the wraps with 30cm, especially with a new cord. Prior to weighting my hitch, I like to jog the rope wrench generously up the line and tilt it upwards. The rw gets weighted first.

Incidentally, I've had tachyon in hand and found it to be lighter and more pinchable than my cougar blue. I haven't climbed on the tachyon. I feel like a more solid line is better for running a hitch cord on.

I invited a friend and trained caving instructor to take down an 18" diameter water oak and was reminded about the variability in safety that those who use ropes (rock climbers/cavers/tree climbers) will tolerate. Rock climbers and cavers travel in a single direction without reversing direction to any significant degree. This is a mindset of theirs, as well. A safe device, for them, has the potential to go only in one direction. My caving instructor friend dutifully strapped on spikes, d-rings, lanyard, and rw, and climbed up, low and slow. It was clear that with her background she felt that the rw was intrinsically unsafe because it lets a person go both up and down. Tree climbers have a unique view of what is safe that is driven by the working need to switch between going up and down at will without changeover. I'm not putting any value judgement on that last statement - just noting that our standard is not really acceptable in caving and sport/trad rock climbing. I wonder how aid climbers and rescuers roll, as a matter of curiousity. Obviously, we're doing our thing with a high degree of success and the very rare uncontrolled tumble mixed in...

My main issues at this point are:

1. My hitch is hard to reach while limb walking. Seems like two oval dmm biners and a standard dmm pulley look longish and I keep thinking about a shorter tether and some kind of shackle system. Then I just want to forget it and get an rr or akimbo. I see many different configs on the rw, and lots of cheering from the galleries, but the reason for them is not always apparent to me. Is compaction of the system the primary goal? It sure is mine.
2. I don't know when my hitch cord is "worn out". I'm on my 4th oceans 10mm in two years, but feel like I'm sort of guessing. I'm not at production level frequency yet - just climbing an average of 2 days per week.
3. Keeping my atlas smurf gloves out of my hitch, which may not be a problem if I start gripping the whole hitch instead of just the top wrap, on decent.

Pictures of my rw setup are attached.

Any thoughts are appreciated.
Hey, colb! Welcome to the TreeBuzz forum. There's a lot of really helpful folks here. (I just noticed you've been a member for awhile; nice to see you posting here lately.)

Thanks for the thorough introduction to yourself.

I'll probably have to re-read your post before I come up with any additional comments, but the one thing that stood out to me about your setup as being possibly problematic is your use of a 2nd biner for your Rope Wrench stiff tether.

@countryboypa31 is a world class climber, and he produced this youtube video that tries to explain why he thinks your configuration might be a mistake, and how to do it differently. Here's the link to his video.

https://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=nhQTBe2OPvQ

I hope this helps.

Also, you should read this thread, and then go watch all of the rest of Tony Knight's videos.

http://www.treebuzz.com/forum/threads/flex-tether-for-the-rope-wrench.24530/

That's all for now.

Tim
 

colb

Well-Known Member
#82
Appreciate it, fellas. Time to learn how to tie a rope bridge knot - nothing like making your own life support (nervous lol)!

Oceans, no need to explain why the epiCORD is a go-to. I'll look forward to comparing them firsthand. I'm going to be a little curious until I try it.

Off topic, I'm trying to order 600 ft. of 9/16th all gear dyneema for a 90°-off-lean hazard 24" dbh Laurel oak drop. I want the line anyways for speed lining/block-and-run/winching off roofs/pulling trees in pastures/etc. The tree is hanging over a shack at 15°. I've gotten pretty good at deploying a 30 ton truck bottle jack with wedges to mitigate against jack failure. Figuring to basket the rope around an upper limb or two and send the ends back to a porty and grcs bollard on a pair of live oaks 200 ft. away. Tie off the Laurel oak butt several times to another nearby Laurel oak with heavy lean away from the shack with my cheap 3/4" Samson bull rope so it can't smack the shack upon rebound. Anyone ever done this? Does it go well? It's basically a controlled drop at 90° off lean. My friend and I understand the future status of the shack is a bit speculative, lol. Basically, I'm trying to match the tensile strengths and weights in the entire system, partly by avoiding knots. I'm figuring ~35,000lbs of tensile strength is enough to get it down while it's being supported by its own stump too. The figuring is not based on swl - just wl, because the consequences of failure are low (tree is going to crunch the shack anyways). Just worried about the ground bounce loading things... If the canopy crunch absorbs the impact and the butt comes off without slack, it may all rest pretty soft. Anyhow, I'll shoot to throw the epiCORD into that TS order.

Good times!
 

colb

Well-Known Member
#83
Hey, colb! Welcome to the TreeBuzz forum. There's a lot of really helpful folks here. (I just noticed you've been a member for awhile; nice to see you posting here lately.)

Thanks for the thorough introduction to yourself.

I'll probably have to re-read your post before I come up with any additional comments, but the one thing that stood out to me about your setup as being possibly problematic is your use of a 2nd biner for your Rope Wrench stiff tether.

@countryboypa31 is a world class climber, and he produced this youtube video that tries to explain why he thinks your configuration might be a mistake, and how to do it differently. Here's the link to his video.

https://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=nhQTBe2OPvQ

I hope this helps.

Also, you should read this thread, and then go watch all of the rest of Tony Knight's videos.

http://www.treebuzz.com/forum/threads/flex-tether-for-the-rope-wrench.24530/

That's all for now.

Tim
Thanks Tim, I'll check those out!
 

swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
#84
One thing that might make a considerable improvement is a slightly shorter hitch with sewn eyes. The overal hitch often ends up being more responsive, with less sit back.

I would recommend you order a 28" 10mm EpiCORD with sewn eyes and give it a whirl in a Michoacan config on that cougar.

Rain can make cordage swell a bit and feel quite different. In time you'll most likely either get used to what's inherent with those conditions, and make proactive changes, or just avoid the conditions all together.

Sometimes I like the rain and where it brings me. It's like nightfall, when so many others are staying inside. It can feel sort of tranquil.
Ditch the extra biner on the tether..connect tether between one eye and hitchclimber....also my vote is a 28" epi 10mm with a 3/3 VT....
 

colb

Well-Known Member
#85
Ditch the extra biner on the tether..connect tether between one eye and hitchclimber....also my vote is a 28" epi 10mm with a 3/3 VT....
Hey, Swingdude, thanks for your input. To follow up explicitly on "connect tether between one eye and hitchclimber", 1.) does the "one eye" fit as most tethers directly on the rw (as mine is in my picture), and 2.) what is the most compact, safe, preferred connection method between the tether and the hitchclimber pulley? I've seen so many tethers and tether widgets by now that it's getting a little crowded in my head, lol.

For curiousity sake, what's to stop one from putting a pulley with an open axle, or abr ring directly around the rope bridge? I know there's a premium on frictionless hardware that prohibits the abr ring from being seriously considered, but would it be that hard to design a pulley that fits around a rope?

Thanks again, Swingdude.
 

swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
#86
Hey, Swingdude, thanks for your input. To follow up explicitly on "connect tether between one eye and hitchclimber", 1.) does the "one eye" fit as most tethers directly on the rw (as mine is in my picture), and 2.) what is the most compact, safe, preferred connection method between the tether and the hitchclimber pulley? I've seen so many tethers and tether widgets by now that it's getting a little crowded in my head, lol.

For curiousity sake, what's to stop one from putting a pulley with an open axle, or abr ring directly around the rope bridge? I know there's a premium on frictionless hardware that prohibits the abr ring from being seriously considered, but would it be that hard to design a pulley that fits around a rope?

Thanks again, Swingdude.
Here ya go.....pics tell a million..that setup is mint 2016-05-10 20.55.40.jpg 2016-05-10 20.55.08.jpg
 

TimBr

Well-Known Member
#91
This is one of the best combos I have found with my short tether RW setup; Vortex with a View attachment 37830 24" e2e AP 10mm 3x3 VT. It never binds, you can not make it bind, even with a long drop and sudden stop ,always a smooth release. And it always grabs, no manual setting ever, even after 100' + ascents.
Wow! That was quite a post! Thanks for sharing your formula!

I do have a couple of questions for you with regard to your short tether. In the photo it looks as though you've combined some kind of metal piece on the bottom end of your tether with whatever cordage you happen to be using on the top end of your short tether. I looked, but could not find any posts by you that detail how it was that you constructed your Rope Wrench tether. Can you provide any more details about this?

Also, looking at your photograph of how your tether is attached to your triple attachment pulley is confusing to me. It almost looks like you have some kind of hollow pin coming out the center of the bottom, metal end of your tether. To me that implies a flange, or raised edge exists on the pin, which keeps the tether from slipping off. I was wondering if I'm anywhere close in my description of your method of attachment for your tether to the pulley?

It looks like it might be a really slick, quick-release system for the tether. Is there any way you could post a photo of the opposite side of your pulley? Maybe even a separate photo of the method of attachment, all by itself?

Thanks in advance for any answers you choose to give.

Tim
 
#92
Yes Tim that's exactly it, Just a little metal piece I made ( shackle) that fits on the top hole of the HC pulley. Then just cordage , heat shrink or tape in between. The pin is close to the same diameter as the hole in the HC for a snug fit. I was originally going to try and make the pin with a detent or slick pin retainer but found that it stays in just fine with the washer welded on one end. At the moment I have to be real careful not to lose the pin when switching to DDRt but I could mitigate that with a drilling a hole and adding a little throw line to the pin. Another short hitch that works good with this settup is a 5 or 6 wrap 1 brade VT, or Hitchhiker knot as people call it.
IMGP0029.JPG IMGP0030.JPG IMGP0105.JPG
 

swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
#93
Never understand why folks think that an ABR normal tether and a 28" stitched cord wrench setup is BIG and gets in the way....I find it funny....a wrench is such a great tool in a reg setup...but hey horses for courses
 
#94
Never understand why folks think that an ABR normal tether and a 28" stitched cord wrench setup is BIG and gets in the way....I find it funny....a wrench is such a great tool in a reg setup...but hey horses for courses
I don't remember the extra length being a problem until I got a HitchHiker. Climbing on the HH-2 everyday for 6 months and then going back on the RW it just seemed to always be in the way. I guess I just got spoiled with the HH. But yes you are right, Not a problem at all for most people. But I am really liking my short RW now, and its great to have an extra system for DRT situations.
 
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JeffGu

Well-Known Member
#95
I think it's just a body type thing... for some people it ends up hitting you right in the face a lot. Lot of variance with humans, as far as the ratio of torso to leg that makes up our height. Add to that all the different saddles, bridge configurations, etc. and I'm surprised that so much of this equipment works for so many people.
 

swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
#96
I think it's just a body type thing... for some people it ends up hitting you right in the face a lot. Lot of variance with humans, as far as the ratio of torso to leg that makes up our height. Add to that all the different saddles, bridge configurations, etc. and I'm surprised that so much of this equipment works for so many people.
Jeff I think you are right here...at 6' the wrench has never been near my face...I run a short bridge and never climb DdRT...except the odd tail....HH never appealed to me...I am a singing tree dude....I just love a wrench....preference though
 

TimBr

Well-Known Member
#97
Yes Tim that's exactly it, Just a little metal piece I made ( shackle) that fits on the top hole of the HC pulley. Then just cordage , heat shrink or tape in between. The pin is close to the same diameter as the hole in the HC for a snug fit. I was originally going to try and make the pin with a detent or slick pin retainer but found that it stays in just fine with the washer welded on one end. At the moment I have to be real careful not to lose the pin when switching to DDRt but I could mitigate that with a drilling a hole and adding a little throw line to the pin. Another short hitch that works good with this settup is a 5 or 6 wrap 1 brade VT, or Hitchhiker knot as people call it.
View attachment 37831 View attachment 37832 View attachment 37833
Thanks for posting all of the great photos of your setup, ClimbHy. So, there really is nothing but pressure from the tether cordage keeping that pin from slipping all of the way out of the hitch climber pulley then, if I'm understanding things correctly. I'd be afraid that if I rolled to the right, it would just fall right out. But you are finding that it stays right where you want it, no problem. Really interesting. Thanks again, and beautiful, robust looking work you've done there with that tether, all around.

Tim
 

monkeylove

Well-Known Member
#98
It would have a hard time working it's way out Tim, but even if it did there would not really be a problem per say. The RW is not really the life support, the hitch underneath it is. The hitch would bind up tight and might be rough to descend on but that it why we carry 8's or use mutters.
 
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