1. MickCPitlick

    MickCPitlick Member

    Joined:
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    Well, maybe it’s time to earn my keep around here, not that I really can. It is a privilege to read and come to know and see the know-how you all are sharing here and I am grateful and humbled to be a part of this community.

    I’m 62, afraid of heights, no rope experience. At least that was true about three months ago. As a physically fit, home handyman, career engineer and autodidact, I took it up to learn about climbing: to work on my fear, to work on the roof, to do some pruning, to get some exercise, to touch and feel the beautiful technology of rope, knots, and mechanicals.

    Our modern moment is really amazing. Youtube, this bulletin board, manufacturer sites, and distributor sites are such rich sources of instruction. Many have disclaimers and warnings to the effect of: “You will likely die if you try anything with getting live instruction”. Any way, if you want to, this is a game where you can teach yourself. I am doing.

    I climb alone. That’s a bit scary, but I keep my cellphone ready and I designed my basal anchor for rescue. (The fire department should know how to lower me?!)

    Of course I am learning in baby steps, low and slow. I do have a story to tell though. It happened on like my second day out. It’s too embarrassing, but it happened that I became trapped 6 inches off the ground, upside down, no cell phone.

    I had done apparently a very bad thing by hooking up an ascender with a DMM Revolver and stringing a 3:1 loop. But I also tried out my Pantin on the tail. It was like a Chinese finger trap, the more I struggled, the more I became stretched and vertical, head down!

    I did escape, after calming down, I was able to touch the ground and de-load my harness biner. If I was a foot higher, I would have died. I still don’t know what really happened.

    After that, I’ve basically been OK, and gradually going through a self-study curriculum.

    I’ve read (multiple times): the Petzl Catalog, the Wesspur Catalog, Jepson’s two tree books, Smith and Padgett “On Rope”, most of the Treebuzz threads, all of Nick Bonner’s videos, the Cornell videos, Climbing Arborist videos, the Treestuff website, the Storrick pages, and many other sources.

    Like anything else of some complexity, you have to hit the same material mutliple times from different angles before it finally sticks and gels into intuition. And you have to go hands-on. There’s no way to describe some of the interactions on the rope, (like getting finger trapped upside down) until you try it.

    My curriculum is something like this: 1) devices 2) ascending 3) changeovers at height 4) climbing with a lanyard, 5) rappelling 6) more height 7) redirects and moving the TIP higher, 8) limb-walking and return, 9) swinging and jumping 9) handsaw use, 10) chainsaw use. I have some great trees on my property for practice. Each day I construct drills in one or more skills and try to stretch beyond an earlier limit point.

    I made choices, as everyone does, and I think so far very few mistakes when it comes to equipment.

    No DdRT. Except for tradition, there is nothing to recommend doubled rope. It is inferior to SRT in the following ways: a) ease of setup/teardown, b) ease of ascending, c) ease of redirecting. The mechanical advantage it offers is good for short ascents and limb-walk returns but RADS is just as good on that score. I should say that its other virtue is that DdRT is fairly simple and standardized on the equipment side of the equation. But more equipment is part of the fun for hotrodders like me.

    My basic climbing system is based on the HitchHiker. I also looked at Rope Wrench and Unicender. Unicender is a toy and expensive. Between HH and RW, HH is fool-proof and compact in comparison. The RopeWrench successor, RopeRunner may be the Holy Grail, let’s see.

    The HitchHiker is so close to ideal for its purpose and so far ahead of alternatives that I am perplexed by its failure to dominate. For those who don’t know it, it’s a magic friction hitch, behaving almost exactly like a prusik knot.
    Prusiks are themselves magical, because they can grab or slide under a variety of stimuli, which no mechanical can truly imitate. It’s easy to design a prusik hitch that grabs on descent and slides on ascent. Cam ascenders do also. But prusiks can release under load and slide down, which cam ascenders cannot. And prusik friction is continuously variable in response to the gentlest finger pressure shifts. You can play a prusik like a violin. Note that prusiks are also at the heart of DdRT systems.

    But for SRT, a prusik alone doesn’t work. It’s too grabby, or not grabby enough and on rappel it tends to burn up. What the HH is, is a prusik amplifier with positive feedback, a prusik exoskeleton with heat capacity.
    The HH has two parts: a prusik knot and a heavy steel variable friction channel. When the knot tightens during a down slide, it sends a signal to the steel part that tells it to add friction, a process that greatly amplifies the effect of the knot while allowing it to stay cool and only moderately constricted for the weight that hangs below.

    In practice, the HH knot system is somewhat sensitive to how it’s tied like any prusik would be, but over a wide range of tying styles, it works, and does so safely.

    In my system, the HH is connected to my central harness ring. Going up I use a handled ascender with a Yates foot loop, and a Pantin. It works as a ropewalker and works well.

    In the canopy I use a CE lanyards for positioning and backup, and sometimes add a Revolver and 3-to-1 loop hanging off the ascender.

    One small complaint. The HH has a fair amount of up-sliding friction. (The ideal would be zero.) The effect of this is when I stand on the foot loop (right side) and the HH tends upward, it pushes a bight of rope between it and the overhead ascender. (Maybe this would not happen if the tail was longer and thus heavier.) On the second motion, when I shift weight to the left foot with Pantin, the Pantin pulls the slack out, but there is lost motion and progress since the first half of the Pantin down stroke is spent on slack tending. Again, this is caused by the HH upward sliding friction, which is too much and undesirable.

    For descending, The HH is a dreamboat. It stops and starts on a dime, runs at a creep, crawl, or jog, and stops dead-hard all based on subtle finger cues. It immediately becomes part of your muscle memory and allows a “mind-over-matter” feeling.

    The HH also requires that you pull up on it to keep it with you and catch your progress when ascending. Though this is a basic need, somehow Paul Cox, whose absolute brilliance is evident in the basic design, failed to provide a point of attachment for this tending function.

    As it is designed any upward force has to be applied to the lower carabiner and not the body of the HH. Various inventors have learned to augment the HH by adding pull straps for tending. Coat-hangers, accessory chords, shackles and, the best, which I use, a polyurethane strap have all been proposed by experimenters. The strap was shown on Buzz Board, and is perfect and should be made standard for sale. I pull with a Torse light weight chest harness.

    I am a novice, so what I am about to say may be wrong, but it is my opinion. The HH provides the single best core element for climbing. It offers the same or higher mobility than any other system in the market. It’s fairly priced, won’t wear out, and extremely bombproof safe. Why doesn’t everyone use it?

    For saddles I went Sequoia SRT. Why not? It’s well made and comfortable and the leg strap couplers are sexy. So are those lovely gold coupling toroids that hold the bridge. I installed a rigging plate on the bridge, used as follows: 1) the HH, 2) backup tether to the handled ascender, 3) open for positioning with CE lanyard.

    Helmets? I went with Super Plasma. I just thought black was the “cool” color and they are clearly well-made, though not crazy-expensive like Protos. I was using a bike helmet before. I think the bike helmet was functional but nerdy.

    Ropes? They are all the same, for the most part, and all beautiful. As an object, I find rope to be sensual. Handling rope is, well, pleasurable. I am using Kernmaster (beautiful), Tachyon (more beautiful) , Singing Rock R44 (black and sexy) and so on. Not only is rope pretty, but it’s strong and loyal. You can trust your life to it.

    Soon I will write about handsaws. I just ordered my first.

    Treestuff is the place by the way. Super service. Quick delivery.

    Again, it’s an honor to be here.
     
    123Craig and Caulerpa like this.
  2. Tom Dunlap

    Tom Dunlap Administrator

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    Hey Mick,

    What a great write up!

    For me it's so exciting to read about new climbers coming into the trees. There is a freshness to their outlook and no connection to tradition or biases.

    Keep posting!

    I'm glad you got yourself unsnarled! My Dad told me that when he was a kid and was up at his Uncle's farm playing in the hayloft he got snarled up in a swinging rope too. His foot slipped into the loop and he was hanging upside down. the rest of the cousins had gone in for lunch. Dad was able to pull himself upright and get out of the hang...whew!
     
  3. macswan

    macswan Well-Known Member

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    Greetings mick, it's good to hear you are having such a good experience learning to climb.

    I would not blindly count on the fire dept knowing how to lower you. A lot of arborists create relationships with there local fd's so they know what the dept knows. And can perhaps show them a thing or two.

    I am a climber by trade and have been for five years now. I am still afraid of heights and I wouldn't have it any other way. It keep me alert.

    What's your set up for the HH tether? I see red strap and boat snap. You make that or purchase?

    Thanks for the detailed review of what you are using and how you like it. That could be especially helpful to other rec climbers just starting out.

    Where are you from? I hail from the people's republic of Vermont.
    Hope to see more of you on The buzz.
     
  4. oldoakman

    oldoakman Well-Known Member

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    Welcome Mick! Obviously with your engineering background you have given a lot of thought and experimentation to your system selection. I too agree the HH is the bomb and also like you had wondered why there wasn't an incorporation for advancing the HH as one ascends. I asked Paul about this at TCIA Expo and he said it changes the friction geometry in an unacceptable manner but he is working out a revision at this point. It also sounds like you have accumulated an abundance of gear, should you feel compelled to donate any to us poor unfortunates out here, I have room in my gear bag. Heh Heh! [​IMG]
     
  5. DSMc

    DSMc Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    [ QUOTE ]
    ...One small complaint. The HH has a fair amount of up-sliding friction. (The ideal would be zero.) The effect of this is when I stand on the foot loop (right side) and the HH tends upward, it pushes a bight of rope between it and the overhead ascender. (Maybe this would not happen if the tail was longer and thus heavier.) On the second motion, when I shift weight to the left foot with Pantin, the Pantin pulls the slack out, but there is lost motion and progress since the first half of the Pantin down stroke is spent on slack tending. Again, this is caused by the HH upward sliding friction, which is too much and undesirable...

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Oh man, what a great post!!! I am quite sure that it will not be so well received by some others, but as far as I'm concerned, it was great.

    Except for the above quoted paragraph. The small amount of drag produced by the hitch is more good than not. That tiny amount of friction creates control and the guaranty that it will grab, no matter what. It is insignificant in impeding or increasing the effort of upward progress.

    Lastly, switching to a knee ascender will not only totally solve the problem you are experiencing, but also give you more control and mobility.

    David
     
  6. JontreeHI

    JontreeHI Well-Known Member

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    I find that with a foot loop I have to take small steps to avoid what you are talking about. I can move much quicker with just a pantin and a double hand ascender, no foot loop. Long fast strides.
    Switch legs every day or every week or something, otherwise you will be walking in circles before you know it.
    Long ascent? Pantin on each foot and switch as necessary!
     
  7. MickCPitlick

    MickCPitlick Member

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    Forgive me if I'm slow on the uptake.

    The knee ascender takes the place of :

    a) the pantin
    or
    b) the hand ascender?

    Are you recommending Haas or similar?
     
  8. Tom Dunlap

    Tom Dunlap Administrator

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    Neither.

    Look in On Rope for illustrations of the three ascender setup. You'll see the knee ascender.

    The HAAS is a highly refined knee ascender setup.
     
  9. DSMc

    DSMc Well-Known Member

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    It replaces the upper hand ascender and foot loop. The HAAS works great, but any configuration of a knee ascender would work also. The Hitch Hiker will advance smoothly and efficiently with both ascenders pulling slack from underneath it. Having both hands free for balance and guiding yourself around branches is a real treat.

    David
     
  10. macswan

    macswan Well-Known Member

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    I agree with David. Once I got rid of my handled ascender with foot loop, I was a much happier camper. I use the haas with a rope wrench and a cmi foot ascender on every ascent. I'm faster than I thought I could be.

    I am more interested in the HH now that I am seeing these options for pulley slack tending, gonna havta try one of those.
     
  11. whiz

    whiz Active Member

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    I have a loner HH but haven't used it yet. Now I'm more inspired. Mick if I had your vocabulary when I first got started I would have avoided a lot of headache, man. Great first post. Glad you're here. We'll climb together some time for sure.
     
  12. Mark Chisholm

    Mark Chisholm Administrator

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    Glad you found us Mick! You've already inspired me with your enthusiasm. Thanks! [​IMG]
     
  13. MickCPitlick

    MickCPitlick Member

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    Hi Mark,

    I am in Monmouth County, which I understand is your territory. (I've also checked up the Aspen pages - very impressive - I now know who to call for real work).

    Anyhow, you might tip me off as to learning and social climbing opportunities within, say, a 100 mile radius. Thanks.
     
  14. swingdude

    swingdude De' Island Buzzer

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    Great post lovely read, your writing is prose like...I agree of all climbing gear, rope is my fav..I collect and get rid of many hanks...I try it all...most that know me well know I am a rope whore for climbing line, rigging lines and prussics...any how...I am a wrencher, soon to be a runner...the wrench is light and fast...and I no longer climb DRT ( exept to descend palms I am doing spikeless ) so it is a moot thing personally for a universal tool like the UNI and HH...but whatever tickles your fancy, power to you...limbwalks are easy with a wrench, just takes some practice and getting used to...but again choice...keep up the climbing and welcome to the buzz....
     
  15. Marden

    Marden Member

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    Mick,

    Great post. Glad to see you are enjoying this.

    I am on Long Island, but would welcome joining any of you to do a Rec Climb in the area (I am recovering from the Flu or I would have gone on the CT climb yesterday).

    I started using the RW, but switched to the Uni over the summer. Both have their merits and worth exploring. I did not get the HH, but would love to try one if we meet for a rec climb.

    Regards,
    Michael
     
  16. SawGod

    SawGod New Member

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    Hey Mick. What an interesting story. I usually don't have the attention span for an indoor pursuit like reading long forum post like that, but you hit a home run, Bud.

    Maybe an engineer can tell me this. I'm using the rope wrench and one of the benefits it is purported to have is as a heat sink for the friction hitch on descent. I don't really get that part as they never touch. If the RW and prussic met, you couldn't control the knot.

    Play the prusik like a violin. Haha. Man that's good stuff.
     
  17. Bucknut

    Bucknut Well-Known Member

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    You may be thinking of the HH and not the wrench. The spine of the HH is metal and acts as a heat sink for the friction created by the rope running thru the HH, which means less friction and heat for the hitch to deal with.

    The wrench doesn't act as a heat sink per se (I don't think), but it does obviously take a large portion of the climber's weight off the hitch, so again there is less friction and therefore less heat for the hitch to deal with.
     
  18. MickCPitlick

    MickCPitlick Member

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    Just saw this. On the heat sink question it works as follows. Total friction is comprised of two parts - the RW and the cordage hitch. Both get hot. But the hitch contributes less friction than it would if were used alone. Therefore, while not a heat sink, the RW does reduce the heat in the friction hitch.
     
  19. Caulerpa

    Caulerpa New Member

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    Hi MickCPitlick, how to you like using rigging plate on the bridge better than swivel or ring? And could you let me know which model do you use?
     
  20. MickCPitlick

    MickCPitlick Member

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    I am using a 3 hole CT rated for 36 KN.
    http://www.treestuff.com/store/catalog.asp?item=1761

    But a DMM Bat XS is more compact.

    Seems to me that for SRT the rigging plate is a good solution. It gives the attachment facility you might get with a hitch climber, but of course no hitch climber is needed with
    SRT, hence rigging plate. The plate gives the required one phase orientation shift, which would otherwise require an extra carabiner or a swivel, but the full rotation of the swivel is not needed in this system, so I think it's a good solution. I typically hook the HH, and HAAS dog snap on and then have one hole left for a CE lanyard configured as a 2nd SRT positioning line. Now I'm trying out Kevin Bingham's DRT ideas, and for that I find best to use a second bridge which I have fashioned out of 8mm Petzl Vector tied on with scaffold knots to the Sequoia's split ring system and a swivel on it. Someday I might switch to a second Sequoia web bridge.
     
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