Getting comfortable in bigger trees?

#1
When you guys were first starting out, or maybe even you experience it once in a while as a seasoned climber, how do you master feelings or thoughts or hesitation, fear, etc.

I started my largest in tree removal the other day and honestly the size of the tree made me less comfortable then I am in smaller trees. All in all it's a pretty straightforward removal. Giant oak with two trunks, and because of the backyard room there isn't any crazy rigging involved like over a house, near wires etc. I already got one trunk down, and got to finish up with the last one.

All in all the first part of the take down went pretty smoothly despite feeling nervous. I think I moved smoothly through the tree and every branch I took and my rigging went exactly as planned. But I wasn't as comfortable as I am in littler trees. Does it just come with more work experience in bigger trees to get comfortable?

I guess it's like a mind game. I took down a smaller pine the other day and there were wires around it and going through it, plus a house and it was a fairly tight spot, but it seemed easier when actually it was more involved then this tree because there isn't as many obstacles. It's just the size.
 

Boomslang

Well-Known Member
#2
I think for me there seemed to be a higher likelihood of something going wrong in bigger trees. More cuts being made, more rigging being done, larger/heavier pieces involved. You're also typically up there longer so fatigue could become a factor. All these thoughts probably go through your head whether you realize it or not.

I found I became comfortable fairly quickly the more often you do them though.
 
#4
I think for me there seemed to be a higher likelihood of something going wrong in bigger trees. More cuts being made, more rigging being done, larger/heavier pieces involved. You're also typically up there longer so fatigue could become a factor. All these thoughts probably go through your head whether you realize it or not.

I found I became comfortable fairly quickly the more often you do them though.
I'm sure that's the case, it comes with time. I remember when I first put on a harness I just hovered suspended like 10-12 ft and that was it for the day lol. Needed to allow my mind to get used to it.
 

Boomslang

Well-Known Member
#5
I'm sure that's the case, it comes with time. I remember when I first put on a harness I just hovered suspended like 10-12 ft and that was it for the day lol. Needed to allow my mind to get used to it.
And the mental part is 99% of it. My first really large tree I treated it as a bunch of smaller trees. Each lead was a tree, each limb on that lead was a smaller tree. I wasn't cutting one large tree I was cutting 30 smaller trees. It was incredibly inefficient because I was going up and down constantly trying to work the "smaller" trees rather than work the one large tree as a whole, but it helped me get through it.
 

NE Tree

Well-Known Member
#6
A couple things seem to put me a bit more at ease. One is choosing a tie in point that you KNOW is solid, even if its a bit lower in the canopy than you would usually pick. This will give you a bit more security, and being a removal, a high tie in isn't crucial. Also, spend some time rec climbing in some big trees and just hang out for a while, do some swings, learn to trust yourself and the tie-ins you choose
 

rico

Well-Known Member
#7
Remember that nobody starts out wreaking 200 foot trees. You've got to pay your dues, and earn that shit. The fear you are feeling is natural, so embrace it, and work through it. Proceed at a pace that you are comfortable with, improving your skills along the way. Before you know it you will be working in trees that would have scared you in the past. Enjoy the voyage brother!
 
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NE Tree

Well-Known Member
#8
Remember that nobody starts out wreaking 200 foot trees. You've got to pay your dues, and earn that shit. The fear you are feeling is natural, so embrace it, and work through it. Proceed at a pace that you are comfortable with, improving your skills along the way. Before you know it you will be working in trees that would have scared you in the past. Enjoy the voyage brother!
That's good shit Rico :birra:
 

96coal449

Well-Known Member
#11
I think it's a natural feeling of being a bit nervous that we all get, especially in large trees. It's a good thing though. It keeps you on your toes and aware. I'm saying you can be a little nervous but still be comfortable.
For me I get nervous the most when negative rigging tops out of tall skinny trees. I hate that the most.
 
#13
I remember when I first started climbing and how scared I really was. I remember a few trees I had actually given up on because I was too uncomfortable with the rigging or the tree size in general. Now, almost 14 years of climbing, and I would say I am almost fearless. I say "almost" because I'm never 100% fearless or comfortable in a tree. I feel like being 100% comfortable leads to complacency which leads to injuries or damage or both. You have to push yourself out of your comfort zone in order to advance but at the same time, KNOW YOUR COMFORT ZONE. I've had to pluck a few scared guys from the canopies over the years. Just keep on doing it. That's the only way to get to where you want to be in this industry. You can learn a ton from watching but you will only get the skills necessary by doing the work.
 
#15
One climber I was able to coach him down but I had to physically rescue the other guy as he was clutching the tree trunk. There was no way he was coming down on his own. That particular guy is an awesome climber now by the way. He ended up getting over his fear and can now do almost any tree as well.
 
#16
If you can't keep your game face on then put up another climber. I've started a few climbs myself that once I got up there I just wasn't feeling it, told my other climbers and we just switched out, no harm, no foul, no shame. We all like to go home at the end of the day.
Another thing that I always express to my guys is if you don't have a " final destination" moment throughout your climb then you're not takin this serious enough. Fear is not knowing what will happen, naivety is not knowing what can happen. Don't let fear rule your mind, but always see all of the potential variables that could occur both good and bad.

Safety will become second nature when it is the culture and expectation of your crews.
 

Scheffa

Active Member
#17
For me it just takes time. Just like how a formula 1 driver starts in go karts and works there way up through the faster cars, it's the same with big trees.
It took me a little while to get comfortable on large trees, however the company I started working for really pushed me hard to be better, always having the option to switch out with another climber.
For me pushing myself to my limits helps me increase my potential, it is climbing that fine line of ability and ambition that can be tricky
 
#18
So today I took this dead cedar down at North Lake Tahoe. I wanted to post this here because I almost came down. I was uncomfortable with the condition and size of this tree given the drop zone, which was next to nothing. Right about the area I'm at, there is a horizontal crack 2/3 through. Clearly this tree is dead and has been for a while. I only had 2 options, one of which was to come down. The other option was to make the cut and hope I hit my target dead on. I decided to make the cut right about where I am. Worked out pretty well actually. We then rigged the rest of the tree to the adjacent pine and floated all the wood over the house. I hesitated because I didn't want to damage the peoperty below and I wasn't going to climb past where the tree was compromised. Sometimes you just have to take a few minutes and re-evaluate and then you can proceed. As I said before, always know your comfort zone. IMG_1021.JPG IMG_1022.JPG
 
#19
Appreciate the replies everyone. I'm actually going to finish taking down the tree tomorrow. It's just one of those things I have to face and conquer. I'm no stranger to climbing tall trees but this is my first big tree removal. I think once I do it I will feel better. I think it's something all climbers face at one point or another. Thanks for the helpful replies.
 

rope-a-dope

Well-Known Member
#20
I'm sure you crushed that other stem. Hold onto those moments that prove your competence to your self. Remember them along with the fear later so the process of risk assessmet and decisions is smooth and rapid.
It also helps to have a security check behavior when the anxiety strikes that emphasizes the trustworthiness of the gear and the tree. I like to sit and stand in my harness a few times after going up 70 feet first thing in the morning. Like a ritual of reassurance.
 
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