Ropetek and Rock Exotica step up?


Believe me when I say that there are answers to all your questions above.

There is not sinister conspiracy at play here.

The highest standards are being applied to assure consistent, replicable, backed-up and responsible decisions. Are we always spot on? Certainly not, I will be the first to admit this. But do we try to continuously improve, from event to event? Yes, I believe we do, as I am sure you can confirm after having attended the event in Milwaukee.

I am not interested in getting involved in in-depth discussions on-line, as I feel that with passions running high, the scope for misunderstandings is also high.

And that is not what is needed now.

What we need right now is a balanced, thoughtful dialogue involving all stakeholders. We went to considerable efforts to move forwards in order be able to allow the Rope Wrench in Milwaukee, which was possible, thanks also to Rich Hattier's efforts. Yes, there was compromise in regards to the configuration, but some things just take time to fall into place and do not happen over night. Having said that, if the quality of the final result is improved by taking the time to work through issues, rather than launching something half-cocked just to have it back fire on you, I believe the former to be the wiser route to take.

The mid term goal shall be to establish a set of performance criteria that apply across the board to all equipment and techniques, regardless of configuration.

But again, as all of this is based upon volunteer work this process just takes time. The ITCC Performance Criteria document has been put out for review twice (we received next to no feedback on it – but that is another story), and the next step will be to finalize that document and by doing so to create a common benchmark that people can reference when considering systems to use in the competitions.

Hope this helps to clarify things, I will be more than happy to take time to discuss this matter further, face to face, when we next meet in Tampa – or someplace else.


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Active Member
At our recent PNW chapter TCC the judges made the decision to do what they have always done (that is, until a few years ago when ISA stepped in and told them to stop): they assessed climbing systems presented to them using their expertise. I brought my rope wrench system, using a ZK-2 on an ABR tether with 8mm armour prus tied in a VT on Yale Valkyrie static line, which was approved by the judges. The whole process took 20 minutes, and I climbed at the comp on the system I use everyday at work and trust my life to.

The ITCC ruling on configurations for the rope wrench is baffling and yet again seems to create a blatant double standard which is widely ridiculed by the judges, techs and climbers at our events in the PNW. I understand and appreciate the volunteer hours that have gone into this process, but this is not the time for anyone to be feeling self congratulatory. This should have been taken care of years ago, and the never ending drama and obstructionism has given the ISA a serious black eye.

I worry that many of the (especially younger) climbers don't see the important programs that ISA is working on, and instead envision an old-boys club that takes a paternalistic, top-down approach to the changes in our industry. How many of them will volunteer or become members of that organization?

"The mid term goal shall be to establish a set of performance criteria that apply across the board to all equipment and techniques, regardless of configuration."
Mark, if I understand correctly, are you saying that the current ITCC ruling on only using a rope wrench in a single, pre-approved configuration will persist until this performance criteria is completed? Is there a timetable here? This sounds like a process which will take years.

Sorry to be so negative here, but I feel that I must chime in because I'm finding this dialogue extremely unsatisfying all around.


Well-Known Member
"The ITCC ruling on configurations for the rope wrench is baffling and yet again seems to create a blatant double standard which is widely ridiculed by the judges, techs and climbers at our events in the PNW."

Same bewilderment about this issue here in MN. It's ridiculous to think that the only safe configuration is a Schwabish hitch on Kernmaster, that's just the example that the ISC techs used when they made the recommendation, and I commend them for their thoroughness in explaining their testing procedure but they may have been too specific. Here's the reply I got from ISA when I asked if I could tie a Michoacan on The Fly:

"The only configuration accepted under the ITCC rules is the configuration tested by ISC and shown in their guidelines for use. This includes exact knot configuration, type of rope and prusik material. Rule 2.2.1 states that equipment must be considered appropriate for tree climbing and must reflect "Best practice" Best practice is defined as reading and following the manufacturer’s instructions which quite clearly state configuration."

The only thing clear about this is that the person who wrote that has most likely never read the RW Users Manual and quite possibly never used the device. It's hogwash and I don't know why they're being so stubborn about this.
I guess I will be spending a few hundred bones on cord and hardware just so that I can run my wrench on comp day...what a joke. It really is dissapointing to hone a skill and enjoy it's effectiveness day in and day out and then come comp day, to be informed that it must not be used...that if you want to climb with the other kids, you have to use other tools that you are not as comfortable (safe/efficient) with, or you can sit and watch. I know that it probably just a matter of time and this will all blow over but in one week, I will climb at my chapter comp and have to make significant adjustments to my system and routine in order to participate. This same thing happened to me earlier this year at our first comp. I made the masters and when I asked about ascending with a uni, backed up by a second connection to a handled ascender, I was shot down. It threw me off... I went to another comp this year that allowed several progressive variations of rope climbing and it was really refreshing to see more than just the Ddrt/Footlock monotony of the ITCC model. don't get me wrong...I cherish my hitch climber Ddrt setup, and there is something very pure about footlocking a rope with bare hands, but for longevity and productivity there are other ways to go about the business with greater return on investment that when added to the toolbox and blended with the other tools in the box, a certain harmony can be achieved that is not possible within the current format. I will still choose to participate under ITCC rules and do my best to master the techniques and tools that are required because I have a deep love for the sport of tree climbing, but i will look forward to JAMBO more. Sincere thanks to all involved in both comp formats for all you do to promote safety and innovation. See you next weekend Eric! Now I gotta find some of that Kern and some ISC aluminum!! Good thing I ddidn't throw out that old beeline. Lol.