Who has experience as a 'Lead Climber'?

#1
I'm going to be conducting a trial with another company in a new area at the end of the year to be employed as Lead Climber.
Though by the time I do this trial, I'll have been climbing for only three years, in the game for four.

It's clear to me that I'm still green to this game, given the breadth of knowledge and experience acquired by those (some of you, too!) who have been climbing for years more than I have.
I am a tenacious lad though, love my work and know exactly what I'm capable of and am not afraid to keep stretching my limits and expanding my skillset, so despite my few years experience I'm going for this opportunity all the same.
Worst case scenario, it doesn't work out.

Have you worked as a Lead Climber? If so, how experienced were you at the time you took on the role?
What tales, cautions and direction can you share to help someone like myself maximise their potential as they embark on what is really a bold move?

Cheers
 

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
#3
Perth, eh?

What height/ spread of trees do you have there?
What part of the market is the company filling and wanting to fill?
What are you climbing now?
What kind of climbing system are you using?
How's your throw line game?

How much time do you have to train?
 

pctree

Well-Known Member
#4
IMO when an employer looks to hire a lead climber they are looking for someone who can bang out work, not just you but the crew as a whole. I think your drive will go a really long way in achieving this goal, try to make your jobsite a fun place to be as you crank out work, day in day out. Consistency is key, being able to keep a crew productive is more important than knowing all the latest tricks. Ask for suggestions and consider them, your new crew hopefully knows how to implement available tools. The boss wants to make money, this is achieved through production volume, not using a "Double flying Dutchman with a wiz "notch.
Work as smart and as hard as you can and you will succeed .
 
#6
About being organised. Also about developing good or effective relationship with crew. About being prepared for the unknown.

Also try to be in the know regarding local bylaws and keep a spare PPE kit as something always goes missing or left behind and as crew leader you will often cop the responsibility.

Also have a check list as when you are bombarded with questions whilst prepping for the day its easy to miss: equipment, tools, fuel card, or notes/paperwork - especially for last minute additions/alterations.

Also make sure you have phone numbers of your crew, the boss, and 2IC and other admin or senior staff to chase up options should the worklist stall for any reason, or an accident happens onsite, and ensure you have a working phone (including battery backup if you need it).

In regards to communications

If it is possible make it a habit to discuss options with boss/scheduler the night before should the forecast days jobs stall and they are often not contactable.

If you can try to schedule a progress report time with the boss, or scheduler at a certain time in the morning in case of issues. This works both for delays, too quick progress, or clients altering job mid way through.

Problems I have experienced were compounded by no one being available to answer my call for assistance/approval which results in wasted time and therefore poor productivity on those occasions.
 
#7
I started climbing in 2002 at the age of 22. By 2005 at the age of 25, I had stuck around at the company I worked for long enough for everyone above me to quit and I became foreman and lead climber. I was pretty good at what I did, good enough to get it done in a timely fashion without doing property damage or getting anyone hurt. I was always a lead from the front kind of foreman. When I got out of the tree, I picked up a log. The owner would tell me to let the ground guys do all the ground work, I told him, they won't respect me if I don't do ground work.
One of the biggest disadvantages of being the top guy in a company at an early point in your career is that you could be limited in what you are exposed to in the future. After I was lead climber and foreman for a while, I ended up quitting to become a middle of the pack climber at a "better" company. Once I had learned most of what I could there, I moved again and got a job as a crew foreman and climber at a much larger company. Every time I learned from more climbers who I wouldn't have had experience with had I stayed put. Every company has turn over and you will get to learn from guys that come through, but it is limited when you stay in one place.
I eventually went back to the first company and got my general foreman/lead climber job back for a lot more money. Now I own my own very small company. If you are comfortable enough with yourself and your skills, go for the good job! Just keep an open mind and keep learning from whoever is around. Every climber will have something you can learn from, even if you are clearly an all around better climber.
 
#9
Great content guys, I've been really enjoying your feedback so, thankyou.

To answer the earlier questions.
What I imagine by Lead Climber is the Crew Leader. One who calls the shots and possesses the most overall capabilities.

To Southsoundtree,
'Perth, eh? '
The area will be Margaret River, south of Perth.

'What height/ spread of trees do you have there?'
The trees vary greatly, though are commonly 50ft to 100ft if my memory from my previous visit is accurate.
There are also some absolute monsters for Rec climbing in the state forest. Lots of Eucalyptus.

'What part of the market is the company filling and wanting to fill?'
At a glance the applied for company services local residential and commercial needs, pruning, removals and treatment.

'What are you climbing now?'
I'm climbing smaller trees, and tall palms mostly as that is what Northern WA has to offer. A 70ft climb here is often seen as a big climb.

'What kind of climbing system are you using?'
Hitch Climber or ZigZag
Will be experimenting with SRT as of this weekend should my new RopeWrench arrive.

'How's your throw line game?'
Moderate

'How much time do you have to train?'
Til December
 
#10
I think a lot of companies are looking for their lead climber to basically be able to take over day to day operations on the job sites so the owner can go off and do the business stuff like estimates, etc. Depending on how big of a company we are talking obviously, but I know first hand around here that companies have told me that exactly. The owner needs a "lead guy" who can run things on the job so they can go do their business stuff.

Depending on the companies structure you're basically second in charge to the owner as far as giving instructions to other crew members, creating a game plan for tackling a tree, etc.
 

rope-a-dope

Well-Known Member
#11
I lead a crew (usually) and one of the most important and difficult resposibilities is deciding to shut down a risky job.
The last one I had was an easy call, but they usually arent. Steady rain with powerlines in/under/on most of the trees accept for a reduction prune over the house. No, thank you.
Funny than most "lead" positions expect you to climb all the hard shit AND supervise the crew as well...
 
#14
Most monkeys can climb, like literally... and most halfwits can run chainsaws... but a "lead" position, requires a two way street of respect, communication & efficiency with the other people on your team as well as possessing the compassion to care, courage to act & capacity to think. I've known some of the most premier-top level climbers out there that just can't muster any of that & will always be in the shadow of others who can lead teams in this industry. Good technical skills certainly matter, but only account for so much. Biggest tips I can lend: Buy your crew gatorades once a week on hot days, and have the owner fork over the credit card for a pizza delivery lunch once a month, and never ask your team to do something you can't do yourself... :)
 
#16
That's a good one.

Kind of like, if you don't feel comfortable doing something don't put someone else at risk by asking them to do it for you instead.
Including that of course, but even things like expectations on how much material can be moved efficiently, how many hours til exhaustion becomes a factor, pretty much putting yourself in the subordinates shoes & having knowledge of exactly how tough this work can be.. which ultimately, "leads", shouldn't be leads unless they've put the time in grunting all the angles of the industry. I actually battle that nearly constantly on a daily basis in my current gig, the boss man is an ex logger, never known a day of groundwork in his life (well, some to a degree, but day after day week after production work, never) which sets his expectations at unreasonable levels. Its easy to point & say "clean that up" when you've never pulled apart a giant rats nest of a dozen dropped trees... fortunately I pride myself on my diplomacy in being able to push back & correct his expectations :) But yeah, a lead without compassion for just how grunting this crap can be, ain't gonna last in this business.
 
#17
That's a good one.

Kind of like, if you don't feel comfortable doing something don't put someone else at risk by asking them to do it for you instead.
That’s a broad statement. Just cuz u may not be comfortable doesn’t mean there isn’t another guy that is. That doesn’t mean he’s an idiot, maybe he’s good and more experienced. Not everyone is cut out for or wants a lead position. Pull your own weight or everyone will question u.
 
#18
That’s a broad statement. Just cuz u may not be comfortable doesn’t mean there isn’t another guy that is. That doesn’t mean he’s an idiot, maybe he’s good and more experienced. Not everyone is cut out for or wants a lead position. Pull your own weight or everyone will question u.
I get what you're saying. Maybe I worded it wrong. I was more so saying don't be that guy that just says you don't want to do it so someone else will. I mean there's a difference between saying this is out of my capabilities and then just ordering someone to do it when really you aren't comfortable doing it but you are trying to protect your ego you know what I mean?

That's another good sign of a leader is being able to openly acknowledge your limitations. This is just my opinion of course. Agree or disagree. But I know I rather be led by someone who can look at something and say, I need help with this or I need someone more experienced versus attempting to do something that they have no business doing and then either harming themselves or the crew or causing damage.
 
#19
That’s a broad statement. Just cuz u may not be comfortable doesn’t mean there isn’t another guy that is. That doesn’t mean he’s an idiot, maybe he’s good and more experienced. Not everyone is cut out for or wants a lead position. Pull your own weight or everyone will question u.
To be honest I was referring to comfort more along the lines of safety. Which, as a lead, if I make the call I'm not willing to take a certain risk, I'm certainly not allowing a subordinate with less experience to take it. The companies equipment, reputation, safety of crew, clients property, insurance etc. is all riding on the lead/foremans judgement specifically because (hopefully) they are the ones who have the experience & can recognize a dangerous situation... way way too much bravado & ego in this industry where crew members want to prove their worth by doing something the lead recognizes as not safe... That call, is hopefully why the lead is being paid to, well, lead.
 
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