How do you “ethically” ascend redwoods with weak anchor branches?

Ptstreeguy

Member
about to become a certified arborist next month , I have climbed a lot of redwoods with a MRS , mostly using spikes, when no safe branches were within range. I’m wondering how to ascend the tree without causing damage . What are my options?
 

moss

Well-Known Member
Two-stage it with a crossbow or get it done with a big slingshot, I have a customized Big Shot that will send 1.75mm throwlne/10 oz weight up into the 130' range. How high do you need to go to get good anchors?
-AJ
 

SeanRuel

Well-Known Member
SRT and some kind of line launcher

Get the assistance of local climbers ir ask Humboldt university profs what they are using
 

moss

Well-Known Member
SRT and some kind of line launcher

Get the assistance of local climbers ir ask Humboldt university profs what they are using
They're using crossbows and fishing reels, then pulling up a throwline, then the rope. One of the APTA-style launchers will do it or a well-tuned Big Shot, depending on what the typical heights are you'll need to reach. You can fire a 4 oz weight with a Big Shot and fishing reel and get massive height but... I hate two-staging it with fishing line, massive pain in the butt.
-AJ
 

Ptstreeguy

Member
Two-stage it with a crossbow or get it done with a big slingshot, I have a customized Big Shot that will send 1.75mm throwlne/10 oz weight up into the 130' range. How high do you need to go to get good anchors?
-AJ
Some of the redwoods I have worked on recently have been stripped to the sky 100+’ and honestly most redwoods have very brittle branch unions so unless I get a really good shot that high then I don’t know how to ascend without spikes
 

John@TreeXP

Well-Known Member
Using a trigger enabled BigShot with a fishing reel and a two foot longer pole extension, should do the trick. I've also seen a drone demonstration, but the components can be a bit pricey. An air cannon throw bag launcher is another option. Success can vary and it really depends on the characteristics of the actual tree. The lead climber takes the risk, since it's usually hard or impossible to see where a line goes through a Redwood's upper canopy, so you'll need to use gut instincts and base-test the strength of the basal anchored TIP, before committing yourself to the initial TIP. Once the lead climber reaches the TIP and re-secures it, things are a lot safer for sure after that. Having a Raptor or a Ronin for that initial ascent isn't a bad idea either.
 

moss

Well-Known Member
Some of the redwoods I have worked on recently have been stripped to the sky 100+’ and honestly most redwoods have very brittle branch unions so unless I get a really good shot that high then I don’t know how to ascend without spikes
If you can set your rope over multiple limbs/branches close enough to the trunk and you're climbing single rope/SRT/SRS you can get secure settings that are as low risk as any line setting in any tree. A quality pair of binoculars is key so you can check things out as far as where exactly your rope is sitting.

Are these typically second or third growth redwoods? If so they are definitely tricky, downward sloping small diameter limbs, super slippery bark, I'm sure you know the story. Getting over a few of them is the ticket for security, climb on a base anchored line, switch over to a canopy anchor once you're where you want to be.
-AJ
 

Woodwork

Well-Known Member
I've only seen redwoods in person once, when on vacation in CA, but it seemed like the bark was super thick, way thicker than the length of spurs. Does it hurt them to spur up them? Or is the issue that it's unsafe to spur up them because (maybe) the bark isn't strong enough to hold spurs well?

(I understand that one wouldn't necessarily want to go 150' up on nothing but spurs and a lanyard, but just trying to learn more about the trees and their bark. Sorry if this is somewhat OT.)

[ETA: I remember camping in a grove of redwoods, I think in Big Sur, and noticed that a lot of the trees had charred bark. I remember wondering whether they were charred by idiot campers screwing around with fires, or whether it was due to lightning. Is charred bark a common thing to see in wild, "untouched" redwood groves? If so, I guess it's mostly from lightning?]
 
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moss

Well-Known Member
...The lead climber takes the risk, since it's usually hard or impossible to see where a line goes through a Redwood's upper canopy, so you'll need to use gut instincts and base-test the strength of the basal anchored TIP, before committing yourself to the initial TIP. Once the lead climber reaches the TIP and re-secures it, things are a lot safer for sure after that. Having a Raptor or a Ronin for that initial ascent isn't a bad idea either.
Good comments although I think you're describing rope setting and climbing in old-growth redwoods. I suspect that tree work in the PNW is happening more in second or third growth redwoods. They're still very tall/large trees but if the trees are stripped up to 100' as described there's going to be good visibility to assess line placement. There should be close to zero risk for anchor blowout for work (or rec) climbing on the initial ascent, that is achievable with good throwing skill (whatever tool you use) and strong anchor quality assessment skills. It is unacceptable to be getting on rope and be wondering "Am I going to survive getting up into this tree?"
-AJ
 

Ptstreeguy

Member
If you can set your rope over multiple limbs/branches close enough to the trunk and you're climbing single rope/SRT/SRS you can get secure settings that are as low risk as any line setting in any tree. A quality pair of binoculars is key so you can check things out as far as where exactly your rope is sitting.

Are these typically second or third growth redwoods? If so they are definitely tricky, downward sloping small diameter limbs, super slippery bark, I'm sure you know the story. Getting over a few of them is the ticket for security, climb on a base anchored line, switch over to a canopy anchor once you're where you want to be.
-AJ
Ya that’s exactly my problem , near impossible shots on thin downward facing branches and most of the time my company climbs MRS and will just spur up if the bark is “thick enough” . All in all the branches don’t usually seem load supportive and I am at an Impass , I haven’t tried a shot threw with a basal tie yet and SRS upped one yet, but like I said earlier most branches are pretty sad... and I know the forces are multiplied with a basal anchor. Should I just shoot it threw a bunch of branches if possible and base tie it , testing it with a couple guys ya kin on it ?
 

Ptstreeguy

Member
I've only seen redwoods in person once, when on vacation in CA, but it seemed like the bark was super thick, way thicker than the length of spurs. Does it hurt them to spur up them? Or is the issue that it's unsafe to spur up them because (maybe) the bark isn't strong enough to hold spurs well?
Most of the time I would say my spurs do not puncture threw the bark like 95% for sure. But the question is basically your not supposed to climb a live tree with spikes unless your removing it according to isa hooplah
 

evo

Well-Known Member
Reds and older Doug fir do have very thick bark, it’s an adaptation to survive wild fires. Hence the charred bark. The First Nations would commonly do “prescribed” burns too.

Yes gaffs don’t always penetrate the thick bark, certainly more so with pole gaffs. But this bark does thin out quite rapidly, and you will injure the tree well below the first limb. Rope climbs are very doable, with the above mentioned techniques. Just like anything, it takes practice, and learning from someone knowable.
 

moss

Well-Known Member
Should I just shoot it threw a bunch of branches if possible and base tie it , testing it with a couple guys ya kin on it ?
That’s it. Test it out/practice on smaller trees if you can. You can oppose the direction of the sloping branches with your base tie, make the base anchor on another tree if it’s available to improve angles, doesn’t solve it but it helps. You can also keep a lanyard around the trunk as you go up, no different time-wise than spiking up right? ;-)
-AJ
 

Ptstreeguy

Member
That’s it. Test it out/practice on smaller trees if you can. You can oppose the direction of the sloping branches with your base tie, make the base anchor on another tree if it’s available to improve angles, doesn’t solve it but it helps. You can also keep a lanyard around the trunk as you go up, no different time-wise than spiking up right? ;-)
-AJ
Air launcher here I come ...... will try these as soon as I get the chance . Hopefully soon thank u all
 

rico

Well-Known Member
A good line launcher (APTA) and rope walking set up is essential, but NEVER trust redwood limbs with your life if there is a shred of uncertainty. Ever! You will die!!!!

If this is any doubt you must employ the flip-line around the trunk as you rope walk technique or simply spur up.. Despite what a bunch of arborists with basically zero knowledge of climbing Redwoods will tell you, a redwood could give a rats ass if you put some spurs in it....Fucking things don't even know your are there. If you want to be really concencious you can wipe your gaffs down with bleach or alcohol before each climb to make sure your are not spreading disease. This is a good practice no matter what or where you are climbing...


Richard's video gives you an idea of the basic technique, but please DO Not take a wrap with your flipline or you will be going nowhere, real quick. You must also be good with a flip-line or it will be tough to be very efficient in anything 3ft and over.....Once you get the technique down you are simply rolling your flip-line up the tree as you simultaneously rope walk.

You are welcome to PM me if you have more question about climbing Reds, and welcome to TB and happy holidays..
 
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Ptstreeguy

Member
A good line launcher (APTA) and rope walking set up is essential, but NEVER trust redwood limbs with your life if there is a shred of uncertainty. Ever! You will die!!!!

If this is any doubt you must employ the flip-line around the trunk as you rope walk technique or simply spur up.. Despite what a bunch of arborists with basically zero knowledge of climbing Redwoods will tell you, a redwood could give a rats ass if you put some spurs in it....Fucking things don't even know your are there. If you want to be really concencious you can wipe your gaffs down with bleach or alcohol before each climb to make sure your are not spreading disease. This is a good practice no matter what or where you are climbing...With some practice it can and will become a nice fluid motion...


Richard's video gives you an idea of the basic technique, but please DO Not take a wrap with your flipline or you will be going nowhere, real quick. You must also be good with a flip-line or it will be tough to be very efficient in anything 3ft and over.....Once you get the technique down you are simply rolling your flip-line up the tree as you simultaneously rope walk.

You are welcome to PM me if you have more question about climbing Reds, and welcome to TB and happy holidays..
Thank u , it seems a lot of the time, that’s the only option is spikes , and I know that with dif companies, they all have dif techniques. But with a community of tree guys I’d get an answer. The redwood limbs are usually untrustworthy and when I get up in them and press on branches they pop right off. I like the plan tho . I’ll acquire a air cannon , ( our big shot doesn’t got the oomph) and try to shoot threw a bunch of branches basal tie (possible on another tree) and then air walk with a flip an spikes if the branches don’t seem awesome. I am tired of wondering if I’m gonna kiss the ground. I am almost certain that all of the larger furs and redwoods have more then enough bark to accommodate my spikes , the only reason I’m asking is because I’m moving to a state that has no contractors license and being a certified Arborist holds weight. I just want to follow their rules if it’s possible
 

fall_risk

Well-Known Member
Don't forget traverses from other trees that are easier to get into if that's an option. Another thing to not rush at blindly or learn as you go, and obviously only possible if the other tree is there, but something to keep in mind. Read "the wild trees", Steve Sillett climbed his first redwood by jumping to the first branch from a smaller Douglas fir next to it that he free soloed, no rope involved.

Sent from my E6910 using Tapatalk
 

John@TreeXP

Well-Known Member
Good comments although I think you're describing rope setting and climbing in old-growth redwoods. I suspect that tree work in the PNW is happening more in second or third growth redwoods. They're still very tall/large trees but if the trees are stripped up to 100' as described there's going to be good visibility to assess line placement. There should be close to zero risk for anchor blowout for work (or rec) climbing on the initial ascent, that is achievable with good throwing skill (whatever tool you use) and strong anchor quality assessment skills. It is unacceptable to be getting on rope and be wondering "Am I going to survive getting up into this tree?"
-AJ
Indeed, I was referring to mostly old growth redwoods, coastal redwoods in particular. Old growth Sierra redwoods are similar, and the base and limb diameter can be significantly bigger than the coastal redwoods. Above a certain level in either types of redwoods, locating a throw line's placement can be difficult in many instances. When setting an initial throw line over 150' up, I still maintain that placement can be dicey until the lead climber reaches it to make necessary adjustments. I have both 100'+ doug firs and cedars in my neighborhood, and without a direct unobstructed throw line, a multi-limb TIP with a basal anchor is almost always necessary. Using a drone to video the TIP is another way to confirm the integrity of the line placement if binoculars are inadequate, and pre-climb bounce testing to better ensure the integrity of a limb's strength is mission critical.

I also frown upon using spurs for tree work when not felling a tree, although doug firs may be the exception, given the thickness and ruggedness of the bark. Redwood bark is a bit more fragile and flaky compared to dougs, but it could likely handle spurs without inflicting too much harm to the tree, if there's no other viable alternative. Just be careful not to hit anyone when lowering a dislodged 12 foot long, tree foot wide and 4" thick sliver of bark, like I did on my last old-growth coastal redwood climb.
 
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