So.. Free Climbing?

samsquatch

Well-Known Member
Section 6.2.

So the Fed Forest Service is describing a scenario when you can move about the tree crown without being tied in? Are they - and their employees - not required to follow Z133?

I mean I get it, I've climbed a tree as a kid without being tied in and lived to tell the tale. But a publication of the Forestry Service is explaining a situation where that is acceptable?

What am I missing?
 

samsquatch

Well-Known Member
6.2 Free Climbing
Free climbing, as used in tree climbing, refers to climbing without the added security of a safety
line or lanyard. Free climbing may be done in the live crown of trees that have sound, live branches
strong enough to support the climber’s weight. Free climbing is limited to the area below the
4-inch-bole diameter level, where the density of branches is such that the installation of the lanyard
poses a greater risk. Free climbing may also be used for ascending and descending a secured
ladder. It should not be done in trees with steeply down sloping branches. When free climbing in
the live crown you should do the following:
  1. Use the three-point climbing system.
  2. Place your feet and hands on branches as close to the bole as possible. When the limb diameter is less than 3 inches, wedge your foot into the bole at the base of the limb.
  3. Never use a dead branch, branch stub, or unsound live branch for support. Remove unsafe branches, if possible, during the ascent to eliminate the possibility of using them.
  4. Never place both hands or both feet on a single sound, live branch less than 3 inches in diameter.
  5. Keep your body close to vertical and close to the bole.
  6. When suitable branches are far apart in the live crown and it is difficult to maintain three points of contact, use a lanyard around the tree or suitable branch or place tree steps or etriers to aid in climbing.
  7. When using etriers, attach them to the tree above a branch whorl with rope or webbing and attach the bottom of the etrier to the tree bole for secure placement. Always use a lanyard when using tree steps or etriers for support.
  8. Whenever stopping to rest or perform any task, always secure yourself by placing a lanyard around the bole or a suitable branch.
 
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DSMc

Well-Known Member
The Forest Service climbing guide is a well thought out instruction manual covering many aspects of tree climbing. If you work in the trees long enough, there will come a time when something needs to be done that is beyond the scope of normal tree climbing activities.

Training manuals do best when they give guidance for whatever you might run into.
 

samsquatch

Well-Known Member
The Forest Service climbing guide is a well thought out instruction manual covering many aspects of tree climbing. If you work in the trees long enough, there will come a time when something needs to be done that is beyond the scope of normal tree climbing activities.

Training manuals do best when they give guidance for whatever you might run into.
I wanna say maybe. But no, I disagree, this document is exactly what they're going to give the greenhorn 19yr old when they ask him to check the crown of a tree for research/silviculture reasons.
That 19yr old should not be allowed to enter the tree for the first time believing that Free Climbing is an option.
 
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DSMc

Well-Known Member
I wanna say maybe. But no, I disagree, this document is exactly what they're going to give the greenhorn 19yr old when they ask him to check the crown of a tree for research/silviculture reasons.
That 19yr old should not be allowed to enter the tree for the first time believing that Free Climbing is an option.
What did you think of their cover picture of a climber using just a flipline and spurs?

You are certainly entitled to your opinion, and you would not be alone. I personally like more latitude, and getting instruction for difficult and unique situations.
 

Mowerr

Well-Known Member
I think I see his climb line hanging and a second lanyard Daisy chained on the back side of his harness.
 

DSMc

Well-Known Member
Sure, but neither are being used so it's climbing on a single point of attachment.
 

Talon Tree Service

Active Member
I’ve been production climbing for 3 years and I haven’t ever free climbed. Zero interest in it. I also always use 2 tie in points to make a cut. I’m 100% self taught and common sense and a will to live taught me not to free climb. I find it pretty irresponsible for any sort of training or safety manual to condone free climbing at any height. A fall from 14ft paralyzed my aunt as a kid, it really doesn’t take much
 

Jehinten

Well-Known Member
where the density of branches is such that the installation of the lanyard
poses a greater risk.
I'm curious about this statement. the only risk I can think of when deploying a lanyard is it slowing down progress if its hitting limbs on the back side of the trunk. Certainly not a safety risk, apart from a hazard tree which I assume this is not referencing.

I've climbed my fair share of pin oak that had never been trimmed. The lower canopy is always crowded with dead wood to the point where you cannot ascend straight up through it without cutting a path and yet I've still not seen a "risk" in using a lanyard.
 
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SomethingWitty

Arkansawyer
I've lost a lot of my nerve for it, but I started off free climbing after working ground all day. We did it for my entire first year.
We'd hike to a cool tree or two, carry up a joint and a six pack, catch a buzz, and run to the ground.
I still have a pine tree with a great view that I like to climb every year or so overlooking the river above a ~300' cliff. I haven't been in a while. I should go see it.


I am tied in when I am working. My headspace is different when I am playing.
That instruction is pretty good, but I'm not cleaning up any carcasses on my jobsite. (Not even one over my entire career.)
 

Winchman

Active Member
I carried an extension ladder deep into the woods when I was about thirteen to get to the lower limbs of the tallest tree around. I proceeded to free climb as close to the top as I dared. It was an unforgettable thrill to look out over the surrounding forest and fields. Equally unforgettable was the royal ass-chewing I got when I was caught bringing the ladder back and had to 'fess up about my adventure.
 

Chaplain242

Well-Known Member
I wanna say maybe. But no, I disagree, this document is exactly what they're going to give the greenhorn 19yr old when they ask him to check the crown of a tree for research/silviculture reasons.
That 19yr old should not be allowed to enter the tree for the first time believing that Free Climbing is an option.
That 19yo would probably get intoxicated and end up that tree one night regardless..
 

Reach

Well-Known Member
I did some free climbing once, in a tree that was truly impossible to fall out of. It was a Zelkova, the miserable thing had so many limbs so close together the only way in was to climb halfway up the tree on the outside of all the limbs and squeeze through the side. Once inside I was in such a cage falling out would have been completely impossible! The only way to get a line in the tree to begin with was to shoot it through a four inch gap between limbs at the base, to a target even narrower up top!
 

Serf Life

Well-Known Member
I’ve been production climbing for 3 years and I haven’t ever free climbed. Zero interest in it. I also always use 2 tie in points to make a cut. I’m 100% self taught and common sense and a will to live taught me not to free climb. I find it pretty irresponsible for any sort of training or safety manual to condone free climbing at any height. A fall from 14ft paralyzed my aunt as a kid, it really doesn’t take much
I love free climbing for fun, but not for work. My brother took a 30'+ fall alone in the woods 6(?) Yrs ago and broke his back and neck. He was super lucky with the med team in Springfield, MA and is fully functional. Being dumb and not aware of surroundings will bite you with or without ropes or ppe. I still think ladders are more hazardous than free climbing a structurally sound tree though.
 

ATH

Well-Known Member
I'm guilty of pruning small fifteen foot ornamentals without a saddle, just a handsaw.

Particularly thorny species like Erythrina caffra, where a bodyline might keep yu from hittin the ground, which to me's preferable to slammin into thorny limbs n trunks.

Jemco
As long as you aren't above 12' it is OK by Z133...right?
 

Jemco

Well-Known Member
Never paid much attention to Z133 meself ATH.

Ever since that cablin with lags BS they promote......

Jemco
 
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