Speed line came untied at the ground

Location
Tacoma
I was recently working a young cottonwood in a backyard, growing over a newly built retaining wall. The tree was about 70', 18" dbh, and at the far edge of my comfort zone. I was speedlining everything but the wood, with the bottom of the speedline tied off to the skid steer. I zipped down 8 branches and everything worked fine. Finally I attached the top to the speedline, made a back cut, and watched it plummet straight down onto the retaining wall, crushing it, and also damaging a newly planted arborvitae. The line came untied from the skid steer when the dynamic force of the top landed in the system. Complete rigging system failure, complete loss of control.

On the ground I had two guys, one with about 1 year of experience with another crew, and the other having just started tree work this summer. Both are green but both do a REALLY good job. Great attitudes, hard workers, and they have learned really fast, requiring very little micro managing or hand-holding once they've been shown how a thing works.

So at the beginning I was up in the tree feeling puckered, and I yelled down that they should tie it off to the skid, and they said it's tied off, and I didn't even question it. I didn't specify a knot, I didn't ask what knot they used, I didn't ask where they tied it on the machine, or anything. I just assumed that these two guys who have never tied a speedline to a skid steer would know how to do it. So unknown to me they tied a clove hitch with a bite, and no back ups. It worked fine for the branches but for the top it did that thing that clove hitches do, and came completely undone.

Anyways, a speedline is a simple thing: there's a knot at the top, there's something holding it at the bottom, and there's some hardware sliding around the middle. It's not a lot to keep track of and make sure everything is right. As the climber, I am completely responsible for making sure a system is properly set up before I use it, same as making sure my climbing system is correct before I ascend. Getting complacent about checking those systems leads to failures. Failures lead to significant damage or injury. Check every knot you tie, specify a knot if you're asking someone to tie it for you, and make sure they know what they're doing, too. If there are other distractions preventing you from doing these things, address them beforehand, not after like I am doing.
 

Jonny

Well-Known Member
Location
Buffalo
Just my opinion and I’ll probably hear some strong disagreements, but I’ve found the midline clove hitch to be useful for sending a bottle of water up to the climber, and that’s about it. It can of course serve other purposes but there’s better options that stay secured better and untie easier after heavy loading.
 

VenasNursery

Well-Known Member
Location
Michigan
I was recently working a young cottonwood in a backyard, growing over a newly built retaining wall. The tree was about 70', 18" dbh, and at the far edge of my comfort zone. I was speedlining everything but the wood, with the bottom of the speedline tied off to the skid steer. I zipped down 8 branches and everything worked fine. Finally I attached the top to the speedline, made a back cut, and watched it plummet straight down onto the retaining wall, crushing it, and also damaging a newly planted arborvitae. The line came untied from the skid steer when the dynamic force of the top landed in the system. Complete rigging system failure, complete loss of control.

On the ground I had two guys, one with about 1 year of experience with another crew, and the other having just started tree work this summer. Both are green but both do a REALLY good job. Great attitudes, hard workers, and they have learned really fast, requiring very little micro managing or hand-holding once they've been shown how a thing works.

So at the beginning I was up in the tree feeling puckered, and I yelled down that they should tie it off to the skid, and they said it's tied off, and I didn't even question it. I didn't specify a knot, I didn't ask what knot they used, I didn't ask where they tied it on the machine, or anything. I just assumed that these two guys who have never tied a speedline to a skid steer would know how to do it. So unknown to me they tied a clove hitch with a bite, and no back ups. It worked fine for the branches but for the top it did that thing that clove hitches do, and came completely undone.

Anyways, a speedline is a simple thing: there's a knot at the top, there's something holding it at the bottom, and there's some hardware sliding around the middle. It's not a lot to keep track of and make sure everything is right. As the climber, I am completely responsible for making sure a system is properly set up before I use it, same as making sure my climbing system is correct before I ascend. Getting complacent about checking those systems leads to failures. Failures lead to significant damage or injury. Check every knot you tie, specify a knot if you're asking someone to tie it for you, and make sure they know what they're doing, too. If there are other distractions preventing you from doing these things, address them beforehand, not after like I am doing.
Glad no one got injured
Thank you for sharing
I will share this incident and pass the knowledge
Be Safe and keep up your great ethics
 

southsoundtree

Well-Known Member
Location
Olympia, WA
Just my opinion and I’ll probably hear some strong disagreements, but I’ve found the midline clove hitch to be useful for sending a bottle of water up to the climber, and that’s about it. It can of course serve other purposes but there’s better options that stay secured better and untie easier after heavy loading.


I'll negative-block with a clove and two half-hitches. Good enough for Reg, good enough for me
Doesn't matter which end is heavier, unlike with a square-rig. If your piece is estimated wrong, due to a crotch, hollow, etc, it may flip and load funky, best I can tell.
 

Crimsonking

Well-Known Member
I'll negative-block with a clove and two half-hitches. Good enough for Reg, good enough for me
Doesn't matter which end is heavier, unlike with a square-rig. If your piece is estimated wrong, due to a crotch, hollow, etc, it may flip and load funky, best I can tell.
Emphasis on two half hitches. I cheated for a while and used one if I didn’t have enough tail for two until one rolled out while aerial and hurt someone. Haven’t skimped since.

In the op’s scenario, I think the clove was a poor choice because- if properly locked off it might’ve cinched into a hammer knot, since it was tied to metal. When blocking down with it, the bark keeps it from jamming too tight.
 

evo

Well-Known Member
Location
My Island, WA
There is nothing wrong with a clove hitch, they do need to be backed up.

My GUESS is either they tied the knot wrong, or it was repetitively under load cycles and it worked loose.

I’m not trying to shame you, but this is your fault. It’s the lack of experience and training. you said it your self that you are unsure of how it was tied, where exactly it was tied, and the ground crew is green.

ALWAYS make a habit of double checking every thing. Part of good knot work is to use knots that are easily inspectable, it’s easy to see if they aren’t dressed, or have shifted.

Many times I use a shackle on a anchor point and hook a porty to that, or just tie straight to the shackle. For anyone who has used shackles they know they need to be babysat. They can invert, the pin can rattle loose, the friction from running rope can unscrew them. On and on... but if you have to use a shackle that can’t be babysat and checked, you better mouse it with some wire or the like. Aka you back it up. Knots are no different.

You and your ground crew NEED to know this.

Also while clove hitches have their place anchors are not one of them. Load cycles can turn them into axe knots.

Make it a habit to micro manage. “Hey Bob, tie this line off to the loader arm with a tensionless hitch dawged with a slipped clove.” When side by side and you can see what they are doing, give em some room to do it their own way (BUT CHECK!). Build trust that it’s done right, this trust takes years of teamwork to build, but in super critical situations even the best and most well oiled team will still say “hey Bob” this is how I want it done.
 
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evo

Well-Known Member
Location
My Island, WA
Just to add to what I wrote above. I’ve worked with green crews, subbed in with experienced crews. Worked with the same very well experienced guy for a 7 year run.

The details need to be called. The green ones need to be taught what those details are. Experience is the guys on the crew asking you “how do you want me to tie this off”. “How do you want me to tie your saw on”, “want a timber hitch, or cow”, or “how do you want this backed up?”
 

TheTreeSpyder

Well-Known Member
Location
Florida>>> USA
Clove is 3 arc continuous direction.
>> As like Round Turn, only crossing itself.
Would always double stop in such real usage,
And favor preceding with another Round Turn (or Half Hitch like in Killick) to take initial force , either of which can be servedfrom bight, then Clove, dbl.stopped.
.
Clove walks as even as doubled version of Taut Line.
Counter torque of Backhand Turn/off host crossing type builds counter effect some for less walk.
.
Glad no one hurt.
.
2 Halfs as stoppers continuous Clove type formation tightens harder / even as innie form of Bunt Line,
vs.
2 Halfs as stoppers in opposing turns of Cow type formation
(much easier untie after hard loading, slightly less secure)
>> even as innie form of Lobster Buoy
 

CjM

Active Member
Location
Asheville
I think about zip lines primarily as force multipliers. First time I set up a slackline we ripped a fence post out of the ground.

Where on the skid was it attached? Was this clove was tied at the terminal end of the line?

I always try to keep the working leg of the clove on the inside of the hitch. I wonder if that would have helped.

Glad yall are ok!
 

TheTreeSpyder

Well-Known Member
Location
Florida>>> USA
Should really always look to take turns (3 or more if can) around at least 8x rope diameter before whatever termination to other point (and best if not Standing Part strength wise, and if so at least double turns, to buffer (shock) loading to imperfection (even eye) to then carabinier etc. Then if not overly strong sling as main deformity, to carabinier to eye.
.
Even tho speedline has 2 support/resistors to load, the angle of this column support given, speed, impact of change etc. are a gauntlet list of very 'excitable multipliers' (each).
 

Daniel

Well-Known Member
There is nothing wrong with a clove hitch, they do need to be backed up.

They don't need to be backed up on stationary objects like a tree. they do need to be backed up on a rigged limb or wood. If the piece is cut free and moving, the knot can roll out. I've seen it happen, but it was so long ago, it's just a faint memory.
 

Benjo75

Well-Known Member
Location
Malvern
I've used a Rig N wrench at the tractor. Works good but there is about 4 inches of setback on a bigger piece as it pulls the line down. Doesn't bother anything though. I have a Tree Angel that I'm going to use next time. At least for the lighter limbs. It will be quicker than a porty and you can wrap it once or twice depending on how much help you need. Most of our limbs can be held with two people. But I only have one free most of the time.
 
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Jehinten

Well-Known Member
Location
Evansville
I've used a Rig N wrench at the tractor. Works good but there is about 4 inches of setback on a bigger piece as it pulls the line down. Doesn't bother anything though. I have a Tree Angel that I'm going to use next time. At least for the lighter limbs. It will be quicker than a porty and you can wrap it once or twice depending on how much help you need. Most of our limbs can be held with two people. But I only have one free most of the time.

I like the rig-n-wrench as well for times when I can't get my bmg bollard to the drop zone, I feel like if 4" is too much drop then there needs to be a different plan. Thats likely the time for controlled speedlines.
 

evo

Well-Known Member
Location
My Island, WA
They don't need to be backed up on stationary objects like a tree. they do need to be backed up on a rigged limb or wood. If the piece is cut free and moving, the knot can roll out. I've seen it happen, but it was so long ago, it's just a faint memory.
Sure if your a Boy Scout lashing some logs to make fort, but a clove has some serious drawbacks. Any kind of movement other than static can spill it. If heavily loaded it becomes a axe knot.. It's lazy not to use a different knot or to back it up. Which knot would you use in this application?
 

TheTreeSpyder

Well-Known Member
Location
Florida>>> USA
Clove/"Waterman's Knot": Continuous direction turns more like Round Turn, just crossing self by a 'frapping turn', is more likely to walk tighter(especially wet) or totally off (even doubled to Taut Line), than a reversed torque turn of Cow based hitch i think. Inherent in the design i believe. Continuous direction hitches more tend to walk if host can move/spin, even slightly(thus Daniel's rigged limb position vs. solid support observation). Clove pulls more to the side of host as like Round Turn to allow/even enforce this spin, while backhand turn(rather than continuous turn) types(Cow as both legs thru, Muenter as single leg thru) pull from center of host. So Cow/Muenter as Backhand/ not continuous turn type, more cradles host from each side to pull from centerline vs. continuous turns that pull more like a recoil spin from side, even if crossed.
.
This walking of continuous turn types is even true of the double Half-Hitch(HH) after 1 turn or 2 on host, if double HHs to secure is of Clove formation harder to untie/walked tighter, than if finish is more of a Cow of 2 HHs, doesn't tighten as hard/easier untie.
.
Then too, to the 'innie' versions of each Buntline and Lobster Buoy respectively. The Lobster Buoy about as trustworthy, but w/ the counter torque (theory) of Lobster Buoy, doesn't walk as tight/easier to untie. Buntline can be a bear to untie , buried in there and overly tight.
.
To me, Clove w/o backup is like a hitch pin w/o Clevis Key, should work, but not all easy contingencies planned for. Would say about same for Cow etc.,in real working world knots seeking dead stop "hold fast"(ol'sailor term) security.
.
i prefer double HHs backup in most hitches especially, or fig.8 to tail.
If a single turn on host, 2nd HH could be mostly to keep HH from walking/pulling thru.
On a Round Turn etc. on host, i view 2nd HH a bit differently, perhaps more to keep now less loaded HH from falling out, as can be very little pressure to keep 1 HH fairly!
.
ABoK Lesson #'s 69,70:
"69. There is no such thing as a good general utility knot, although
ashore the CLOVE HITCH ('#: 1177) comes very near to filling the
office of a general utility bitch. But at sea the CLOVE HITCH is employed
almost solely as a CROSSING KNOT, for securing ratlines to
shrouds, etc.
70. Although not a very secure hitch, it can be quickly tied in a
great variety of easily remembered ways. It is the commonest of all

POST HITCHES, and is often tied on a bag as a BINDING KNOT."
(not too good as a binder w/o lock of Constrictor, Bag or Groundline etc. tho)
.
Clove is great base knot/hitch, to be built around i think, really like the Bag formed from, especially slipped; about as secure as Constrictor in most things, again lots easier untie..
.
Clove on carabiner, crossing and ends serving immediately down, walks so well, mountain/rescue uses as belay due to continuous direction walk possible, and crossing/frapping turn as soft lock. Then they made 'Silent Partner' tool for local/on self belay that really emphasized the rotations, while keeping the lock for belay of smoother service! RADIAL POSITION from linear input tension imposed into the arcs, gives the amount of hard lock of the crossing turn. Extreme locking if crossing mainatained opposite side of host than input linear pull(from Standing Part), moderate if crossing to side from input pull, lightest locking if crossing on same side as input pull(where belay and 'Silent Partner' place crossing/frapping turn
 
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Daniel

Well-Known Member
Sure if your a Boy Scout lashing some logs to make fort, but a clove has some serious drawbacks. Any kind of movement other than static can spill it. If heavily loaded it becomes a axe knot.. It's lazy not to use a different knot or to back it up. Which knot would you use in this application?
I back up my clove hitches mostly even when tied to a static tree etc. Just a matter of habit, but not necessary. The direction of loading matters more than the force. So on any near balance point tie off, I will always go with a doubled running bowline.

When we tie off to the skid loader we usually just take three or four wraps around the bar of the grapple on the bucket and take another around the backside of the working end of the line, and come back thru as you would in a normal clove and finish with a couple of half hitches, or just take 3-4 wraps and 2 half hitches. BUT if we are going to be doing a lot of on and off as would be the case for speed lining, there is a D-ring welded to the middle of the bucket to attach a porty with a shackle...

Here's how I tie off to the stump grinder 20200917_191851.jpg
 
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