Tree failure, while I was climbing it.

rico

Well-Known Member
Location
redwoods
Well, I just had this happen. Hollow silver maple, broke at the base while I was climbing. I knew it was hollow, but I thought it would hold. One of my guys suggested I tie into the tree behind it so I threw my rope into a crotch I deemed worthy. By the time I was high enough to start cutting my rope was at too high of an angle and slid down the branch to a y. When the tension came off my climbing line putting my full weigh onto the tree, it broke. By the time the tree hit the chimney, most of the weight was on my rope, cushioning the blow to the chimney enough to cause no damage. My lanyard was around the tree too, so my climbing system was now the rigging holding up the tree. My guys got ropes to me which I was able to throw into the other tree and they tied it off so I could climb down. We were then able to rig the tree off of the house. No damage, no injuries, but a hell of a close call. Next time, I will take the time to set my climbing line better and set a rope or ropes from the ground to stabilise the tree. Too many years of climbing trees like this without incident definitly made me a little complacent. Complacency gets experienced climbers killed. I know that, but I guess I needed this to bring it to a point of action. View attachment 61400 View attachment 61401
Wow, I just saw this thread. Some scary shit and I'm sure glad your ok RBJ!

Judging by the pictures and your description the very first thing I would have done was set-up 2 high guy lines to some of the trees in the background. Then and only then would I have begun working in that tree.

Looks like a nice high top-tie or 2, some serious pretension, and a series of slice cuts from the ground would have worked, removing the need to work in that tree altogether?

I'm seeing some talk of a breakaway lanyard. I come from the school of thought that if you create or put yourself in a situation where you actually NEED a breakaway lanyard you have done something very wrong.
 

RBJtree

Well-Known Member
Location
Pittsburgh
Wow, I just saw this thread. Some scary shit and I'm sure glad your ok RBJ!

Judging by the pictures and your description the very first thing I would have done was set-up 2 high guy lines to some of the trees in the background. Then and only then would I have begun working in that tree.

Looks like a nice high top-tie or 2, some serious pretension, and a series of slice cuts from the ground would have worked, removing the need to work in that tree altogether?

I'm seeing some talk of a breakaway lanyard. I come from the school of thought that if you create or put yourself in a situation where you actually NEED a breakaway lanyard you have done something very wrong.
I like that plan.
 

RBJtree

Well-Known Member
Location
Pittsburgh
Did you use a mallet to 'thump test' as you moved up?

Did you use a drill to make some bore holes to test the shell thickness and integrity?

Did you use a throwline to set up guylines first?

My friend Pete Donzelli didn't either and he wasn't as lucky as you. Pete died :cry: :crying:
Sorry to hear about your friend. Perhaps you could post a link or some good info on how to properly use the techniques you listed? I know how to do some stuff, but more info from good sources is always welcome, and I am sure there are plenty of others out there who can use some more info on these techniques. That is why I posted this thread. In the hopes that someone will read it and learn from my mistake. Perhaps save a life.
 

swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
Location
Barbados
Sorry to hear about your friend. Perhaps you could post a link or some good info on how to properly use the techniques you listed? I know how to do some stuff, but more info from good sources is always welcome, and I am sure there are plenty of others out there who can use some more info on these techniques. That is why I posted this thread. In the hopes that someone will read it and learn from my mistake. Perhaps save a life.
Pete cowrote the book The Art and science of Practical Rigging.. ....hr died before the book was published if I recall. Correct me Tom.
 

swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
Location
Barbados
Wow, I just saw this thread. Some scary shit and I'm sure glad your ok RBJ!

Judging by the pictures and your description the very first thing I would have done was set-up 2 high guy lines to some of the trees in the background. Then and only then would I have begun working in that tree.

Looks like a nice high top-tie or 2, some serious pretension, and a series of slice cuts from the ground would have worked, removing the need to work in that tree altogether?

I'm seeing some talk of a breakaway lanyard. I come from the school of thought that if you create or put yourself in a situation where you actually NEED a breakaway lanyard you have done something very wrong.
What your are saying is correct. But now you still have to climb a compromised tree. The breakaway is strong enough to keep your positioning but if by chance all that rigging does not hold said tree. You are not going down with it. Might not be a west coast thing but I know it is an east coast thing. Talked about constantly. Especially since EAB. I have used mine quite a few times. That keychain biner lives on my side D. Thankfully it has never been deployed.
 
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evo

Well-Known Member
Location
My Island, WA
Personally I’d probably walk on the job if it required a breakaway.
I’ve only witness once where it was deployed, and that was a tree we had to take 50’ off the top on a 125’ stick. The top blew out on this oldgrowth Douglas fir long ago. The topping cut was 36” diameter, and had a shell wall of only 2”!
An adjacent tree was climbed, a perfect limb to walk out across into the product tree, to do most of the cutting from. After about two weeks of brainstorming the climber decided on 3/8 three strand Manila rope, a loose prussic and no stopper knot. Still it was a ballsy move, but with a sharp cutting saw and no hesitation it all went perfectly. The daum log just caved in on its self at impact, 50’ long splinters. The brown rot dust inside took a solid 5-10 minutes to settle.
 

Brocky

Well-Known Member
Location
Michigan
What breakaway systems does everyone else use?
This is a system I’ve started working on that has some redundancies included.
829D4BDD-FD02-44BC-9547-3788ED5378F1.jpeg 040A2A38-8B3D-4411-A525-F3D7529DC532.jpeg

The left, starting at the bottom, has a load release hitch from the carabiner to the shock absorber plate. This plate is the main release, that will let its short rope slide through if there is a constant load, without the climber having to activate it. I need to make a large aluminum Cinch Samaritan above the lanyard hitch to push it off the end of the lanyard, as another way to escape the system.
The other system is a 4mm lanyard to use only as a position holder while advancing the other system. It’s connected to a releasable hook and bracket used on sailing, which will attach to the harness.
Not completed, but shows the basic concepts.
 

rico

Well-Known Member
Location
redwoods
What your are saying is correct. But now you still have to climb a compromised tree. The breakaway is strong enough to keep your positioning but if by chance all that rigging does not hold said tree. You are not going down with it. Might not be a west coast thing but I know it is an east coast thing. Talked about constantly. Especially since EAB. I have used mine quite a few times. That keychain biner lives on my side D. Thankfully it has never been deployed.
This is why I suggested some tip-ties and slice cuts. A climber would never had to put a foot in that tree if done this way, and the tree would have been done much quicker and much safer. We use the shit out of the top-tie/slice cut method around here, and it never disappoints.

Early in my career I witnessed a man get caught in a barber chair while topping a big Hemlock. I swore to never put myself in that predicament. Ever. Part of being a good tree-man is assessing and knowing when the potential for a barber-chair or trunk failure is high, and then doing everyone in your power to remove and/or mitigate the possibility. If one is relying on a breakaway lanyard to save their life then the game plan and execution is seriously lacking.
 
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Brocky

Well-Known Member
Location
Michigan
It’s not so much as relying on it, as it gives the climber some sense of another level of safety, should things go wrong, even if thoughtfully planned.
 

moss

Well-Known Member
Personally I’d probably walk on the job if it required a breakaway.
I’ve only witness once where it was deployed, and that was a tree we had to take 50’ off the top on a 125’ stick. The top blew out on this oldgrowth Douglas fir long ago. The topping cut was 36” diameter, and had a shell wall of only 2”!
An adjacent tree was climbed, a perfect limb to walk out across into the product tree, to do most of the cutting from. After about two weeks of brainstorming the climber decided on 3/8 three strand Manila rope, a loose prussic and no stopper knot. Still it was a ballsy move, but with a sharp cutting saw and no hesitation it all went perfectly. The daum log just caved in on its self at impact, 50’ long splinters. The brown rot dust inside took a solid 5-10 minutes to settle.
I really like that you mentioned “3 weeks of brainstorming” happened before work started. I have done this multiple times where I was dealing with something obviously sketchy or something that i’d never done before that appeared to be potentially sketchy. We sometimes forget the pressure we put on ourselves to show up and get it done. If there is time, repeated looks, background thinking over time etc. will give you a strong strategy that you might not arrive at looking at a situation for ten minutes.
-AJ
 

rico

Well-Known Member
Location
redwoods
It’s not so much as relying on it, as it gives the climber some sense of another level of safety, should things go wrong, even if thoughtfully planned.
Is the breakaway lanyard in fact another level of security, or is it just another potential point of failure that a climber needs to worry about. I myself would never choose to climb on a flip-line that had the high likelihood of "breaking-away" while I was working a tree. Fuck that. Instead I choose to use sound judgement, devise a solid game plan, and to do the work necessary that ensures that the trunk failure that RBJ experienced (no offense RBJ), or a barber-chair is never allowed to happen.
 

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
Administrator
Perhaps you could post a link or some good info on how to properly use the techniques you listed? I know how to do some stuff, but more info from good sources is always welcome, and I am sure there are plenty of others out there who can use some more info on these techniques. That is why I posted this thread. In the hopes that someone will read it and learn from my mistake. Perhaps save a life.
@RBJtree I've followed this thread and held back from commenting. Its very easy to sit here and come to conclusions that might not be accurate and judgements that are wrong. Bottom line, it looks like you got lucky...even though you knew the lead was decayed and hollow.

My questions for you were meant to find out what you did before putting yourself at risk. None of what I asked is new or cutting edge. They have been discussed and taught for many, many years.

You suggested that I do your homework for you and put up links to more information. Are you serious? Mark and I started TreeBuzz to be a repository of shared knowledge. Every one of my questions is answered many times over. Take time and educate yourself so that next time you're faced with this situation you have many solutions...not just one.

Here...I'll give you a clue for one solution, using the search you can read about it in more depth.

If a tree is inaccessible to a lift or crane consider hiring a scaffold company to erect scaffolding for access. Its not expensive and can take some odd shapes not just vertical.

My friend Pete Donzelli was smart. He had a doctorate in biomechanical engineering. He's been through many modules of Arbormaster training and competed too. What he didn't have was the depth and nuanced knowledge of tree structure. If he would have known what the thump of his spikes in the trunk meant on his climb above the decay he would have chosen a different solution. He didn't know what it meant...and he died. YOu got lucky..this time.

Pete's contribution to our profession isn't as evident now. It's 'common knowledge'. In a generation prior you and many others would know his name. Now, his name isn't recognized.

Get hold of his book...the name is perfect:

The Art and Science of Practical Rigging [ASPRn]

Then read it...along with following up on your own by going through the archives here or Google. Along the way you'll follow the path of knowledge in some amazing rabbit holes.

Pete made up tree climbing action figures...this is Pete under the guidance of my cat Scourge...notice the Silky Zubat! Made from a wooden matchstick and the corrugated
tear off from saran wrap

CS-Pete Donzelli and Scourge.jpg
 

Brocky

Well-Known Member
Location
Michigan
Is the breakaway lanyard in fact another level of security, or is it just another potential point of failure that a climber needs to worry about. I myself would never choose to climb on a flip-line that had the high likelihood of "breaking-away" while I was working a tree. Fuck that. Instead I choose to use sound judgement, devise a solid game plan, and to do the work necessary that ensures that the trunk failure that RBJ experienced (no offense RBJ), or a barber-chair is never allowed to happen.
Perhaps a break away, or self releasing under excess load lanyard is something that is a personal preference, instead being right or wrong. I don’t like the idea of an all or nothing break away, also. With the Kong Kisa, small falls only allow a short length of rope to slide through, a constant load would pull the rope all the way out, releasing the climber from the failed tree.
 

swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
Location
Barbados
Is the breakaway lanyard in fact another level of security, or is it just another potential point of failure that a climber needs to worry about. I myself would never choose to climb on a flip-line that had the high likelihood of "breaking-away" while I was working a tree. Fuck that. Instead I choose to use sound judgement, devise a solid game plan, and to do the work necessary that ensures that the trunk failure that RBJ experienced (no offense RBJ), or a barber-chair is never allowed to happen.
Erik. I learn everyday. Today I learned. What you have said is what I always thought. But over the years I would hear of the breakaway. And just started using it. I am pretty good at hazard tree inspection so maybe the breakaway gave me a piece of mind. I will walk on a tree if my gut tells me to. And I have. My breakaway will be removed. I will go back to my old way of doing things. I am too old to go down with a tree now. We should not be doing things that the outcome might be 90%. Not good enough. So this pic I took is old hat now.... 2019-08-09 15.04.12.jpg
 
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rico

Well-Known Member
Location
redwoods
Its hard for me to tell by the pic Swing, but what is holding your snap to the side dee of your TreeMo.
 

colb

Well-Known Member
Location
Florida
Is the breakaway lanyard in fact another level of security, or is it just another potential point of failure that a climber needs to worry about. I myself would never choose to climb on a flip-line that had the high likelihood of "breaking-away" while I was working a tree. Fuck that. Instead I choose to use sound judgement, devise a solid game plan, and to do the work necessary that ensures that the trunk failure that RBJ experienced (no offense RBJ), or a barber-chair is never allowed to happen.
It's a breakaway-if-the-tree-breaks lanyard, not a breakaway-if-the-climber-weights-it lanyard. The disparity between those two forces is large if I'm using a breakaway lanyard. Just like my rope should be weaker than my metal rigging devices to avoid having a chunk of metal flying through the air. Everything in our setups should have the correct order of failure.
 

swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
Location
Barbados
Its hard for me to tell by the pic Swing, but what is holding your snap to the side dee of your TreeMo.
A keychain biner. it will hold you easily in work position but will snap if anything fails. I will quit using it now like I did before a few years back when it was suggested on hazardous trees. I never had any tree fail though. Because of precautions and inspection.
 

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