Tree Climbing Skills

Tree Climbing Skills
Tree climbing can be a thrilling experience and nearly anyone can master the needed skills. The best way to go about it is to get out there and climb. A number of organizations offer public climbs and basic classes. You'll do best in the classes if you first become familiar with some tree climbing skills you'll need.

Climbing Techniques

Tree climbers use two basic techniques to climb, both of which are fundamental. The Tree Climbers International website outlines both techniques, which are the double-rope technique, or DRT, and the single-rope technique, or SRT.

The double-rope technique, used for trees 100 feet tall or less, involves draping a rope over a branch and using both ends of the rope to ascend and descend. Climbers are anchored in place up and down the ropes with a series of knots.

The single-rope technique, used for trees up to 300 feet tall, involves attaching one end of the rope to the tree and using the other end to ascend and descend. The single-rope technique requires the use of ascenders and descenders to move up and down the rope.

Knot Tying

Knot tying is an essential skill, since knots are what hold you in place. Climbers use different knots for different functions. According to the Tree Climbing Knots website, two of the most essential knots are the bowline and clove hitch, both of which are multi-purpose climbing knots. The site noted other knots that tree climbers need to know. Three include the double fisherman's knot, which connects two lines together; the figure eight, used for stopping and the Blake's Hitch knot, used for descent. Two additional knots are the Prusik and Klemheist knots, similar knots you'll use to ascend the rope. See knot tying tutorials in Resources below.


Tree climbers should also know what equipment to use and how to use it, according to the USDA Forest Service National Tree Climbing Program. At the very least, all tree climbs require a helmet, rope and a harness. Other equipment needed for more advanced climbs includes carabiners; pulleys; throw weights and slingshots; ascenders, handheld attachments that grip the rope for easier ascents and descenders, metal loops that fit around the rope to help the climber come back down.


A number of other skills prove useful for climbing a tree, the USDA Forest Service National Tree Climbing Program noted. Tree hazard assessment involves checking out a tree before your climb to check for its health, stability and any dangers. Observational skills that help with tree assessment and other environmental factors is another essential skill. Basic rescue techniques and survival skills are always useful for any outdoor activity.

Article Written By Ryn Gargulinski

Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist and performer whose journalism career began in 1991. Credits include two illustrated books, "Bony Yoga" and "Rats Incredible"; fitness, animal, crime, general news and features for various publications; and several awards. She holds a Master of Arts in English literature and folklore and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing with a French minor from Brooklyn College.

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