Arborists use specialized equipment to climb and prune trees. Much of this same equipment is used by linesmen and telephone equipment technicians. Tree climbing provides a way of honing climbing skills and building fitness to the sport climber. Using the proper equipment is key for good training and safety.
Climbing spurs-gaffs are specially designed hooks that attach to the lower calf around the logger boots or fortified shoes. Spurs-gaffs look like oversized fishing hooks except the point extends downward instead of inward. Gaffs-spurs are used to "kick" into the tree allowing you to gain traction to hoist yourself up as if climbing on a platform. Gaffs-spurs come with an array of materials for attaching to the shoe, including leather straps, carbon fiber straps and roto-molded plastic gauntlets.
Tree climbing ascenders are used in conjunction with a self-belay rope or harness that "hugs" the tree. The ascenders attach to the rope and have one-way mechanisms that allow the climber to push the ascender up but will self brake and not slide down the rope. The ascenders are used along with the spurs-gaffs so you are able to use your arms and legs to climb the tree.
Ropes, Webbing and Knots
Tree-climbing relies almost exclusively on static arborist rope which is less prone to wear than the dynamic lines used for climbing. A rock climbing rope is never recommended for tree-climbing. Tree climbers should learn the "series of eight" knots. These include friction knots and figure-8 knots. Make sure ropes are safety certified through ANSI.
Article Written By Eric Cedric
A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.