Riggings for Tree Climbing

Riggings for Tree Climbing
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

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.

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