Tree Climbing: Ascending with Doubled Rope Technique

This videos illustrates one of the ascending techniques used in the Cornell Tree Climbing Institute's instructional classes. This information is not intended to be an online tutorial for beginners. Our intent is to share these general procedures with other qualified professionals who are interested in developing a college-based recreational tree climbing program. Tree climbing can be hazardous! If you are new to tree climbing, seek qualified instruction before attempting these techniques. CTCI does not advocate unsecured footlocking, as there is no connection to the rope. CTCI also does not advocate secured footlocking as there is no redundant connection to the rope. CTCI does not teach the double ascender method for the same reason. These styles are presented merely for the sake of comparison to the Blake's Hitch method, which we do use regularly.

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Added: 5 years
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Author Steven Thaw (1 month)
Prusik not prussik

Author snwman91 (27 days)
a friction saver would help by eliminating the bark damage.

Author Ashleigh Kivilaakso (3 months)
Thank you for the calm laid back instruction and absence of music. Very
well done!

Author thorsmitersaw (4 months)
how do you get the rope up over the branch to begin with?

Author Rodrigo Y Castro (2 months)

Author John Nicholson (9 months)
Your new ascender / descender gadget looks fantastic! Are these for sale? I
am a caver / potholer rather than a tree climber, but I do like some of the
things you guys do with two ropes when we make do with one.

Author adam slessor (10 months)
just look up arborist vids on how to climb trees this was painful to

Author Yann Li (10 months)

Author pentachronic (10 months)
FYI the loop over the tree branch creates a 1:1 pulley. A 2:1 would
require another pulley (2ft pull of rope = 1ft raise). In your example a
1ft pull would raise 1ft. Ie a 1:1 pulley.

Also I don't see backups in your video. Typically there are 2 friction
hitches (prussik or ascenders count). Sometimes 3 if being super paranoid.

I would also suggest you show a non-pulley system that stops the damage to
the tree from rope friction burn. Dual ascender jugs + a dualcender device
or double prussik. Also show a frog system - it's way more efficient.
This non-pulley basically has a stationary loop over the branch.

Author rasloeks (1 year)
Non of the methods you showed had redundancy?! Unless you use the second
positioning rope from the ground up

Author Dstrukt2k2 (10 months)
No cambium saver on that limb? Sycamores don't have very thick bark on the
limbs and younger wood, it's more of a paper, you can do some serious
damage to the cambium layer doing what you're doing. For teaching tree
climbing practices you should also teach tree protection practices. 

Author Ian VanDeventer (1 year)
Are there any techniques that keep the rope stationary? It seems like
running the rope over the branch could cause harm to the tree, or worse
wear the hell out of your rope!

Author logan rash (2 years)
You guys must catch some interesting looks when you do this.

Author Paig jr Rounseville (3 years)
will the double asender technique work good with a false crotch friction

Author danthelambboy (5 years)
Me again i just wanted to ask is the blakes hitch technique with the two
split tails possible with spliced eyes? and whats an ideal length for split
tails (as i am ordering them cut to length)?

Author CornellTreeClimbing (3 years)
What about this gear?

Author thekc45 (4 years)
Kudos for posting this video! I looked, this up because 35 years ago
someone had shown me how to make some of these knots for tree climbing ,
and over the years I have forgotton them. It was a blast from the past to
have seen these again! If you look at every tree climber site or mountian
climbing site there is always someone who knows how to do it better or
safer, and does'nt understand everyone is not using it as a training video.
Why don't all of you go make a training video!!!! THANK YOU!!

Author Spartreeman (4 years)
to make a point regarding safety, rules dictate that screw lock carabiners
aren't to be used, triple-lockers should be used especially where ropes rub
and cause screw locks to unlock....two cents!

Author james bingham (1 year)
fair enough mate you win. videos are wicked use full and all by the way

Author CornellTreeClimbing (4 years)
@TheLivingston2 Thanks! The knot that David tied in with on the red rope
was a clove hitch. The advantage of the clove hitch is that it is easily
adjustable. This is pretty handy as the length of the connection between
your harness and the friction knot affects your efficiency. In this mode
the clove hitch isn't likely to slip too much, but you could also use a
figure eight on a bight if you experienced that problem.

Author jean-paul Merland (5 years)
c'est la technique de chez Hévéa France cela fait presque 10 ans que cela
existe mais en France ils mettent fausse-fourche du sol (abime pas l'arbre)
et la main au dessu du noeud (malade même si le noeud bloque bien ) de plus
un noeud sur deux brins sans contre assurer faudrait pas dans la montée se
tromper et ne prendre qu'un brin !! descendrais bien vite. ce n'est pas une
critique mais un constat entre grimpeur tu sais bien la communication est
indispensable à bientôt.

Author ellie todd (3 years)
could u do this without a harniss?

Author CornellTreeClimbing (2 years)
We had planned to do another separate video on all the low-impact
practices, ground to crown. Of course in practice we use tube style or
false crotch style protection on all points at which the rope runs over the
bark. I think the raw footage is around somewhere...maybe I can get one of
the staff to put it together.

Author CornellTreeClimbing (1 year)
Search for Cornell Tree Climbing on the web. We'd be happy to host you for
a lesson.

Author CornellTreeClimbing (1 year)
Good question! I'm not sure yet, but Spring 2014 in California is likely.

Author loki1066 (1 year)
Tried this the other day using a footloop and a loop connected to my
harness and the following happened.. I spun round and round and the blakes
hitch jammed solid every time. Admittedly I was using some horrible
climbing rope that I got from a climbing wall in the '70's .... And some
new rope from a hardware store (not proper climbing rope) . Could these
factors have caused my abject failure and woul it be a good idea to buy
some climbing rope? Thanks in anticipation for your advice.

Author CornellTreeClimbing (2 years)
Yes, we do! I was climbing with a group recently while a conference of city
employees was going by. Every fire, rescue, highway guy that went past
looked like they would much rather spend the day with us than sitting in
their HR seminars...

Author gnoll666 (5 years)
you great

Author WuTangghost0007 (1 year)
Where is the next Trip to?

Author heyalain (4 years)
Well done videos... learned some great knots! :-)

Author G1C (4 years)
Hi at 6.04 What is that knot on the left hand side the orange one as i
would like to try this system Could it always work on a plussiks and a
blacks hitch I was to use that insted of the orange knot Thanks

Author CornellTreeClimbing (1 year)
Yes, the correct rope is critical. Arborist's ropes are made with a
specific "hand" that allows these friction knots to function. There are
other concerns, too. Hardware store rope may not be strength rated for life
support. It may be made of the wrong material - with a low melting point.
And any rope you acquired in the 70's should probably be chopped up into
dog leashes!

Author ajriveraruiz (3 years)
@2:00-2:30 You SOUND like Nick Swardson from Pretend Time in an episode
about a sexy voice radio man talking about a disaster that was happening on
a highway HAHA good job mate

Author willandaway (4 years)
For those of us aspiring to be monkeys!

Author danthelambboy (5 years)
could you tell me whats a good low price type of rope to get for a
beginner.. bearing in mind i will be using these drt methods. Should
sliptails be made from the same type of rope and have the same diameter?

Author CornellTreeClimbing (4 years)
@Spartreeman A good point for Arborists, but there aren't any rules for
Recreational tree climbing, except possibly the GOTC recommendations to
AEE. For arborists, triple lockers are a very good idea, as they are busy
with other things. Triple lockers are also nice for recreational purposes,
but plain old screw gates are sufficient. Where we cannot keep an eye on
the lockers, we use two screw gates. Also, we girth hitch our ascenders so
there is no need for a carabiner at that point.

Author CornellTreeClimbing (2 years)
Search for "Unicender"

Author totaratree99 (4 years)
Hi. sorry but you are promoting unsafe techniques. Unsecured footlocking,
secured footlocking with a short prussik, don't you know that you should
never hold above the friction hitch. You don't even back-up your ascenders.
Many falls have resulted from these bad practices. Please don't teach tree
climbing or at least get some training yourselves from a qualified
professional. Hope you don't mind but I may use this vid and some of your
others for training purposes "spot the bad practice".

Author CornellTreeClimbing (3 years)
Not safely!

Author CornellTreeClimbing (5 years)
@uyuni123 We really don't use the twin ascender method at all. The weakness
is as you point out - There is no backup for a single cam failure. You can
tie the ends of the rope off, but then you've eliminated the possibility of
using the doubled rope mode. Another problem is that the ends of the rope
can easily become different lengths, creating the possibility of rappelling
off the end of the rope!

Author Aizko Laritza (5 years)
@trepaarboles I'd go a bit farther and say that the single prussik method
with footlocking although very fast, is not one we recommend for
recreational tree climbing. We always climb with more than one connection
to the rope. In that case, where you put your hands is irrelevant. Even
with one prussik, our 5mm cord on a static line is very difficult to knock

Author Wind .Chaser (2 years)
Hi guy! Have three questions for you .Will be great if U can help. 1.u use
micro-pulley to tend to the Blake hitch,don't u? Just wonder if I add
Rope-man with short foot loop---will there be any improvisation to
spontaneously move the Rope-man with my ascension? 2. Have u ever test the
Spider jack? with double -rope technique Is it better than the uni-cender ?
3.How about the Spider jack with SRT? How does it perform?

Author WuTangghost0007 (1 year)
Where is the next Trip to?

Author CornellTreeClimbing (4 years)
@zeynoleary Thanks for the kind words! I have confidence that our methods
are safe. We've had an excellent safety record to this point. No
climbing-related injuries at all in countless lessons, both domestically
and internationally.

Author LCHLLO2008 (1 year)
very helpful ,thanks :)

Author Paig jr Rounseville (3 years)
thanks dude is the petzl treesbee ok

Author Jim Howe (2 years)
Nice video. I like the micro pulley on the standing side of the system to
auto feed other side. Will help going up and down limb walking. I use a
valdotain tresse on the friction hitch side on a split tail side to side
instead of my bridge coming back to the center of my harness. Can bend over
frontwards through the system for mobility in hand pruning and the tresse
doesn't focus all the heat onto the bottom wrap like the Blake's. So you
can repel easier without burning the split tail.

Author CornellTreeClimbing (5 years)
@danthelambboy Sure. There are many arborist climbing ropes available.
There are differences and everyone has their favorite, of course. We use
New England Ropes Safety Blue for our climbing lines, and Safety Blue
Hi-Vee (the orange and white mix) for the split tails.

Author Beefpoweredcars (3 years)
Excuses excuses.

Author L Balisky (5 years)
basejump I hate to break the news to you, but the majority of trees in this
world are climbed by folks in flip flops. I use to think I could climb a
tree fairly well... then I paid a kid ($0.10) to get me a coconut and
marveled at his unaided technique at literally running up the tree.

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