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Tree safe rap anchor!


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This post is not for all you master climbers as I'm sure you all know this already.

But for those that are interested here is a technique that I use.(no I'm not claiming I invented it) But would just like to pass it along as I have been doing this for awhile on raps. I don't do it all the time but on rare routes or raps I don't think somebody will do again for a long time I use this technique.

Rather then tie your anchor around the tree, tie knots in the ends of your material(perlon works best) and then

just drape it around the tree. Then just thread your rap ropes throught the two loops. This will prevent the tree from growing and the cord becoming a death cord. I know this is very senstive of me but actually I just want the tree to be there the next time I climb the route.


The picture below is of the little tree at the top of Aerial Bounderies. The orange cord is my cordalette, the yellow cord is the tree friendly anchor and the black rope is the rap lines. I cut off the previous cord as it did not leave much room for the tree to grow.







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There is a tree at the top of Dogleg Crack at Alphabet rock in Leavenworth. I caught a guy preparing to rap by putting the rope around the tree with no sling. This is so suck when there is an easy walk off. I had a rap line ten feet away and told him to go use that.

Edited by catbirdseat
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No i don't have a file of random trees around the world that have been killed by slings. But I have seen a couple of times slings cutting into the bark and have cut them off.

It does not hurt your setup if you rig it this way so why not? Sure if its on a popular route who cares as someone will take care of it down the road.

But for such a Master climber as yourself Dru, always putting up cutting edge remote routes this might be something that you consider.


Peace- out

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So that's how that snag got to be there on Snag Buttress at Mount Erie. Dallas put a sling around it years ago and it choked it to death tongue.gif.


Seriously, I've heard of that before. If it's just one rap, I just throw the rope around the tree. If you're expecting it to be strong enough to be your anchor, it'll be fine with the rope around it. And I've yet to get sap or pitch on any of my climbing ropes....my snowpants are another story after scooting my ass across some precariously thin logs over icy streams and rivers hellno3d.gif


Why is it air under my heels is OK but I lose my balance crossing over raging water?! madgo_ron.gif

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Will not the tree mearly grow around the sling? Lets ask AlpineK!!!


It would kill the tree.


Not necissarily. I've seen a number of trees that can grow around constrictions. You will create a weak structural point on the tree if the tree grows around the sling, but you don't always kill them.


When you place a rap anchor around a tree you don't sinch it tight to the bark (you would never get your rope back). Most people tie the sling long. If you do this it's going to take a long long time before the tree comes close to being girdled especially when you concider how slow growing alpine trees are.


I would say that Dru is right snaffles will chew it off or it will rot.

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A couple of rap rings tied into that rig would help with the friction problem. They are pretty cheap, and would make for a reuseable setup. One could use some small perlon to hold the system around the tree, small enough that the tree would easily break it with growth.


Which makes me wonder: wouldn't the rope pull the rope-loop pictured down after one rappel, making it litter? What if everyone did this every time tey rappelled off a tree? It would make for a lot of scattered rope/webbing, it seems.


I have seen rappel systems that are retrievable. I can't think of the set-up right now, but I am sure one of you has the knowledge/link. Anyone?

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I can't find the link. It was similar to this setup but with 2 metal rings, one of them narrower, and a cone-shaped bauble on the end of the rope, if I recall. The bauble caught the narrow ring and brought down the sling. I've never heard of anyone actually using that, maybe due to it getting hung up on the way down (or nobody trusting it wouldn't).


There's always the back-and-forth woven thing. I tried that once on a safe 30ft rap. It worked ok, but on a longer rap the rope stretch would make it hard to pop the first loop. tongue.gif

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But why not drape it around the tree, as Dale suggests? Then you have a lesser risk of stressing the tree than by girdling it, and just as safe a way to rap off the tree?


Seems like a gentler way to get down to me.


You are only gonna girdle the tree with direct friction of rope on bark, like if you wrap the rap rope directly around the tree.


A sling tied around a tree will not "girdle" the tree, because the sling will rot or snaffles will eat it or someone else will replace it. I have encountered plenty of manky old slings around trees (some 20-30 years old on obscure routes) and have never seen a sling that the tree has grown into and been girdled by... the only way it could happen would be with thick hawser or cable or chain, I think. ( I have seen this with old chains people were using to anchor a hauled-up-on-the-beach boat to)


So then, the setup Daler describes does not benefit the tree the way he purports it to....


Why NOT use it? Well the only real disadvantages I can see are that it uses 2 knots instead of one, so it requires a greater length of tat than just a simple loop around the tree... also two knots is twice as many potential points of failure as one knot, so it's a tiny little bit less safe.


Basically I won't be using it cause its a case of aint broke dont need fixing.

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Arlen There is a device that is similar to that. AlpineK would be the one to ask. The Arborist folks use a device that goes around a tree limb and then they run the climbing lines through the rings. It's function is to save friction on delicate species. It comes out of a tree pretty good. I would think it would get hung up on the way down. The tree folks tell me there is even a way of putting it on from down on the ground (heaving line?) without ever being at the top.

Alpine you know anything about these?

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We use things called friction savers, 2 metal rings and a piece of webbing. If you used those, rappelling would get expensive fast. When we use them there are rigging techniques to get them out of the tree without having the device fall to the ground and become damaged however I could see this becoming a possible nightmare situation on a long climb with multiple rapps.


Basicly you can use Dale's set up if it makes you feel good, but I'll still be using the clasic method.

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Ive seen several trees back in the 'daks that had grown around all sorts of things, cables, other trees, and certainly rap anchors. Usually if it's a common rap tree, the slings get replaced weekly if not more often, so the size of the newest sling is always ample and the oldest one gets cut off. Even if you did this once a year, there is no way the tree will grow fast enough to choke in three or four years. Even if it did though, it has no problem integrating the cord into the tree. We had a swing in our backyard for many years whoose chains were attached to two loops of rope over a big tree branch. Now the branch has grown well around the top of the rope loops and only the bottom part of the loop is accesible.

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