Does the following sound familiar?
You’re working in a tree, and the comfort level for making a cut is anything but confidence inspiring. In these moments, it becomes apparent that we need to gain more experience, approach the cut in a different manner or we need to look at other options to assist with our work positioning.
We’ve all been there. Yes, there was a solution for the scenario. As you know, one of the most important aspects of climbing and cutting a tree is your work positioning. Finding the right position can quickly change the dynamics of climbing and the level of safety, especially when operating a chainsaw in the tree.
No matter the trade, hobby, or skill, experience is one of the most valuable instructors available to us. Of course, experience takes time. Hopefully the knowledge you are gaining is based on proper technique, safety and best practices. There is no substitute for experience, and it requires time and effort. Like the saying everyone has heard at least once in their lifetime, “you get out what you put in.” Take the time to learn and experience techniques and gear that you are not familiar with. You may find it to be beneficial.
Only you can control your experience level. With that said, what we can do is break down work positioning lanyards into basic concepts to clarify information about products that you’ve seen, but might not know their full advantages. When it comes to gear, everything is personal, and it really comes down to the individual. However, knowing the features and benefits of something we use every day can help point us in the proper direction when looking at how to get the most effective work positioning.
First, we will take a look at the 2 in 1 lanyard and how it can benefit us while working. These lanyards are constructed using properly rated synthetic or wire core line with a rated snap or carabiner on each end. A loop or eye and eye prusik with a snap or carabiner attached are installed on the lanyard using an English Prusik. Because the English Prusik can be used in both directions, it allows the lanyard to be used on both sides. This creates a system that works great in pines or other trees where branches are close together.
The benefit of this style of work positioning lanyard is the ability to move through the tree while never having to disconnect the lanyard. Because the hip prusik is created using an English Prusik we can use this lanyard to work in both directions. We can safely and effectively use this style of lanyard to “leap frog” over branches. As we move up the tree the hip prusik stays connected to the same side D-ring and we alternate between the ends of the lanyard to move safely up the tree. One thing to consider with this style of lanyard is that they are designed to be used in both directions. Installing a prusik minding pulley is not feasible as the lanyard loses the key feature of being multi-directional. When using this style of lanyard, we must manually advance the prusik to shorten the length of the lanyard.
If we move from the 2 in 1 to a flipline style work positioning lanyard we begin to see where more options are available. Mechanical rope grabs become great options or a prusik cord with a prusik minding pulley.
This style of work positioning lanyard works well in the tree and particularly on a spar. These lanyards work in one direction and can allow for easy and quick adjustment. A.R.T., Rock Exotica, Petzl, CMI and Gibbs all manufacturer rope grabs so there are plenty of options available. And again, a simple prusik with a pulley works great as well. A prusik and pulley set up is nice because you can make adjustments to the length of the lanyard while it is weighted. With rope grab devices it is necessary to unweight the device to make adjustments. The exception to this is the A.R.T. Positioner, which allows you to make adjustments when it is weighted.
It also helps to look at the Grillon and and Zillon by Petzl. The Grillon has been in the industry for some time now, and has proven to be a great system for arborists that prefer this style of device. The Zillon has been successful as it uses a compact ZigZag-style device, and anyone who has used the Petzl ZigZag knows it is a great device.
Again, there are plenty of options available, so be sure to check them all out. Also, be sure to check your gear bag, because you likely already have everything you need to make a great flipline!
One lanyard that has changed the game is the CE Lanyard, now called the hipStar Flex lanyard. The thought and development that went into this lanyard is exactly why it is one of the most used lanyards out there today. It allows almost unlimited setups for the user and can easily be used as a secondary climbing system when moving through the canopy. If you are looking for a lanyard that will provide a solution for every work positioning scenario, be sure to take a look at these lanyards. There are many great videos available online that shows the multiple configurations and uses for this lanyard. You will not be disappointed if you decide to add this to your gear bag.
Regardless of what your current work positioning lanyard is, always look for opportunities to improve it! There are times when we get set up to make a cut and we are less than comfortable or stable. Is there an opportunity to improve the ease and comfort of work positioning? Only you can determine if looking at a different lanyard set up is right for you.
Climb safe. Cut safe.