Every arborist worth his mettle has heard of SRT Climbing, and some of you may have even made quick use of it. Indeed, it is arguably the best technique to scale a tree without risking life or limb! This article focuses on explaining this novel technique and addresses common queries associated with it.
Table of Contents
What is SRT Climbing?
SRT stands for ‘Single Rope Technique.’ As the name suggests, this is a method of climbing a tree using only a single rope for both ascent and descent. An alternative is the ‘Stationary Rope Technique’ which implies that the rope is fixed but can be double-layered if needed (DdRT). Nowadays, the acronym SRT is often replaced by SRS which stands for ‘Stationary Rope System’, which is essentially the same thing.
How do you Climb a Tree with a Rope?
Climbing a tree using the SRT method consists of 3 components:
For SRT climbing, an anchor point is determined, and a non-abrasive rope is affixed to it before making the ascent. An ideal anchor point is a thick, sturdy branch, which could be anywhere between 20 to 100 feet high, depending on the tree. Short lengths of the cord may be used to pull the rope to one side and attach it to a carabiner to create an easy path for the climber. These are called deviations and can be easily clipped and unclipped to allow greater access and smooth passing during both ascent and descent.
For ascending or prusiking the tree once the rope is fixed, a climber needs cammed devices like ascenders to grab onto the line and use it hoist themselves up. Out of the many different types of ascending systems, the two most popularly used are:
- Frog Rig Method: This method uses a chest ascender and a foot ascender. The climber uses the foot ascender to push himself up the rope while the chest ascender helps in maintaining that position, as he ‘sits’ midair to prepares for the next upward slide. This motion mimics a frog kick and is also called the ‘sit-stand system’.
- Rope Walking Method: Here, a foot ascender is attached to each foot, one directly and the other a bit higher up. This short distance between the two ascenders is maintained to avoid them from tangling together mid-climb. Then the climber simply uses his legs to step upwards or ‘rope-walk’ to make the ascent. Additionally, hand/chest ascenders may be used to provide better support and facilitate the climb.
The descent can be made similarly like an ascent, but using friction-brake equipment to control the downward speed. Carabiners can be used for added support during the rappel, and many abseiling tools are available to aid the process.
What do I Need for SRT Climbing?
SRT climbing gear consists of only five primary components, as mentioned below:
- Rope and Cord
Of course, you need a rope to employ the single rope technique, but not just any rope will do! It has to be non-abrasive, friction-resistant, with a large diameter for comfortable grip but thin splice ends to pass through the friction chain. It should also be highly resilient and flexible but with a low stretch-load to avoid being pulled down by weight and gravity.
- Ascenders and Descenders
Ascenders are nifty contraptions which are your best friends when attempting a climb! Designed with ergonomic handles to facilitate a comfortable grip, they can freely glide over the climbing rope, and their toothed cam assists in the weighted purchase as you scale the tree.
Descenders are designed similar to ascenders but have added features like a self-braking system. High-quality descenders like the ones by Petzl also come with an inbuilt anti-panic system and anti-error catch limit to prevent potential accidents.
- Rope Wrench
A rope wrench is a friction-control device which allows a climber to ascend or descend at a controlled speed by enabling the climber to increase or decrease friction, particularly when gliding down. It provides the climber with a considerable measure of control, thus enabling a more confident and safer descent.
Snaplinks or carabiners are a must-have part of SRT climbing gear. Carabiners are high endurance metal clips with a double locking mechanism and are super useful in attaching different pieces of your climbing gear. They also provide additional support and can be self-locking, non-locking, or braking type. When doing a climb, it is a good idea to carry at least 5-7 of these on you for good measure.
- Harness and PPE
A traditional harness may roughly do the trick, but it is better to make a one-time investment in a premium tree-climbing harness if you are a professional arborist. This will provide added comfort, which is of prime importance since you will be spending long hours dangling midair!
An ideal harness should provide custom-fit along the pelvis and lower back, have extra padding for a softer feel, adjustable D-rings for optimum placements, and stellar lumbar support to aid in climbing.
Where can I Buy SRT Climbing Gear?
You can easily buy SRT climbing gear either as a whole kit or as individual items of your choosing from Amazon. The best thing about Amazon, you can check the reviews if there are any concerns or suggestions.
But before making a purchase, keep the following points in mind:
- Is it weather-proof? SRT climbing gear should be moisture, heat, and wind-resistant.
- Does it fit perfectly? You will be carrying the gear for long periods of time, often in awkward positions, so it is essential that it should have a comfortable feel.
- Does it come with a warranty? Refrain from going for cheaper products as they do not come with a good warranty.
- Is it from a renowned brand/company? A few brands, like Petzl and Stein, are well known for their high quality and deservingly so.
- Is the product genuinely worth its price tag? Since there is a vast online market for SRT climbing gear, it is always a good idea to compare prices and reviews between different sites before making the final purchase to avoid getting ripped off!
Can SRT climbing be used for other things?
Yes. Invented initially during World war II for exploring the Dent de Crolles caves in France. SRT climbing can be used not just to scale trees but also for caving, rock climbing, mountaineering, canyoning, potholing, construction work, and even for building maintenance. It is a useful technique, helpful in many different aspects of life and is widely used not just by trained professionals but also by adventure-enthusiasts all over the world!
Summing up, SRT climbing is the most common technique used by arborists as well as various other professionals for smoothly scaling daunting heights and conquering steep slopes. Make sure to double-check your SRT climbing gear before climbing up a tree, or better yet, give Tower Climbing and Safety Gear a quick read to get some additional info on how to tackle your next target successfully.
Remember guys: safety first!