The Rules

I’ve been working and climbing with trees for a few years now. And I’ve developed a set of rules for myself to stay safe, efficient, and make my job easier. Here they are: Read More "The Rules"

Tree Climbing 101: Objective-Based Tree Climbing

climber silouettePerhaps the best way to accomplish great tree work is to start with a clear objective. Ask yourself, What are you doing, and why are you doing it? If you can ask and answer these questions honestly and clearly, you’ll be well on your way to a successful conclusion.

There are so many options in the tools and methods you can use to climb a tree now. Will you use a dynamic doubled rope system? Perhaps you’ll use a static, non-moving system? Hitch, or mechanical ascender? Maybe you will forgo climbing and reach for a 22 foot long extendable pole saw? Or better yet, how about an aerial lift so you can reach the outer canopy of the tree? Read More "Tree Climbing 101: Objective-Based Tree Climbing"

Climbing 101: My Favorite Tree

A few years ago, I was attending a tree biology class at the University of British Columbia. During the introduction period of the class each of us in attendance was asked to tell who we were and relate our favorite tree.

I recall talking about the Douglas-fir; it is a favorite of mine because of its beauty, strength, longevity, and it being a fun tree to climb. However, one of the students introducing themselves after me told a story about her grandmother’s apple tree and the way she always remembered even the way it smelled. You see, climbing this tree as a child built good memories of the time she spent with her Grandma. Read More "Climbing 101: My Favorite Tree"


Ergonomics 1Let’s talk ergonomics. Ergonomics is the fitting of a job to a person. This can easily be seen in the contrast between the shapes and sizes of certain tools that climbing arborists use. We can often see that these are more comfortable to use. But why is this important? A recent OSHA study showed that MSDs (musculoskeletal disorders) were the source of approximately one-third of all injuries that resulted in time loss. In other words, the lack of ergonomics can literally result in being unemployed. Read More "Ergonomics"


Following is a list of acronyms that can help you to remember important aspects of tree climbing. You may have heard some or all of them before. I have used and continue to use all of these in my day-to-day work protocols.

  • SEE – Safer, Easier, More Efficient
    • When analyzing a new technique or tool to determine how well it will help you.
  • PPEPersonal Protective Equipment
    • Your safety gear should be Personal to you. Don’t lend it out.
  • TDS – Tie, Dress, Set
    • A knot is not well tied until it is Tied, Dressed, and Set. A knot not well tied is not a knot; it’s a what-knot. If you can’t tie a knot tie a lot. Why knot? Splice.
  • CLIPClick, Look, Inspect, Proceed
    • In reference to connecting hardware, every time you clip a carabiner or snap while climbing you should listen for an audible “Click,” Look to see if it is actually connected, Inspect it, and then Proceed.
  • CUTCompression, U, Tension
    • Used to remember to cut the compression side of wood before the tension side. You are the one in the middle of deciding which is which.
  • HOPEHazards, Obstacles, Plan, Equipment
    • A work plan should identify Hazards on a site, Obstacles to safe performance, have a Plan to overcome these, and have the right Equipment to carry it out.
  • THADS – Tie, dress, and set the knot (usually a three-wrap English prussic). Hands always below the knot. Ascending only. Debris should be kept out of the knot. spread of the rope should be less than 5:1 (in other words, the diameter of the branch that the rope is over can cause spread in the rope sufficient to fail a prussic knot). This is used to describe the proper steps in the Secured Footlock technique. While many static line ascending tools (the Rope Wrench, for example) have become common, the principles behind the acronym are still useful. If possible, incorporate the use of memory aids like these acronyms into your everyday tree climbing operations. Share them with others. And as the old ArborMaster saying goes, “We’ll see you at the top!”

What Do You Believe About Arboriculture?

I often listen to National Public Radio (read: I’m old…) on my commute to and from the jobsite. One program is called, This I Believe. The show features essays from people, some famous and others not so much, who talk about the closely held beliefs that drive their day-to-day life. In honor of those stories, I am including a list of some of my own closely held beliefs in regard to our field of arboriculture. Check it out. Think about what you do and what you believe. Read More "What Do You Believe About Arboriculture?"

How Many Links Are In Your Chain?

As tree climbers, we use guidelines to ensure that each piece of our kit meets a specified strength. However, how many of us have examined our climbing equipment as a system? And have you ever noticed how these systems can range from simple to extremely complex? This article focuses not on a particular component, or even on a particular system. Rather, we’ll focus on how these systems can increase the risk of failure as they become more complex.

Read More "How Many Links Are In Your Chain?"