[TowerTalk] Tree Climbing

Stan Griffiths w7ni@teleport.com
Thu, 19 Feb 1998 20:58:29 -0800 (PST)

> I have the need to climb some trees in my backyard for some stealthy 
>antennas.  I'm wondering where I can get information on the needed 
>supplies for climbing a tree?  Seems like I'll need some spikes of some 
>"Hey Bill, what are you doing up in that tree at two o'clock in the 
>"Ummmm... Errrrr...."
>Bill, W4AN

I have a few suggetions to offer, Bill.

Be aware that there is more than one kind of tree climbing spikes.  For
climbing telephone and power poles, the spikes themselves are not very long
(maybe an inch) since there is no bark on utility poles.  Some trees, like
fir trees that we have in the Pacific Northwest, have thick bark and it is
not very reliable, that is, your spikes could cut out and you could slip and
might get hurt.  You need longer spikes, like two inches, for climbing trees
with significant bark on them.

I ALWAYS have my belt around the tree.  Even a fall of two or three feet can
injure you.  When going around branches, you really need a second lanyard
around the tree so you are always attached.  It is a lot harder to get the
lanyard around a tree and above a branch than it is to get it above a set of
guy wires on a tower.  You can't reach through the tree to help get the belt
around the tree.  This is the time your spikes are most likely to cut out of
the tree since you will be moving your feet some while you try to put the
lanyard around the tree above a branch.  Very dangerous.

If you have not done this before, you will discover muscles you never knew
you had, especially in your calves and legs.  I suggest a few trial climbs
of 10 feet or so just to get a feel for it before you try the real thing.
You will find out how exhausting it is to do this.  Allow a day or two for
your legs to ache and then quit aching, after the trial climbs.

Coming down is harder than going up.  This is because you can't easily see
where you have to plant your spike next.  It is below your lowest foot.  If
it is dark when you come down, God help you!  Your footing on a tree when
using spikes is not predictable like the rungs of a tower.  You need to SEE
CLEARLY what you are doing.

Here is another consideration:  Each time you put a spike in the tree, you
injure it and it will bleed.  If it is a pine tree, for example, the next
trip up that tree will cover you with pitch from the injuries to the tree
from the last trip.
The next trip will be even worse.

Here is what I did to some trees in my yard:  I bought some big spikes at
the local hardware store and installed them in the tree as permanent steps.
The spikes I bought were about 8 inches long and 3/8 inch in diameter.  I
drilled a 1/4 inch hole about 3 inches deep in the tree where I wanted to
install a step.  I drove the spikes in about 4 inches with a heavy hammer.
There was a small amount of pitch from this but far less than from using
climbing spikes.  You can hardly see these spikes from the ground.  Putting
them in may attract some attention, but not nearly as much as having the
fire department rescue you from the tree after dark . . . :-)

Your worst nightmare will be if you take a stab at the tree with your spike
and miss and sink it into your other leg . . . OW!!  It has happened.

If I were you, I would forget the tree climbing spike idea completely.  But,
if you persist, I do own a pair of good tree climbing spikes that I have
owned for about 35 years that I would consider selling to you.  Used about
three times . . . Let me know . . .

Stan  w7ni@teleport.com

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