Private Land

Private land is another matter. You have to judge how likely you are to be noticed and what the consequences would be. If the chance of being noticed is high, as when the owner lives on the property - ask them. The worst that can happen is that they say no. Then respect their wishes. We can't climb all of the trees!

Above all, climb responsibly and with consideration to the trees and the land, wherever you climb. The trees are living, breathing beings, treat them kindly and they will treat you well too. Make sure to use rope leathers to protect branches from abrasion injury, especially in thin-barked trees like beech and sycamore. Try not to break off living branches - go around if you can.

This fictional story could have taken place anywhere in the eastern forests of the US or Canada or in some of the deciduous stands in the west. I included it merely to put the whole thing in sequence and hopefully create an image of the actual steps involved to help a new climber know what to expect.

The climber, Sianna, a woman of about forty-five, dressed in camo trousers and a gray sweatshirt and carrying a pack, hikes into the grove where she will climb. The grove is in a national park and she knows that, while there are no laws expressly forbidding what she is doing, that many if not most, rangers would stop her from doing it just to protect themselves.

She selects a large, healthy oak with a broad top and, since it is on the ridge facing the lake; she expects that she will likely have a pretty nice view from the top! Even before taking off her pack she has decided where she will place her first anchor, how she will climb the first pitch and where she will stand for her best shot with the shot pouch.

The first limb is about forty-five feet up. She has decided to climb the first pitch on a single rope since it will be less strenuous.

Moving under the tree, she unloads her pack. She takes her shot pouch and her throw line in its Linemug to the spot from which she has decided to throw to her first anchor. She attaches the shot pouch to the end of the throw line. Opening the Linemug all the way, she sets it on the ground in front of her where the line can feed out freely. She ties a slip knot in the throw line about a foot and a half above the shot pouch's ring. Holding the line by this knot she lets the shot pouch take a few tentative swings. Then, taking aim, she tosses and... it hits the limb and falls short. She restacks the throw line at her feet and throws again, this time putting it nicely over the limb she was aiming for. Only two throws...

not a bad start.

Paying out line, she lowers the shot pouch to the ground. She removes it from the end of throw line. Retrieving her rope from the pack, she uncoils it in a pile at the base of the tree. Her leather sleeves are already on the ends of her rope, held there by overhand knots. She unties the overhand knot on the top enc of the rope and ties the throw line to the rope with several half hitches. She pulls on the throw line, hauling the rope up and over the limb. She holds onto the leather sleeve while she does this to keep it from sliding up the rope. Since she is climbing the first pitch on a single rope she won't need it right away. She ties a figure-8 on a bight in the end of the rope with about a 10 inch tail into which she ties an overhand knot as a back up. She clips one of her locking carabiners through the loop and around the standing part of the rope and locks the gate. She pulls on the standing part, sending the carabiner up to anchor her at the limb.

Sianna then moves to the pack and puts on her saddle, reattaching the shot pouch to a side clip. She attaches her ascenders and her safety line to the delta ring on her saddle and checks that she has a pair of locking carabiners and two or three non-locking carabiners. She moves to the Linemug and restacks the throw line into the bag with the end exposed and secured from snagging on wayward branches. She clips the Linemug to her saddle for possible use in the tree. She zips up her now nearly empty pack and puts it on so as to leave no evidence of her presence on the ground.

She attaches her top ascender to the rope and pushes it up as far as it will go. Then, pulling down on the rope, she simultaneously hops up and pushes the ascender up again. Now she is sitting in her saddle, swinging gently a couple of feet above the ground. She then clips her lower ascender to the rope, slides it up as far as she can, stands on it and slides the upper ascender up. Repeating this motion several times, she ascends to the limb she is anchored on.

Her next anchor will be on a branch directly overhead about eight to ten feet. She pulls up the other end of her climbing rope, untying the knot that secures the sleeve. She removes the shot pouch from its clip on her saddle and slides the end of the rope through the ring on the shot pouch, tying a knot to keep the bag from sliding off. She pulls about fifteen feet of rope through the leather sleeve so she won't have to throw it with the rope.

She lets the shot pouch down three or four feet, gathers a few coils of rope up in her throwing hand and aims. Swinging the shot pouch in an ever-longer arc under her, she lets it go when she feels that the arc is right to send the bag over the target limb and hits it the first time. She smiles at her success.

Throwing a couple of loops up the rope allows the shot pouch to drop to where she can reach it. She unties the knot in the end of the rope and replaces the shot pouch on the clip at her hip.

Now Sianna needs to get the leather sleeve over the anchor limb to protect it since she will be climbing to the next anchor on a double rope. She slides the sleeve up the rope as far as she can reach and ties a downward untying slip knot below it. Pulling on the other part of the rope she pulls the sleeve up until it straddles the anchor limb. Pulling on both parts of the rope at the same time unties the slip knot.

She takes the free end of the rope and ties her figure-8 on a bight with about a three foot tail for the Blake's Hitch. She clips the bight to the delta ring on her saddle with her second locking carabiner, making sure to lock the gate. Then she ties the Blake's Hitch on the Hauling part of the rope. When it is complete, she hauls herself up by pulling down on the Hauling part and sliding the Blake's Hitch up until her weight is on the second anchor. She then removes her ascenders from the first anchor and clips them to her saddle. She unhooks the first anchor from the limb and reattaches it to her saddle in readiness for the third anchor. She starts climbing, pulling on the hauling part of the rope while throwing her hips upward, and sliding the Blake's hitch upward to hold her while she does it all again.

Sianna is as near the top as she can safely get after four more double rope anchors. She is anchored on a crotch that has two healthy, three inch limbs emerging from it in a broad U shape. She rests, enjoying the view. The motion of the tree in the moderate wind and the sun shining down on her shoulders through the canopy feel great. Looking around, she identifies at least three good Treeboat sites for another day... or night.

After a bit, she lowers herself to a large, horizontal limb about sixty feet from the ground and sidesteps her way out toward the end. About ten feet from the end she finds three limbs forking out in such a way that they form a seat and she sits down.

Sianna hears the rustle of leaves in the woods below made by someone walking. Gathering up her hanging rope, she sits quietly and waits. After a few minutes, she recognizes two friends, Steve and Diane, who have come to climb also. They have seen her car at the trail head and know she is here climbing but don't know in which tree. Like her, they are dressed to blend in, not to stand out. She smiles as she listens to their quiet conversation as they speculate which of the trees in the grove she might be in. After a few minutes of searching one of them spots her. They smile and wave, and call out a quiet greeting.

Sianna asks if they'd like to join her and if they'd like a line.

Since she is in the tree, it is an easier task for her to get their ropes up than it is for them. Taking out her shot pouch and throw line, she tosses the shot pouch through a nearby crotch and lowers it to the ground . Steve clips the end of his rope to it and Sianna hauls it up through the crotch. Pulling up enough rope to reach the ground again, she lowers the end of the rope to him with the shot pouch still attached. Steve unclips the shot pouch and Sianna hauls it up and then repeats the favor for Diane over another limb.

Soon they are all up in the tree. Steve and Diane have brought a Treeboat and they set it up. Anchored above the hanging platform, they make themselves comfortable head to foot and break out books.

Sianna soon has to leave because of other obligations., After another hike out onto her horizontal limb, she swings back to the trunk and descends to her first anchor limb where she makes another double rope anchor and descends to the ground.

Sianna now unclips from the rope and unties the Blake's Hitch. Pulling on one end, the rope and sleeve come down to be packed. She checks the ground around for loose or dropped gear and finds none. She calls a quiet farewell to her friends and heads for the trailhead with a full body grin.

Note to the reader:

I was in the process of writing this story when I received word that our first granddaughter had been born. Her name is Sianna. The woman in the stoiy caries her name to honor her. S/ie is, of course, the most beautiful and intelligent child to have ever walked the Earth! -Grandpa

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