A challenging part of rappelling is finding an anchor. What are the chances of rappelling down a tree? What is the best way to accomplish rappelling on a tree? Having more options for rappelling anchors is always a plus for climbers. In order to make everything easier for you, we have decided to learn more about it and provide this article for you.
What is the best way to rappel from a tree? When rappelling from a tree, there are two things you need to know:
- What to look for when choosing a tree for a rappell
- Checking the tree’s location
- Taking a look at the tree’s health
- Testing the strength of the tree
- How to set up a rappelling anchor
How To Pick The Right Tree
There’s only one thing standing between you and a mighty fall: the tree. You must therefore choose one that is suitable for the job.
When selecting the right tree for your anchor, you need to perform three checks.
Check The Tree’s Location
You can narrow down your options by performing this first check.
Trees growing near cliff edges should be avoided. Even though they may seem like ideal locations for anchors, they might not have the best support. The roots of trees that grow at the edge are restricted. An edge of a cliff is typically rocky, so the roots have less soil to work with. These roots may be shallow and less established than those growing further inland.
It is best to choose a tree that is at least 10 feet (3 meters) away from the edge.
A healthy tree should be checked out
A dying or dead tree should never be used. Even if they seem strong or stable, their core could be rotting. It is unlikely that a dead tree’s roots could support any heavy loads.
In addition to checking the life of a tree, you should also ensure it is healthy.
To determine if a tree is healthy, check the following:
- It is important that the leaves on the tree are healthy and not wilted. Make sure the leaves are the right color for the season. There should be no bare spots on the tree. In addition to shedding, you can observe the following signs when the tree sheds during certain months.
- There should not be any peeling or loose bark on the tree (with the exception of birch, eucalyptus or maple trees).
- There should be no fungi or moss growing on the bark.
- There should be no open wounds, large cracks, or holes in the tree.
- There should not be an excessive number of bugs on the tree. Examine the bark, branches, and leaves for small holes that may be the result of insects. There may be a problem if the holes are all over the tree.
Verify the strength of the tree
A general rule is that a thicker tree trunk will be stronger.
When you only see a bunch of skinny looking trees, how do you choose which one to plant?
There are no hard and fast rules. Some common guidelines are as follows:
- Choose a tree whose trunk is thicker than your thigh.
- Choose a tree that has a trunk at least 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter.
Well-rooted trees usually have thick trunks. Even so, it’s not a bad idea to be doubly certain.
When you have picked out the tree, press your shoulder or back against it. Put your strength into it as if you were trying to push down a tree. Check to see if the tree wobbles or moves at all. If it does, try another tree.
Two trees can also be used for extra security when rappelling. As a result, the trees will be more evenly loaded.
You must, however, ensure that both trees pass the tests mentioned above. Do not rely on a tree that may be unsafe because you think you have another one as a backup because if one of the trees give way during a rappel, the remaining tree will get a sudden shock. This additional force will increase the risk of that tree failing as well.
Whenever you pick trees, try to find two that are close together. Trees close together will exert less force on anchor points.
Anchors should be set up so that runners form an angle less than 90 degrees. If possible, keep the angle below 60 degrees.
When the angle is less than 60 degrees, the load is distributed roughly 50/50 between the two anchors. As you approach 90 degrees, you start to see 71% of the total load on each anchor. Each anchor is subject to 100% load when the angle is 120 degrees. Rappelling from either of the trees or only using one of them is equally effective at this point.
Setting Up The Rappelling Anchor
Equipment to Use
An anchor should be first set up by securing a runner or sling made of webbing (instead of accessory cord) around the tree. Rather than looping directly on the tree, the climbing rope passes through the runner.
Webbing comes in two types – tubular and flat. Climbing is made easier by tubular webbing, which is thicker and stronger. A flat webbing strap would be like the ones on backpacks, not intended for climbing. To know more about the equipment required to rappel safely, you need to check this article!
Making anchors requires you to use 1 inch (2 cm) wide tubular webbing.
Trees can be climbed by using climbing ropes. In fact, you may see it in numerous articles or videos. You shouldn’t, however, do this for the following reasons:
- The trunk of a tree can cause the rope to be damaged by abrasion.
- There is a possibility that your ropes are soiled with resins from trees.
- Rope retrieval from trees is more difficult because of friction.
- With repeated use, the ropes may harm or kill the tree.
Runners or slings will be abandoned after the climb. A runner or sling should have a length that does not constrict around the tree trunk. It is important to give the tree trunk room to grow. It is important that the runner or sling is at least twice the diameter of the tree trunk.
A Place To Tie The Anchor
Runners and ropes are usually secured at the base of the tree trunk.
Climbers may attach the runner on a tree branch after the rappel to make retrieving the rope easier. With the higher anchor point, however, the tree is given more leverage. Additionally, you need to make sure that the tree branch is strong enough to support the rappel.
How To Tie An Anchor
To secure your runners or slings to the tree, you have a few options.
- The first option is the most straightforward. A runner should be tied around the tree.
- The second option is to wrap the tree with a tied runner.
- The third option is to secure a runner around a tree, tie a girth hitch on the runner.
Wrapping the runner twice around the tree is another option if you have a longer piece available. The lower loop is used to attach the climbing rope. The upper loop tightens around the tree in order to keep it in place. Whenever you want to better secure the runner to a fixed point on a tree, this technique can be useful. You want to place the anchor low on a smaller tree to reduce leverage on the tree, for example. The anchor may need to be higher up on the larger tree. Afterward, it will be easier to retrieve the rope.
If you do not feel comfortable using one runner as your anchor, you can add 1 or 2 more runners and secure your rope through them all.
There are a few things to keep in mind when using runners made of webbing:
- Be sure to tie each knot using a Water Knot (also known as a Ring Bend). However, the knot can loosen with repeated use or when it catches on a snag. Use the runner only after checking the knot. With longer and Overhand Knots at its tails, you can minimize the risk. The Flat Overhand Bend is an alternative knot you can use.
- When tying the knot, do not twist the runner.
- The tails after the knot should be at least 3 inches (8 cm) long.
- You should step on the sling after you’ve tied the knot and pull hard to tighten it. In this way, the knot is less likely to come undone.
A Guide To Attaching Ropes
You will need to attach the rope to the runner once it has been set up. Double rope strands are more common than single strands when rappelling. The friction created by double-stranded rope will decrease the effectiveness of the belay device. It is easier to control the rappel this way. The rope can also be removed at the end of the rappel.
The rope is tied to the anchor at one end when rappelling on a single strand. When the climber returns to the anchor point to remove the rope, this is usually done.
The anchor will look like this with double strands of rope and single strands:
In addition, there are three different ways to tie your rope to runner or sling.
1. Straddle the runner directly with the rope.
If you pull the rope against the runner while setting up the anchor or retrieving the rope, you might cause friction damage.
2. Use a rappel ring to attach the rope to the runner.
Make sure that the rappel rings are not welded (older ones are) as those can break.
If the rappel ring fails, climbers may also tie another runner to the rope.
3. Use a locking carabiner to attach the rope to the runner.
The advantage of using carabiners is that they are easier to leave behind after rappelling than rappel rings.
The Best Way To Equilibrate Anchors When Rappelling From Two Trees
Make sure you maintain an angle of below 90 degrees when rappelling from two trees.
It is necessary to use a separate runner for each tree. The same runner should not be used on both trees! This will weaken the system and increase the load on each tree.
With a rappel ring or carabiner, you can secure the runners together or pass the rope through both runners.
Next, you must ensure that the anchor points are equal. It means that the load is evenly distributed between the 2 anchor points. In this way, the anchor points will become more reliable.
Runners should be equalized by running down the center of the angle created by the load. In cases where the load is not running down the center, one of the anchors will be under more strain.
To get the right placement, you may have to untie and retie the runners several times.
If the loading direction cannot be predicted precisely, you may be unable to do so. Therefore, it is important to keep the angle between the runners as small as possible. Even if the loading direction is off-center, the anchors will be able to handle the increased load.
It is also for this reason that every tree needs to be a reliable anchor.
Can One rappel from an existing anchor on a tree?
You may find a tree with a runner already attached.
It’s not always true that the tree you choose is the best!
You still need to run through all the above checks. A change may have occurred in the tree’s health since the rappel was last set up.
It is also possible for a tree to be injured or damaged if you rappel off it repeatedly. Ensure there are no deep grooves and cuts on the trunk caused by runners or ropes.
When the tree still appears to be a good choice, remove the old runners (if possible) and use your own runners. Even if the existing runners appear to be new, they may have been there for a long time. Experiencing excess sunlight and the elements will compromise the webbing’s strength.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
How to retrieve a rope after rappelling?
If you want to know that how to retrieve a rope a after rappelling, then you need to check out a article written by us.
How to build a tree anchor?
You’ll need two double-length slings or cordelettes to create the anchor. The tree must be at least 5 inches in diameter and firmly rooted. The sling/cord needs to be wrapped around the tree, matched, and tied on a bight in a figure eight as a master point.
How to rappel from a tree?
To know how to rappel from a tree you need to check out this videos!