Thursday, July 15, 2010

47 Years Old And Still Climbing Trees...

I mentioned before that I was going to climb trees this summer. Well... I am climbing trees.

For about a month now, I've had all the gear and have been "practicing" in my yard. I've climbed many of our oak trees, and gradually graduated to climb our 100 foot tall Ponderosa Pine.

This is not to say that things have gone without incident.

Oh no. I can't be involved with something and not have something go awry.

As my English friend Paulie used to say when introducing me, "This is my friend Scotty. Stuff happens to him".

The first thing I did wrong was climb up an oak tree and get stuck there, unable to get down.

Let me explain.

When I bought my gear, the guy selling it to me was trying to sell me a special "descender" worth about 150 bucks.

"Nah... I don't need it," I said. "I've got an old eight I can rappel with".

Which was true and you can, but the problem is YOU CAN'T LOAD YOUR WEIGHT ONTO THE EIGHT WITHOUT FIRST TAKING YOUR WEIGHT OFF OF EVERYTHING ELSE.

When you climb using ascenders, you are hanging in mid-air on a rope. You climb by transfering your weight between two ascenders- you hang from one and move the other up the rope. Then you hang from the other and move the first ascender. You essentially inch-worm your way up a rope, but all the while, you have weight on one ascender or the other.

If you take your weight off both ascenders at the same time, you fall down.

Gravity works that way.

The only way to put an eight on a rope so that you can rappel is to take ALL of your weight off the rope. The only way to do that is to get off the rope and climb onto a branch.

But you have to have a branch available BELOW where you anchored your rope or you will just have to hang in the air, wondering what good are 75 year old folks for rescue if they won't leave the TV and come outside to see what all the hollering is about...

My first really serious self-taught climbing lesson was not how to climb a rope using ascenders, but how to climb DOWN a rope using ascenders...

That's a handy bit of knowledge to know, when you can't get a fire truck out because your old folks are busy watching Jeopardy.

I shot this piece of vid about 90 feet up our 100 foot Ponderosa. Video was the only way to subjectively show that I was actually pretty high off the ground.

Did you know that when the wind blows hard in the afternoons and you are way up a tree, the tree not only sways but it TWISTS?

It feels like you are clinging to the neck of a giant animal.

August and September are the months I go climb the 300 foot redwoods...

If you're around Shirley, I sent more good thoughts your way all day today...

5 comments:

fairyhedgehog said...

I've always loved climbing trees but this is serious tree climbing like I've never done! Wow!

Jeannie said...

I used to love climbing trees but we never had anything like you. Still, the up wasn't as much of a problem as the coming down. Since my neck's been bad, I am not confident enough in my motor control to even climb on my roof to clean the eavestroughs. I tried but just didn't trust me. It was a sad day.

meno said...

I hope you are still climbing trees at 97, but hopefully with the correct gear.

dogbait said...

WTF do you want to be climbing trees at your age? I gave it up at 6 when I fell out of one and discovered plaster.

Nancy Dancehall said...

You're never too old to climb a tree or swing in a swing.

"Wing" is now up at whttp://www.cezannescarrot.org/