Was set a bit of a challenge this week, how to climb and deadwood big trees, that have next to no branches for a significant proportion of the trunk, and no branches that will support weight after that, without using spikes! Ordinarily with tree climbing you pass your main rope over a branch, ascend the rope to that branch that pass your second line over another branch higher up, then ascend that line. This is repeated until you reach a point where an anchor point can be set and ideally all the work that needs to be completed can be carried out using that line. (This is obviously a very over simplified version of the process)
Now I knew before I turned up to do the job what was in store for me, so in anticipation I brought a 'big shot' basically a giant catapult used to get a small line high into the tree to then pull your mainline through, thus allowing you to climb the tree. Unfortunately there were no branches, even in the upper canopy that you would want to trust your life to! So to counter this I would use the smaller branches to support the rope, send the end back up to the tree thus 'choking' the rope around the tree, this enabled me to climb the rope as a fixed line, with no worry of it slipping down.
From this point on I then had to use a fairly complicated system of ropes, pulleys and ascenders to progress any further in the tree, this system was more akin to aid climbing or caving than anything you'd normally see being used in a tree, but certain trees do require you to think outside of the box! The system was by no means quick or perfect, but it worked and it was safe, and it enabled me to climb trees that 3 other firms had either refused to quote for or tried and failed! And I can now say with some confidence that I could climb any tree without the use of spikes. Providing it was safe to climb of course.
The trees were part of the go ape course at sherwood forest, the course has been open since 2003 and had not been effectively deadwooded in that time. As customers on the course spend a good deal of there time under the trees it was imperative that the dead branches were removed, this was made even more obvious to me when some out the branches I was removing would break off with only the slightest touch.
Another job tackled this week was at the go ape sight in Bracknell near london, a bit more straight forward this time, just required 2 scotts pine trees to be dismantled to allow room for a container. Pretty simple stuff really, just needed spiking up, removing all the branches on the way, untill there was about 6 metres above me, this is then felled out, and the remaining trunk taken down in sections. The last 10 metres of the trunks we felled in one piece as we needed large sections to build a bridge over a small ditch, for all terrain segways to cross over! Get to do all sorts in this game!