No.42 SRT Techniques from around the world (10)
In 2018 The Wooden Hand produced a hand drawn booklet about SRT techniques which features climbers from Japan, Germany, New Zealand, UK and America. Each month this year I will introduce a technique at ODSK.
'Tangles' by Kevin Bingham (USA)
“ There are some things that I have improved at since I started climbing professionally. One of the things I notice is how much less time I spend untangling strings and ropes now than I did back then. I still spend so much time untangling, but the activity is easier and I don’t find it so frustrating. I have even come to enjoy the challenge of tangled string, being able to dissect a
tangle, spot where the loops are caught and free them, letting the string flake true. So much of my job is about this one skill. Untangling is one of the most fundamental skills of our profession and it directly correlates to being able to freely access the tree, planning routes, climbing through the tree, and getting all your gear out and packing up in a timely manner. Planning the route is all about keeping the tangles at bay. Tangles represent the biggest obstacle to a clean climb. Keeping the rope paths clean and straight can be a puzzle. This is hard enough with one line but you start adding in rigging lines, tag lines, speed lines and the tangles can compound themselves.
Once, as a young apprentice climber, I was given the task of cabling an oak, no chainsaw required, simple enough task. It was the first time that I had used two tie-in-points and it was the first time that I had dealt with a length of cable that long. I became so completely entangled with the tails of my rope and the cable that my movement ground to a complete holt and I required assistance in the form of another climber to untangle me. That experience traumatised me and gave me a look
into the real life consequences of the tangle. One of the advantages of climbing SRT is the ease of which it is to avoid tangles. I really enjoy looking at a climb and making a decision on exactly how much rope I need in order to complete my
climb. In a DdRT system you have to climb with whatever length of rope you have regardless of the size of tree. Using a 200 foot rope in a 30 foot tree is a nightmare. The laws of tangles makes sure that no matter what you do the tail of your moving rope system will become tangled in the branches below you, in the cut branches on the ground, or around that ornamental glass statue in the garden….or all three. Using stationary rope with a tail the perfect length is such a pleasure after spending years trying to manage tangles in my tail on the other side of the tree or the ground.
Tangles are a fascinating study in chaos theory. The random complexities, the nature of rope, and the inevitable outcome. It is a basic rule that tangles cannot be fought with anger and frustration or they will simply tighten and become more and more entrenched. Tangles must be caressed and touched tenderly with patience, with an understanding that the very nature of string-that-tangles is the same quality that makes it such an awesome and powerful tool.”