Intro: How to Climb a Tree (with Prussiks!)
Once you can climb a tree, you can climb the world!
I wanted to learn to climb up stuff using rope, so I selected this fabulous tree on a street in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, and climbed it!
The theory is that you have two self-tightening rope knots. You put your foot in one, and step up.
You loosen and move the knot attached to the harness at your hips a little higher.
Then you rest on that knot, and move the foot-knot up. Step on the foot knot, and repeat.
Perhaps a little slowly, you can easily climb up a rope!
This is kind of a climbing instructable, not just a tree-climbing instructable,
because you can also easily climb anything you can throw a rope over.
Like the tree!
Step 1: Ropes
We're gonna do this with ropes, so put on your climbing harness.
If you're trying to climb a tree the "normal" way, the instructions are your brain, and I won't write them here.
I know you can even make your harness out of ropes, but I don't know how to do that so I can't show you here. I'm just gonna use a store-bought harness lent to me by prank
Go on, put on your harness.
We used webbing straps and two carabiners to attach rope to the tree.
Make sure that you use carabiners approved for use in climbing.
We used a 50 ft. length of dynamic rope.
You really want static rope for rappelling, but in this case dynamic rope worked.
We used a climbing harness each
And two round rope loops for the prussiks.
To round out the ingredients, pick your favorite tree!
Step 2: Sling the Rope Over a Sturdy Branch of the Tree
First, select a decently sturdy-looking branch, and throw your rope over it.
You'll want this branch to be strong enough to catch your weight if you're falling, so make sure sturdy is really sturdy.
Prank climbed the tree first, and used webbing straps to secure the rope, and then rappelled down with an 8, to begin the true tree-climbing.
I don't remember the words to describe the knotting, but you can tell what happened from the pictures.
By the way, what's the best resource for learning about knots? I'm curious about knot-theory, but diving into mathematical manifolds seem abstract beyond practical. Is there a middle ground between just memorizing knots with your hands, and thinking about knots that don't actually exist?
Step 3: Tie Prussiks
These are the cool part! Make a rope step ladder out of only rope!
These knots called prussiks (shown below) self-tighten and grip onto a rope when you step into the loop, but can easily be loosened to slide around.
You tie the prussik by slipping a loop of rope through itself a few times.
If you know what a lark's head knot is, tie that, but slip the rope through the loop more than once to get this.
For this, three turns were enough. Four was disastrously frictionful, too much to be useful for climbing this tree.
I started with four and reduced it to three.
You can read more about prussiks here.
Step 4: Become One With the Machine
Clip your carabiner into the prussik. You and the tree are now mechanically linked!
Step 5: Climb the Tree
Now start ratcheting yourself up the rope, up the tree.
I alternated between standing on my foot, in the foot-prussik,
and hanging from my harness, from the hip-prussik.
While standing on my foot, I slid the hip-prussik upwards.
Then I rested on it and it auto-gripped so I could loosen and slide the foot prussik upwards.
It was a little awkard to only ever have one foot supported. Also, you definitely can't do this barefoot.
When you get to the top, enjoy! Have a tea party or something, enjoy the view, enjoy the breeze
(especially if it's as hot as LA was, that day.)
Step 6: Rappel Down
This is where prussiks are (kind of) awesome!
All you have to do is squeeze the prussik knot, and it loosens and you can slide down the rope!
The downside is that you have to successfully do this to two knots at once;
fortunately, if you screw up, you just come to a halt on the rope.
You can also control your descent rate by how much you grip the knot,
which controls the friction between the rope and the knot.
I'm squeezing pretty hard, and making the accompanying face to show what it's like to loosen two four-turn prussiks enough to get it to slide. It worked well enough to prove the theory, but I abandoned the prussiks in favor of using an 8 for the rappelling.