How to Climb a Tree (using Only Rope!) the Fun/simple Way




In this instructable, I will be showing how to climb a tree using only rope, a carabiner, muscle strenght, and time.

I am not an experienced or trained climber. Don't tell me that I'm not either. I'm only showing you how to climb how I like to climb. It is the easiest, most relaxing, simplest way.

WEAR A HELMET (I didn't)

It is divided into 6 steps.
1. Equipment
2. Getting the rope into the tree
3. The harness
4. The knots
5. Climbing
6. Getting back down

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Step 1: Equipment

These are the minimum requirements to climb a tree.

1. Have at least one locking carabiner. Make sure you have one that is made for climbing! The ones that I have cost $7 each, bought at REI. They can hold 25kN (That's about 5,600 pounds)

2. Have about 15 feet of 3/4 inch rope. This will be used for the harness. It is important that is thick, because this makes for a more comfortable, satisfying harness (Unless you have a real harness)

3. Depending on the height of your tree, you will need rope that is as long as twice the height of the tree. (Use equation below) I didn't use real climbing rope, but I recommend that you do. The rope I have can hold 350 pounds. It gets the job done.
My equation!
h = height of tree
r = length of rope needed
r = 2h + 10 (IE. 30' tall tree = at least 70' of rope)

4. A tree of course! Make sure that it is some sort of oak. Oaks are very strong, large trees, with few branches at their bases.
Find a good-sized tree that is about 25-50' tall. My tree is about 30'. (I would also find a tree that isn't over a cement driveway)

Step 2: Get the Rope in the Tree.

I'm not going to show you how to get your rope in the tree :-(
But, I will say that is extremely easy if you have a tree in a good location, and the branch isn't more than 50' high (You should start low anyways)

There's a great instrucatable here

Find some sort of weight. (I used a roll of duct tape, but the heavier the better). Tie your rope around it, and swing it until it wraps around the branch you want.

Once in the tree, get slack in the rope and "whip" the rope. You'll know what I mean. It will be your first instinct. You do this foot by foot until the hanging end with the weight comes down to your level.

Step 3: The Harness

This is a very important step, and it is crucial that you get it right.

The comfort really depends on the rope and positioning

I am using a rope harness called the swiss seat. It is a very common harness. If my pictures and tutorial are confusing, you can find it on Google somewhere. It is a very common search.

Follow along with the pictures.

Harness Video

Step 4: The Knots

There are only two knots that we'll be tying.
1. I'm not sure if it has a name, but I didn't make it up. It's a real knot
2. The Blake's hitch. The best climbing hitch for our purposes.

Follow the pictures once again. The first is the noname. The second is the Blake's Hitch

Once again, if you can't figure it out from the pictures, go to Google. There are plenty of sites that show how to make knots

Step 5: CLIMBING(Finally)

Ok. Let's start to climb. It is very simple. It takes several minutes, but then you start to get in the rhythm.

1. Wrap your hand around the rope that is hanging down. Don't wrap excessively, just once, enough to have a good comfortable grip.

2. Pull down on that rope. The goal is not to have your weight on the rope above you, but the rope you are pulling down. It takes a bit of strength, and it's something that everybody can do easily, unless you're doing it wrong. (There is a video below)

3. You probably used two hands to pull the first rope down. If you did it right you moved up about 6 inches ( after a while it isn't that bad). Now. you need to hold the rope you pulled down held down below your waist, or however far you pulled. Hopefully, it will sort of lock, and you can slide up you're Blake's hitch up with your left hand as far as you can. From there, the Blake's hitch should do its magic, and keep you held in place.

4. Repeat

If you couldn't get it by reading, look at the pictures, and watch the video(The video's focus got a little messed up, but you can see better


Step 6: AH! I'm Stuck! Get Me Back Down!

Calm down! It's really easy!

Grab the hitch. Pull down in the top. See? Just make sure you do it slowly, and at intervals to prevent the rope from melting, and the branch from burning!

Watch the video once again.
And there are two other video's that I just decided to dump on this step.




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    220 Discussions


    10 months ago on Introduction

    Wow, great job! As a fellow tree climber, I am deeply impressed. Great instructable. Happy climbing!


    Reply 2 years ago

    ...same like if the you are not careful and instead to choose a pool with water to dive in, you choose one with no water in, dive in, ...common sense is mandatory in every action of our life.


    Reply 2 years ago

    I think it's kind of implied, that one who would want to climb a tree would choose a sturdy branch. ;-)


    Reply 7 years ago on Step 6

    1. You yell ahhhhh!
    2. You hit the ground with a thump sound!
    3. You DON'T hit the ground with any snapping or crushing noises!
    4. You say OUCH!
    5. You find a bigger branch or lighter climber!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    This is a very good instructable and I think it awesome that your getting into ropes. I'm a rope access tech. and I think it is great that your getting into this type of activity. One thing I would recommend is using an some type of anchor knot instead of a girth hitch (the unnamed knot). A figure 8 is usually the standard because it is very strong (won't untie itself) and effecient (doesn't weaken the rope much. One thing to note is every knot will weaken the rope to some extent you just need to do some research) it is also easy to inspect. Also props for using a swiss seat as those are not the most comfortable harnesses in the world. One thing you might want to consider is using tubular webbing to tie hasty harness instead if you don't want to buy one. It's more comfortable (in my opinion) and when tied with a water knot very strong.

    Keep up to good work dude and happy climbing!!!


    10 years ago on Step 1

    Momentum will make a weight 6x more in 1 foot. Therefore, if you weight 100 lbs, you will generate 600lbs of force on a rope with a 1 foot fall. I suggest you get stronger rope. Most rope accidents happen with 1 meter falls.

    10 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 1

    I agree. My rope can support 500lbs, but now that you say that... I looked up on eBay. You can get 90' of climbing rope used once for about $60. I think it's worth the money.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    It appears you're using static rope in your video. This is good for hauling yourself since you don't have to deal with a stretchy rope. This is bad for falling, however. Once you reach the end of your fall, the entire force of the fall is transmitted to your body via the harness. People have died from falls on static line as short as a few feet. If falling is ever a possibility, you should be using a dynamic rope. This rope will stretch in a fall, absorbing a lot of the force of the fall. I wouldn't recommend trusting your life to a used rope. You don't know if the rope has been used or stored properly, and it could end up breaking in a fall. Is your life not worth the $120 cost of a new climbing rope?


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    There's a whole lot of techie stuff about ropes. What you are doing in the video is fine on a static (less than 5% stretch) rope. There is no chance of you falling whilst doing what is shown in the video. If you are doing anything where you could fall (eg climbing onto the tree branch once you get up there) then a fall onto static rope could indeed cause either the rope, your harness or you to fail catastrophically as Maestro8 says. Bear in mind that as soon as you tie a knot you weaken the rope- best to allow 1/3rd off the rope's strength for the knot (there are specific values for different knots but this makes it easy) You only take the 1/3rd off once. If you are interested I suggest you go to the Petzl website and look at their very good details on what to and not to do with gear. They used to have some good stuff on fall factors which would fill you in on a few basics. I'm not sure I'd go for a pulley tho. While it would make going up much easier it might make coming down too fast! Also you then get into issues of attaching the pulley gear to the tree which is probably best avoided until you have more knowledge. Why not join a climbing or caving club in your area I think you might enjoy it and you could learn some stuff from existing members? NEVER buy used rope, EVER. You have no idea what it has been subjected to and there has to be a reason why they are selling it! Used climbing ropes (especially from an unknown source) should only be used for towing your car, tying down gear or destruct testing.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    You basically just said exactly what maestro8 just said, with a little bit more filling of your own and you put it in your own words.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    in metric 10m/s2 I think if I remember rightly. Which means that if you fall (starting speed 0) in the end of the first second you will be going at 10 metres per second (well about 9. something but 10 to make it easy). In the next second you will gain another 10 metres per second velocity and so on until you reach terminal velocity (125km????) or terminate by hitting the ground. I learned it in metric so not sure what the imperial measure would work out at.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Other wise know as 9.8 meters per second per second. Its just less confusing squared.