CVTS-L’s Aaron Feather Talks About the Importance of a Good Anchor in “TCI Magazine”

Aaron Feather, Safety and Training Director here at Cumberland Valley Tree Service – Landscaping, has published an article in the August edition of “TCI Magazine” that informs (and reminds) arborists about the importance of proper base anchoring in stationary rope systems (SRS).

“TCI Magazine” is the official publication of the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), and it is written by, for and about tree care professionals. CVTS-L has been an accredited TCIA member for more than 20 years.

With SRS climbing, a rope is run over a branch or through a crotch, and then it is tied off – often at the base of the tree (but it can be in the canopy). The arborist moves up and down on the rope why the rope remains stationary. Where the rope is tied off is referred to as the anchor.

Feather’s article is more than just a knot-tying “how-to” guide, though. His advice is as much for the crew on the ground working around the anchor as it is for the crew members in the tree. But even with the myriad of knots and the ever-changing techniques and equipment available to modern arborists, these fundamentals laid out by Feather will still apply.

Anchors are pervasive in tree care to the point that they can be taken for granted, but what happens when the stationary rope system that is supposed to keep you safe malfunctions? How can the crew members on the ground help to keep the crew members in the tree safe?

Proper etiquette and respect when working in the proximity of the anchor will help to make sure everyone gets home safely.

1. Keep the anchor of the stationary rope system simple.

Everyone on the job site needs to have a basic understanding of how the anchor works. If there is an incident aloft, the crew on the ground might be required to intervene.

2. Keep it accessible.

Make sure the working parts of the anchor are within reach of all crew members. It doesn’t do any good to know how to save the day if you can’t get to it.

3. Keep it lowerable.

“Rescue” components should be incorporated into the anchor. A simple midline loop and a lowering device can help if you need to lower an injured climber.

4. Keep it clear.

CVTS-L uses a 10-foot rule: “No cutting by anyone other than the climber within 10 feet of the anchor.” Feather keeps a damaged section of a rope next to his desk as a reminder of what’s at stake.

5. Keep the flop down.

Make sure all of the elements of the anchor remain in alignment, the carabiners load properly, and the mechanical devices lock (and unlock) only when you want them to.

A tried-and-true anchor

The article then concludes with practical, hands-on tips (with photographs) on how to build one of the more common anchors: the bowline with Yosemite tie-off and an alpine loop for a no-fuss rescue system.

Aaron Feather is a regular presenter at Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) events, and he has previously published an article in “TCI Magazine” that was directed towards advanced climbers titled “How to Apply an SRS Redirect Without Unloading Your Primary Suspension Point.”