Tree Rigging For Removal Part 3by David Steg on 10/21/14
Carabiners. Oval, spring-loaded snap devices
that are common in rock-climbing and mountain
rescue work. They come in a range of sizes and
tensile strengths. They come in locking and nonlocking
configuration and carry ratings all the way
up to 15,000 pounds. They are handy for hanging
blocks, tools and sliding down a High-Lead.
Come-Along. Handy for adjusting tension on a
Speed-Line, or working as a hold-back on a leaning
Figure Eight Descender. Used in mountaineering
as a rappelling brake, we use them for holding
tension on a High-Lead and holding a tag line. You
can also use one to ride down a bull rope.
Ground Anchor. Rig a Speed-Line to a ground
anchor while on the job if nothing else is handy to
Hand Saw. Don't leave home without it.
Mesh Eye Goggles. Helps to keep saw dust out
of your eyes. While you're at it, protect your head
(hard hat) and ears (muffs or plugs).
Throw Line. Handy for setting a tag line or bull
rope in places where wise men fear to tread.
Wedges, plastic, falling. These little plastic
devils are cheap insurance. They'll unstick your
saw and help to lever over a leaning trunk. When
tree falling, cut the bark away where you're going
to wedge. You'll maximize the advantage. Otherwise,
you'll crush a lot of bark and not gain much
Plywood. More cheap insurance. Use it to protect
windows, cars, plants, lawns, roofs. We've
even cribbed up over a flower bed. It saved a lot of
Tires. They make a really good mat for reducing
the impact of a falling tree trunk.
Old Car. The ultimate falling tree catcher. I met a
Euc Man from Michigan who makes a regular
practice of towing a junked car to his job site and
dropping a big elm on top of it. He gets a lot of
publicity and he says it works really well.
Doing things in the proper sequence can make
the difference between an "easy", efficient job
and a back-breaking, no fun, asslosing proposition.
In general, it's a good plan to:
A. Brush out the tree first. Be sure to leave good
crotches and limbs as you go for rigging the next
section. Resist the urge to knock out the easy
stuff just to get a bunch of brush on the ground. If
its easy now, it'll be easy later. It also might make
something else easy instead of "purt-near impossible".
Keep ahead of your plan.
B. With the exception of clearing a path for a
clear shot, starting in the top and working down is
generally a good plan.
C. Consider using a High-Lead to facilitate brush
removal. I've referenced the High-Lead several
times but have not gone into rigging details. It's
hard to explain without diagrammatic sketches
and if you attended the seminar this manuscript
was handed out at, you saw the High-Lead in action.
If you didn't attend, you should contact us
about doing a seminar in your area.
D. Keep up with debris disposal. Unless you
need some brush for an impact cushion or
camouflage, keep the site clean. Ropes catch
badly in loose brush, people trip and fall, and
brush with heavy wood thrown on top is hard to
88 Blair: Rigging for Removal
There is no reason for a tree removal to cause
damage or injury. Hazard assessment is the subject
of another manuscript. All of the principles
detailed herein apply to sound, predictable wood.
Keep your rigging high and directly vertical or
design the swing away from the climber. Use a tag
line(s) to catch and control backswing.
Know what you'll need before you get there.
Bring a little extra. One less rope or one less man
can mean the difference between a disaster and a
For years, I didn't think that there was any
money in removals. You don't get any repeat
business from a removed tree. In general
removals go to the lowest (dumbest?) bidder. Big
wood is hard on the men and equipment. I
developed this opinion twenty years ago when all
we had to work with was manila rope and an occasional
wood block. In 1971 I lost a night's sleep
worrying about the next day's wreck down. It was
a huge, heavy, creekside sycamore with about
70' of 4' diameter trunk angling directly over the
peak of the house beneath. We had no blocks, no
slings, didn't know about a High-Lead, couldn't afford
a crane. My saddle was an old Davey
"nutsmasher". All I could see in my mind's eye all
night long was a log in the living room. That morning,
the tree looked just as bad as I remembered
it. I couldn't risk it. I knew there had to be a good
way to do it safely and efficiently, but at the time I
didn't know what it could be. I walked away from
the job and into a lifelong interest in design of rigging
Fifteen years later, I wouldn't thing twice about
taking that job. We'd High-Lead the brush over the
house into the street; Block the wood down
through slings, pulleys, take our wraps on the
Lowering Device. Equipment with know how and
experience does make a difference. It's the true
mark of a professional.