Knowing the Ropes - The Arborist's Lifeline.


Knowledge regarding rope material, and construction, is literally a lifeline for a climbing arborist.  Rope should be carefully considered before a climb commences. Efficiency and safety are both tied up in your choice of rope.

Which rope is best ?

An aborist needs rope that is not only strong but also flexible. Fibres for rope construction fall into two main categories -

Natural Fibres – Common natural fibres used for rope making include cotton, hemp and sisal.

Synthetic Fibres (man-made fibres) -  May include nylon, polypropylene and polyester.

Climbing arborists employ the use of ropes made from synthetic material rather than natural fibres. This synthetically constructed rope is often referred to as Dynamic Rope and far exceed those constructed from natural fibre in their durability and strength.

DuPont scientist, Wallace Carothers developed the concept of ropes constructed from nylon during World War II. This concept has been expanded extensively since, particularly in the construction of specialised climbing rope.

It is not only the material used that is crucial for safety and strength but also the construction of these fibres. The construction of the rope is vital in ensuring purpose specific performance for an arborist.

Rope Construction Types –

Kernmantle Rope –  (or Dynamic rope) Has a woven exterior protecting an interior core and is utilized for climbing. It's construction lends it flexibility, strength and durability. The majority of Kernmantle ropes have a  nylon core and sheath for extra resistance to abrasion.

Brait Rope is rope often favoured by arborists. It is a combination of plaited and braided rope and due to its energy absorption qualities. The construction of this rope was pioneered by Yale Cordage.

Handling and Storing

To maintain rope avoid point listed below -

Overheating – Store somewhere cool and dry and away from corrosive agents to maximize lifespan.

Correct coiling – Coil correctly to prevent weakening of fibre through kinking.

Working load – Ensure the fibre and construction type of the rope suits the purpose for which you are using it to ensure maximum performance.

Kinking and hockling – A rope becomes irreversibly damaged at the point of hockling, weakening it and decreasing its life span.

Shock load – To preserve lifespan of fibres a rope should not be used to the estimated capacity of its full strength.

Abrasion – Any abrasive action will risk disintergration of rope fibre and lead to subsequent weakening of rope.

Check the condition of rope regularly

Signs of damage include -

Volume reduction – Loss of mass, due to wearing or breakage.

Pulled strands – Inconsistencies in strand formation.

Cut strands – Damage to strands.

Melting or waxing – Heat damage to synthetic fibres.

Replace your rope if any of the above  signs of damage are evident.

To tie things up -

There are three stages in the creation of an effective knot.

Tie – To construct the knot.

Dress – To neaten and align the knot.

Set – To secure the knot ready for use.

The two knots that aborists seem to favour -

Bowline – The most versatile of knots and is sometimes referred to as the king of knots.

The bowline knot always remains easy to untie even under the heaviest of loads.

Clove Hitch – Also known as the Waterman's Knot  can be tied with one hand.

As a climbing arborist you need to know your ropes, and knots. The best way to avoid a tangle is assess the job, and ascertain the rope you need with that specific purpose in mind. The type of rope you use forms the foundation of safety for you and your team. From there the only way is up!  For more information, contact ARBOR CENTRE PTY LTD


14 April 2015

Using Your Trees for Fun, Form and Function

Hi, my name is Christine. As a lifelong lover of the Shel Silverstein book "The Giving Tree," I have always been interested in the many different relationships one can have with a tree. I own a relatively large property with several trees, and I have worked hard to make those trees an essential part of my life. Some of my trees provide me with food, others provide me with energy-efficient shade that reduces my air conditioning bill and others create recreation opportunities for my kids in the form of treehouses or swings attached to the trees. Still other trees boost my property values just by being beautiful. If you want ideas about using your trees for fun, form and function, please explore this blog.