Fun in the sun – and a mishap

We removed a Sycamore last week. Nothing huge, yet it presented some interesting rigging challenges due to the length of some of the limbs and the targets below. We ended up balancing and/ or winching a number of picks, as well as moving anchor points around and using multiple rigging anchor points, allowing us to load them in compression, something I like to do when diameters are not huge.

Those first climbs after winter when the sun starts to regain some warmth have a magical quality, not being bundled up in thermals makes them feel effortless and easy – this was one such instance. Roll on spring!

I enjoy balancing loads, as it is an activity which gives you a very immediate feedback as to whether you got it right or not, no shades of grey there. Enough of those in other instances!

Did I mention some of the limbs were quite leggy? 😊

I managed to make a real rookie mistake at the start of the day whilst removing one of the lower limbs. As there was a clear drop zone below, I simply dropped the lower two limbs in a couple of sections. When I put in a face and made the back cut in the last of these pieces, which was maybe four meters long with a diameter of 40cm, I missed the fact that it was banana-shaped, with the far end facing downwards – so when this hit the ground the butt pushed back and tonked me on the arm – hard. In the first moment I thought the arm was broken, all numb and tingly, but luckily it merely turned out to be thoroughly bruised.

This is an issue I would normally be really wary of, exerting considerable caution when dropping pieces that are longer than my distance from the ground, for exactly this reason. Yet in this instance it somehow slipped below my radar, maybe due to the unusual shape or my being focused on the more complex picks to come? Who knows. Just goes to show once again how the fact of being aware of an issue is not a sure-fire protection against stuffing up regardless – and that no one is above making mistakes. I was lucky that I had free space to swing back into and that the section in question was not larger.

This might hurt a bit…

Despite this slight mishap, the rest of the day really smoothly, we had a lot of fun – and I enjoyed the sunshine, to boot.

Crane work

Cracking video by Vito Cordasco documenting a crane removal we did a couple of weeks ago.

It shows the removal of a really large beech tree, sadly one stem of which had severe die-back over a period of a number of years, as well as the base being absolutely full of fungus. The sum of these defects consequently lead to the decision to remove it. Due to restricted access and the amount of wood to be removed we chose the crane removal option, with thirty seven picks this was a long day – and we removed four skip-loads of wood! Conditions on the day were beautiful, chilly but clear, allowing for great drone footage.

I thought the sequences showing balanced loads were especially interesting – this was indeed the challenge for this removal: very long pieces with not a lot of space to deposit them into. The individual picks were not very heavy, around one tonne, but larger pieces simply would not have made sense from a handling point of view. Also, the crane, a Liebherr MK80 could take around 1.9 tonnes at the furthest point out at 51 meters, so it did not make sense to go overboard on size.

The pic below gives you an impression of just how tight we were for space… the processing zone being just above the crane. All the loads were lifted between the two buildings. The space below the crane was not used as this had to remain open for vehicle to get in and out and also due to street light electricity cables.

A further interesting sequence is the one where Vito did a time lapse sequence of the space we were depositing the limbs into. I was struck by how this space was constantly being cleared, right down to being raked and swept between picks. This makes sense, in all likelihood the highest risk on a site like this is that someone slips or trips while handling a load during tidy-up.

A big thank you goes out to all involved in this project: Serge, obviously, for his diligent organisation of all the aspects of the job, the crew from Team Vertical, Christian and Patrick from Welti Furrer – and of course Vito for the great footage and editing the video.

Coming up #1

Coming up in the next couple of weeks is the Arborfest Expo from 22 to 24 March in Asheville, NC, hosted by Sherrill Tree. Chris and I will be there, kicking around the DMM and Teufelberger booths, as well as presenting on a number of topics.

Should you live in that general area and happen to be at a loose end that weekend, why not join us, we are always keen to chat about gear, as well as getting your feedback.

Shock! Horror!

Isn’t it shocking how something the most innocuous, innocent every-day objects can go bad and wreak havoc? Take retrieval cones, for instance. Often used, seldom spared much thought, but what if they developed a hive mind and decided to have a crack at world domination?!

Enter Retrievalconezilla!

No, no need to worry. Just idly fiddling around with some retrieval cones during lunch break. Apart from that, it sometimes seems to me that the most scary monsters of them all are us humans beings!



Last week I was invited to speak at RAW, the Rochester Arborist Workshop in Minnesota, an event that has been held annually for the past seventeen years. I was impressed by the dedication with which the crew surrounding Jay Maier pulled this event off. What I especially enjoyed was observing how their interaction seemed to be based upon mutual respect and kindness, rather than people puffing themselves up. This felt like a breath of fresh air in a world where the exterior trimmings seem to count for so much.

Minnesota was really quite chilly. Looking forwards to arriving home to spring!

One highlight on this trip was having the opportunity to spend some time with Anthony Ambrose, who works at the University of Berkley, doing research, amongst other things, on Sequoiadendron giganteum and Sequoia sempervirens. I found the insights he has gained over the years thanks to his research fascinating, demonstrating how these giants are on the one hand highly resilient towards certain stressors, yet at the same time also so very fragile when subjected to other stresses.

Anthony was using illustrations by Rob van der Pelt during his presentations, which portray these incredible structures in intricate detail with a high degree of artistic skill…

One thing that really struck me, listening to Anthony and looking at Rob’s illustrations, is how sanitised we require our tree populations to be – this also brought to mind the trees in Green-Wood cemetery. In a sense we demand of the beings and objects around us the same kind of flawlessness that we expect of ourselves. Not too fat, not too thin, not too tall, not to short, no blemishes, all conforming to a measure of beauty which is based solely upon symmetry, perfection and freedom from defects. Naturally, when applying this metric, any kind of damage will be viewed per se as negative.

I am convinced we lose many trees to this blinkered view of where the true value and beauty of trees lies. It is essential that we recognise the beauty in damage and start to realise that flawlessness may only be one means of assessing value. After all, these arboreal giants have survived many thousands of years, resulting not only in damage, but also in beautify – besides from being the back-bone of a highly diverse eco-system and being highly efficient at what they do!

You couldn’t make it up

On a crane removal yesterday.

How does stuff like this even happen?

My line got stuck up at the hook, upon closer inspection it transpired that the retrieval cone had tied a knot whilst I was repositioning on the tree. Huh. I put it down to retrieval cone humour.

That was quite a job! Very large beech tree, half died back with extensive fungal activity in the base, it took 37 picks to remove, finished up at 7pm.

I enjoy this kind of work, as it brings together technical rigging, team work and communication in a situation where you have to have a very keen sense of spatial awareness.

Making connections

Treemagineers Ltd is delighted to announce the beginning of a strategic alliance with North American Training Solutions (NATS).

NATS is a leader in the provision of safety and training solutions to the arboriculture, utility, rescue and environment sectors across North America.Β  Together, Treemagineers and NATS will cooperate with existing partners Teufelberger, DMM and Papertrail to continue to develop knowledge, competency training programmes, solutions and equipment to improve safety and efficiency within arboriculture and beyond.

Yet another event to attend?

I finally got round to re-doing the vertical-connect website. Rather chuffed with how it turned out, as this was a first for me.

Despite the title of this blog post, this is actually not simply yet another event to attend. Vertical-connect is special in number of aspects: there is the spectacular alpine location, the dynamic fusion of different disciplines in verticality, the highly competent audience, the wide range of topics and presentation formats to name but a few.

Should you not have anything planned for the end of August, why not swing by and have a look for yourself – consider yourself warmly invited. This event is certainly one of my annual highlights…

Oh, and by the way, this is a chicken-friendly event. So bring your hen or rooster by all means.

More to wonder about

Whilst we are on the theme of wondering… have YOU ever wondered where throwbags come from?

I bet you thought they came out of some workshop or factory? Well, you thought WRONG! Get your daily dose of amazing facts from the treemagineers’ blog, you can thank me later for widening your horizon… today we exclusively reveal the true source of throwbags.