At this year’s International Tree Climbing Competition and the trade show of the International Society of Arboriculture’s conference in Columbus, Ohio a number of new products whose development treemagineers were involved in were shown for the first time. This is obviously a very exciting moment, as oftentimes there will be a number of years worth of work invested before the launch, without being able to discuss the concepts or climb the tools in public. So this is moment you get to gauge people’s response to what you are showing, giving you a first inkling whether it is going to fly, whether they buy into the concept behind the product.
Put it this way: we were very busy on the DMM/ Teufelberger booth on both Saturday and Sunday, with lots of people stopping by to check out what the buzz was about.
What is the buzz about?
The Hitch Climber Eccentric was an opportunity to revisit one of the first products we worked on with DMM. The obvious difference is that the overall design of the pulley is no longer symmetrical. The three holes are staggered, the spindle is offset from the centre of the pulley. This, in combination with the reworked fairleading surfaces of the pulley lead to a significant improvement of over-all efficiency. It is not only that the line runs fair into the bottom of pulley, but also the karabiner side of the rope channel has been reworked, meaning that the line builds minimal friction in all directions when running through the pulley. Also, the top end of the pulley has been extended upwards. This point is the pushing surface, meaning that the pulley is in contact with the coils of the hitch sooner, the hitch collapses less and is not only pushed earlier, but also more efficiently.
In field validation I found this to make the friction hitch behave in a more responsive and reliable fashion, grabbing better and sooner. The improved fairleading surfaces also made the performance of the Hitch Climber feel slick and fluid.
I am really thankful to the time, ingenuity and effort Elliot and Chris have invested into the Eccentric, I have to admit that I was initially a bit nervous about reworking the plucky little Hitch Climber, as you cannot help but love the simplicity and intuitiveness of the original design, but this update integrates flawlessly into my climbing system, accommodating all the techniques I would usually use while work positioning in the canopy, so they have really come up with the goods!
Another other tool we presented was the Transformer, a spreader bar with an integrated rotation-limiting swivel which can be added to the rope bridge of you climbing harness. The concept of spreader bars has of course been around for years, all the way back to the old spreader snaps with a central ring to attach the climbing system to (see below).
The Transformer iteration (see image right at the top of this post) of that design however represents a significant evolution of the original concept. What is the benefit, you ask? Well, due to the load being spread much wider, the load on your hips is significantly decreased, almost as though you were climbing off your front D-Rings. This represents a tangible ergonomic gain. Further, the friction you build is less than a ring, but more than a pulley, for my taste hitting a sweet spot between the two. On top of that, there is the rotation-limiting swivel, which offers three positions: free spinning, locked and 220° of rotation. When climbing, I tend to have it in the lock position until I am in a situation or using a technique where twist starts to build on the rope bridge. Then it is as easy as turning the knurled barrel on the side of the swivel in to the free spinning position. Especially when using a V-Rig I find that a swivel is really helpful, yet for normal work-positioning I find it a bit annoying, as lines can twist and also the swivels have clearly defined wear points, unlike rings which can rotate freely.
I therefore absolutely love now having the option of the best of both worlds right there on my rope bridge! Good stuff. Also, of course, the Transformer also means that you no longer need to replace your swivel due to it being worn by the rope bridge.
Looks heavy, you say? I have my thoughts on that, more in the next post or so.
Oh, and the launch of the treeMOTION evo? More about that also to follow.