Give that candidate some points!

Just preparing the stuff I need for scrutinising at next week’s arborist exam.

With 36 candidates, testing them for knowledge of equipment and work safety, one and a half hours per candidate, it is going to be quite a week. Then it is straight on up into the mountains to get ready for vertical-connect, so this is quite an epic packing session, as you can imagine.

I was just thinking about past exams before and about funny work-around answers. One of my all-time favourites has to be the candidate who answered the question What means do you have to document hazards and risks? with a very witty Pen and paper. I was prepared for all kinds of answers, VTA, risk assessments, you name it – but this was not one of the answers I had anticipated. But of course, technically, it is correct.

I hope I gave the chap some points.

Sometimes, when you don’t know the answer, getting creative – whilst it may not be the solution – may at least be entertaining.

Some things new

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.

Sometimes you cannot help but wonder #2

When it comes to making women feel welcome and included, I would suggest that the tree care industry has a problem. Bearing in mind that roughly 50% of humanity is female, there is a clear under-represantation of women in tree care.

The reasons for this are manifold, as was demonstrated at this year’s Climbers Forum in Augsburg. The discussion there was intriguing, ambiguous and there was a wide range of views expressed when it came to what exactly reasons are, whether there is a problem at all – and if so how to mitigate it.

One thing that really gets me going is inappropriately used imagery. In view of the imbalance I strongly object to a sex sells-pitch to promote brands or gear. Do not get me wrong, I have no issue whatsoever of images showing women behaving in a professional manner, on the contrary, I think this can send a very powerful, positive message.

However, the image above really had me scratching my head.

C’mon, Stihl, you can do better, surely?

I mean, what is even the narrative here? Is the lady going to ride off into the sunset, wielding the MS661 in one hand and the axe in the other in gay abandon? I don’t get it, certainly not selling me on their product.

For the future I would really wish for this industry that we manage to portray the arborist profession in a inclusive fashion – and will be able to leave this kind of cheap marketing behind us on a along with all other biases and stereotypes.