More than one way to skin a cat


Very kindly, de Gourét Litchfield brought along a Kenyon Prusik Lift to Sweriklaniec for me.

This goes back to a chat we had at an event in Lund (SWE) last year, when I was discussing the Historical Development of Tree Climbing Techniques presentation with a group of students and arborists, amongst whom was also de Gourét. Obviously, when talking about how these ideas and techniques were spread in Europe, you cannot not mention Svensk Trädvård, de Gourét’s company, who was one of the first dealers specializing in tree climbing equipment. There were a couple of others, Christian Nellen in Munich, Honey Brothers in Guilford or High Tree Tech in a camper van ;-), but the concepts being presented in the Svensk Trädvård catalogues were well ahead of their time and some still hold true today.

For me, in the mid nineties, when information was spread extremely thin and techniques were a jealously guarded secret that essentially gave a company a competitive edge over others, all of a sudden gaining access to a larger world of technical possibilities and equipment was a revelation. The channels for distributing this information at that point in time were very much the dealers, the obvious benchmark being Toby Sherrill’s catalogue, but also, as I mentioned above, the Svensk Trädvård or High Tree Tech publications were spreading the new techniques.

Obviously this was not the same for everyone everywhere, in the course of the nineties networks were starting to emerge, but still, by and large people were still working in groups quite isolated from each other. Certainly the way is was for me at that point in time.

Anyway, I digress… so I got one of Jack Kenyon’s Prusik Lifts, which is a true historical artifact in our small arboricultural world: Jack, a former, long-standing instructor at the Merrist Wood college made this up for a student who had sustained a chainsaw injury and needed to be able to advance his hitch one-handed… et voilà, the first prusik lift, with a karabiner attaching to the bottom ring , with the hitch sitting between to two open eyes. As with so many solutions in our industry, this is superficially so simple and intuitive, yet someone had to come up with it! This one can be traced back to a spark of inspiration on Jack’s part.

It struck me, as I was looking at the Prusik Lift sitting on my desk next to a Hitch Climber pulley, how right there are forty years of evolution of arborist work positioning techniques condensed into two devices –  both fulfill the same role,  yet there are many permutations and variations in between these two solutions. All of them are part of a progression striving towards greater efficiency , versatility or ergonomic gains. The most exciting part is the realization that we have all been part of this – and will continue to be so in the future.

P.S. No cats were harmed to write this blogpost.