V-Rig rocks!

Working on a mixed species alley along a road here in Basel on the way out to Alschwil consisting of Sopphora japonica, Cladastris lutea and  Robinia pseudoaccacia. 

Especially the Sopphoras are really quite big trees – well, not exactly monsters, height-wise, maybe 22m, but just ridiculously wide with limbs taking off in the direction of the horizon. Looking at some of the structures you can’t help but think that trees have a sense of humor (ok, dreadful piece of anthropomorphizing there, I realise!) or are daring each other to grow further and further out.

Be that as it may…

Frankly, on jobs like this I am just so grateful for having the V-Rig technique in my mental tool box. In my opinion this is the most functional way of working with two anchor points for a number of reasons:

  • low friction
  • load is equalized between the two anchor points
  • mechanical advantage when returning up the limb
  • low lateral forces on the anchor points (unless you are level with and suspended between them)

This technique is known by a number of names, like the M-Rig, as some credit it to Mark Chisholm or the V-Rig, makes more sense to me, as that describes the line of the rope between the two anchor points. The first time I saw this technique demonstrated was by John Hartil in 2002 or thereabouts. Sometimes it’s hard to put a specific name to a technique, the truth being that it’s shown by one person and someone else adopts it, takes it and evolves it further. I am, however a great believer in crediting ideas, as it puts them in a context, it’s not just something that popped up out of the ether, all nicely configured, but rather something that evolved over time with names and stories attached to it.

There came a moment on the job this morning, where I found myself almost horizontal to the two anchor points, waaaaay out in the canopy– over the road – using my lanyard as an extra tie in point. Using one point this would have been a nigh impossible point to reach. Apart from spreading the load to two anchor points, I also find it helpful to be able to balance between two anchor points, as this is inherently more stable than just the one and returning off a long flat limb like this is just so much easier with the mechanical advantage integrated into the system.

V-Rig permitting easy movement back and forth, here to install a bracing system

Key to using this technique (or any technique, come to that), is to have the gear handy. If it’s a major hassle to organise it all, you won’t do it, and believe me, that’s me speaking from experience. On trees like this I will have a compact, adjustable thimble saver stowed on my harness, then all I have to do is to lanyard in, release the swivel on the rope bridge that I have secured to one side with a short sling with a Revolver karabiner on it, install the saver, sling through top hole of the Hitch Climber pulley, catch the high line with the Revolver, attach the whole combo onto the swivel and I’m all set to go. I’m not saying, do it like this, but suggesting that you develop a sequence in which you install gear and rig techniques and they will automatically get easier to use and therefor the decision to employ them so also becomes easier.

For trees like this, I would be stuck without having been introduced to the V-Rig all those years ago, so thanks to John, Mark and whoever else thought this one up. And spread the word, it certainly beats the old karabiner in a sling redirect technique hands down, that much is for sure!