Do I have to be strong to climb trees?
There are several systems used these days to climb trees and there is no requirement to be built like a brick privy. We do taster days and introductory sessions by arrangement so you can have a play in a tree before you book for a course so that you have an idea how physical it can be.
I’m not sure I’ll like climbing can I have a go first?
We advise candidates to come and have a go before they book on a course as it is not for everyone and it is best to try a little bit before you book. So, feel free to get in touch and arrange an introductory session.
I want to be an arborist, what tickets do I need?
There are a lot of tickets in the industry so it’s not easy to say. However, there are a lot of companies out there who will give you an extremely long list that would cost a lot of money. You need to consider that your ability and knowledge should grow as a tree does slowly and surely.
To get you going and working then chainsaw maintenance and cross cutting 20-03 (formally CS30) and felling and processing trees up to 380mm 20-04 (formally CS31) and safe use of manually fed woodchipper, these will get you started and into the industry. You can then progress onto the climbing units such as tree climbing and rescue 20-13 (formally CS38), this steady building of certificates will give you an idea about the industry. However, it is not just about the short course qualifications, it is advisable to book on an arboricultural course such as the RFS, be it online or at a local college, to learn about the science behind the trees.
Can I use lock jacks or spider jacks on the course?
There is nothing to stop you using them but courses are normally run using the basic friction devices as not everyone can afford these more expensive pieces of equipment. Having a standard system during the training makes the rescue situations easier to understand, however if you are going to use lock jacks and spider jacks it is extremely important everyone in your team understands how to use them.
What are the main knots I’ll need to know?
The main knots used throughout the training course with Lowe Maintenance are:
- Blake’s hitch
- Lark’s foot
- Stop knot
How can I practise my knots before the course?
There are several ways for you to practise the knots before the course, these include:
- Tree climber’s companion book
- Knots 3D app
Will I be using a chainsaw on the tree climbing course?
There is no requirement to use a chainsaw in a tree during the climbing course, that however does come later in the aerial cutting of trees with a chainsaw using free fall techniques 21-08 (formally CS39), that’s when you’ve passed the tree climbing and rescue 20-13 (formally CS38).
Can women climb trees too?
There are several very good female tree climbers; women often have a very good muscle to body weight ratio and are methodical in their work so there is no reason why not. Women currently climbing in the industry include: Boel Hammarstrand, Rachel Smith, Eva-Maria Mauz and Annalize Wright to name just a few.
How do I recognise if a tree is occupied?
There are a number of leaflets about this, one is provided by the Bat Conservation Trust ‘How are trees important to bats’ and if you look at their website http://www.bats.org.uk you will be able to download lots of good information. You could have a tree survey done if you are worried.
What harness should I choose?
It is hard to describe the best harness as every person is built differently and really you need to try before you buy. This is easier said than done but if you ask around you may get some good answers. A very important point to note, is once you have bought your harness you must fit it correctly, there are lots of straps and buckles that need fitting specifically to you. We have several different harnesses for people to use on Lowe Maintenance’ tree climbing courses. You can see which feels better for you, this will help you to make an informed decision.
Can I climb a tree that has bats in it?
This is not good practice but it is also not that easy to spot an occupied tree.
If you know it to be occupied, then the answer is no as you may disturb the roost and that can be a bit expensive in the form of court actions and possibly your professional reputation.
What is the difference between 2 and 3 way karabiners?
A double action karabiner means it has two motions to close the gate and make it secure, these are easily opened and have been known to open due to rubbing on the trees and branches. This is why they should not be used as part of the life anchor points in the climbing system. The triple action has three motions to close the gate. The triple action is the only karabiner to be used as part of the life anchor point as it is harder to open accidentally.
Do I need to wear chainsaw PPE when on the climbing course?
No, you only need to wear a pair of work trousers and stout work boots with ankle support. You can if you want to or if the weather is a bit cold but there is no chainsaw use so therefore no need for cutting pants.
Do I need another qualified tree climber on site when working?
It is advisable that you have another climber on site in case something goes wrong. It takes time for the emergency services to respond, that second climber can get to you quicker and shorten the time it takes to get proper help.
What is the smallest branch size I can climb on?
The branch size depends on the characteristics of the tree and its condition. The branch must be strong enough to take lateral forces as well as supporting the climber. On the tree climbing course you shouldn’t suspend yourself from branches less than 4” in diameter.
Do I wear spikes when climbing trees?
There is no requirement to use spikes during climbing unless the tree is being dismantled or there is a need to carry out a rescue. If you wear spikes on a tree when not needed, you are introducing diseases and weakness into the tree. If it was a lime tree wherever you put your spike a shoot would emerge in time and cause future problems for the tree.
What is SRT?
SRT is Single Rope Techniques, this is a method of accessing and working a tree using mechanical aids to climb. It can make climbing a lot easier but requires a good understanding of rope systems and equipment.
Is there anything I could read in preparation for the tree climbing course?
There are several things you could read, two of the best are The Tree Climber’s Companion and The Arboricultural Association’s A Guide to Good Climbing Practice
Do I need to get my equipment inspected?
Personal tree climbing equipment is supposed to comply with the Lifting Equipment and Lifting Operations 1998 and should be inspected on a 6-monthly basis by an independent person. This period cannot be extended but may be shortened due to the working environment or specific requirements of the site you are working on.
Can it be too windy to climb?
That is up to you and your confidence levels. If there is a problem, you will have to explain to the insurance company why you were up a tree on a particularly windy day with a chainsaw.
Do I need to know different tree species?
It is advisable for your personal growth to learn more about trees and their characteristics, especially with the number of pests and diseases that are about these days and we need to improve our bio security in general.
Can I use my forestry helmet with a chin strap?
If you are working on the ground there is no problem using a forestry helmet with a chin strap but in the air it is not allowed, you must wear a climbing helmet.
How do I choose a climbing rope?
Ropes are like harnesses; choice is down to personal feel. The average rope is 10mm to 13mm diameter although 12mm to 13mm is more commonly used as they are easier to grip and less chance of hand strain. The smaller diameter ropes are used mainly with mechanical aids and, depending on the item you use, as a friction component. The manufacturer may state a rope diameter, which you should follow for your own safety.
Can I climb in the rain?
Yes, there is no reason why not. The tree may be a bit more slippery and you may have to adapt the climb to the conditions but there is no reason why you can’t.
What kit do I need?
Listed in the Arboricultural Associations Guide to Climbing Practice is the equipment required. The number of pieces is down to you and your budget.
Be careful as it is easy to buy too much and buy lots of shiny bling that you may never use. If you attend a course with Lowe Maintenance, you will know what to buy by the end of the course as you’ll have used the kit during the course.
How high do I have to climb?
It depends on the tree and the distance between the branches, there is no easy answer, ideally you need to get as high as you can so that you can carry out effective branch walking.
Do I need a first aid qualification for rescue?
It is highly recommended that anyone working with a chainsaw should have some level of first aid training due to the increased potential for an accident.
How often should I practise aerial rescue?
It is advised by HSE that you practise at least once a month. If you require an aerial rescue refresher give us a call to arrange a suitable date.
Can I do CS38 and CS39 together?
You can do them both together but if you fail the CS38 assessment you cannot take the CS39, so it can get rather expensive. It is far less stressful for the candidate to do them as individual units and that way they get plenty of practice it is also less stressful.
Do I need to do refreshers?
You are advised by HSE to have a refresher every 5 years, this however depends on the company you work for, as some have different regulations for refreshers such as National Trust which is every 3 years.
Do I have to do the full five days?
If you have never been in the air before it is advisable to take the full course and allow yourself plenty of time to get as much practice as possible, ready for the assessment. However, there are no guaranteed passes. If you have been climbing for a while, then the course can be modified to meet your needs and possibly completed over fewer days of training.