Split Maple Tree

Eric called and said that his neighbor had a company come out and look at a few trees and while they were there he asked them to take a look at a tree he wanted taken down.  The company told him he needed to call another company that has a bucket truck.  

Eric’s wife must have talked with a girlfriend and the girl friend had used me before and said they should see what I think.  So they gave me a call.

One of the most important aspects of tree work is being able to assess the risk of the situation.  During a wind storm the Maple tree had split two feet down the center, right where the spurs go in different directions.  There was four or five main spurs growing out of the trunk.  This was at about 20′.

The spurs were 40′ or so, and if the one toward the house broke off it could do a little damage to the house.  I quoted Eric $150 and he happily gave the go ahead.

I climbed and anchored in right above the split, on a spur that was the least affected by the problem.  I used a 20′ foot chain and wrapped it around the problem area of the tree.  I also attached my lowering rope with several wraps around the split area.

A lot of times, if not most of the time, things go different once you are in the tree.  I had thought that I would anchor off the back spur but it wasn’t very high and didn’t give me the leverage I wanted to climb up the spur to be removed.  There was another spur going straight up and looked like it was not part of the problem area.  You try to guess about what will happen if things go bad.  In this case the branch that I was climbing was the most likely to split off the trunk with the extra weight from climbing on it.  

I decided to go as high as possible in the straight spur and set my repelling rope.  That way if the branch I was climbing broke out from under me I would swing over.  It would be a slam but better than a drop on the branch I needed to climb.  

The challenge with this application is that I can not be tied-in to the problem branch.  If my flipline is on and that branch gives way the pressure caused on my clip will keep me from undoing it, and besides the fall is going to happen so fast that I’ll be on the ground before I know what’s happening.  So this means I have to free climb the branch.  This branch went up 40′.  It was at a gradual angle which made it tougher to deal with.  I fired up the chainsaw and took off a few branches and kept climbing higher. I needed to get high enough that when the top piece came off it didn’t slam the house.  The branch was in the six-inch range when I got high enough to go for it.  Still not a simple drop at this point.  The angle of the spur kept the majority of my weight from pushing hard on the split area. If I went any higher it would really start to put leverage on the split.  The challenges were a shed that was in reach and the house which was still in reach.  There was a good gap between the shed and the house but the branch couldn’t go off target much.  

Final challenge.  Because I was free climbing up the branch I didn’t have my flipline to set my balance to let go with my hands and make the cut.  I had to have my hands free.  I have a short rope on my saddle for a variety of uses.  I put it around the branch and made a slip knot, hoping that if the branch broke out I could pull the tail and pop the line causing me to swing over to the branch I was repelling off of.  At the point I needed to cut the spur it divided into two branches.  I made the face cut in the bottom one and finished with the back cut. Down to ground it went.  The second branch came off the same way.  From that point I went all the way to the start of the spur, switched to a bigger saw and finished the job.

Eric was glad to see me safely down the tree and expressed his appreciation with an extra $50 for the effort.  His wife even made me an awesome tuna sandwich with chips and a big bag of chocolate fudge.


About timbento

I believe that, " ...all things work together for the good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His Purpose." Romans 8:28
This entry was posted in Close Calls. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.