By Michael Tain
As discussed in the first part of this article, throwline, when used effectively and efficiently, assists immensely in completing tree jobs quickly (see Dec. 2007 Arbor Age, page 14). The basic principles of storage and use covered in that article will help make the use of throwline easier and less frustrating, but to truly reap the benefits and fully take advantage of the capabilities of throwline, some basic manipulation techniques are invaluable. Throwline manipulation refers to the various methods and techniques that may be used to acquire the desired tie-in point (TIP) even if the throw itself was not as accurate as desired. As with many climbing arborist tools and techniques, there are a wide variety of manipulation methods for throwline, all of them suited to different situations or scenarios. The three fairly basic and simple methods discussed here are an excellent introduction to throwline manipulation, and can assist greatly in obtaining the desired TIP — even after an errant throw.
* Two string technique: This technique is useful in a wide variety of situations, and is probably one that — after having been learned, developed and refined — will be employed successfully on a regular basis. As implied by the name, a second string or throwline, along with a second throw weight to overcome the additional friction of the second string, are used to maneuver and manipulate the throwline into the desired TIP. With this technique, the user simply needs to be able to throw high into the canopy above the desired TIP; then, having attached the second throwline and throw weight to the first, lift the second string and weight into the tree, and use the second string to maneuver itself into the desired TIP. Care should be taken to use a secure attachment knot properly backed up to tie the two throw weights together, as the movement of the rings during maneuver can cause some hitches to open and release. The attachment strap on the bottom of some throw bags may also be used to attach the second string and weight. The second string can be used to maneuver the throw weights laterally, thus allowing the user to “swing” the throwline around the trunk or leader if necessary. An additional advantage of this technique is that even after the desired TIP has a throwline set in it, the user still has the original line high in the tree and can set additional throwlines with it if necessary using the same two string technique.
* Two weight technique: The two weight technique is probably one of the simplest throwline manipulation methods, but one that involves the risk of getting a throwline or throw weight stuck. The bags on either end of the throwline are simply used to maneuver it vertically or horizontally to the TIP. Swings may be generated by creating a pendulum motion up in the tree, or even by lowering the throw weight and giving it a push from the ground in the desired direction, then attempting to maintain the swing as it is lifted up into the canopy. If the throw is above the desired TIP, users may be able to pull the throw weight up and over, dropping it into the TIP, or, alternatively, if the throw is below, flipping the bag up and over the branch into a higher one. This technique, once practiced, can be quite useful and efficient, but the risk of the throw weight and line becoming stuck due to quick and sudden movements is much greater than with other techniques, so it is best used judiciously with a measure of care and caution.
* Jump stick/weight: This technique is quite useful to move the throwline along a branch or leader in the horizontal plane, moving it past stubs and small branches into the greater strength and security of the branch union with the trunk. If the climbing line has already been installed, the user can fairly easily throw bights up to move the line, or use a flip stick to maneuver it. Obviously, the smaller diameter and lighter weight throwline does not respond well to such methods, thus the use of a jump stick or throw weight. The throw bag or a small (5 to 8 inches in length) stick is attached to the throwline, usually midline, allowing the user to have both ends of the throwline in his or her hands. If using a stick, attach the throwline at both ends of the stick to keep it fairly straight. The throw weight or stick is then pulled up to the branch the line is over, and, while moving in the desired direction along the branch, the climber pulls the bag or stick rapidly back and forth across the top of the branch, causing it to jump and hop over obstacles as it moves along, until reaching the desired tie-in point.
These three techniques allow users, in a sense, “to make something out of nothing,” by allowing them to quickly and efficiently obtain a good TIP even when their throw may not have been very accurate. This ability, coupled with the basic principles of throwline storage and use, can help make a frustrating and often neglected tool become a valuable component of every climbing arborist’s skill set.
Michael “House” Tain is a contract climber, splicer, educator and writer currently located in Lancaster, Ky. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org