Hooked on Climbing
It’s fairly unusual for 7 experienced arborists to meet up in a Pub car park, on a Saturday morning, with all their climbing gear, 2 photographers and expecting the imminent arrival of some guys and their Camera drone.
So what was all the fuss about?
We were to be lucky enough to have a ‘play’ on the new DMM Captain Throwing Hook.
You are probably thinking (as was I) that throw hooks are just for insane traverses, probably in the upper canopy of a rainforest somewhere and not a bit of kit that you would find a use for here.
Well…. I was wrong too.!
Some professional Arbs already use hooks of this sort for their day to day canopy access and until now the choice was usually the Epple, Züfle or something homemade. With DMM Captain Throwing Hook have really added a well conceived and engineered choice to this selection.
So how is it awesome?!
Whatever your normal tree climbing method (srt, ddrt, etc) you will most likely need to get across to the upper part of a different stem/branch from your initial tie in point. Or walk out on a lateral branch, get from that branch to an adjacent one or just secure your position. Typically you might do this by slinging your lanyard at it or going down and coming back up the target branch or in from one lateral and out to the next etc. All of which need you to get hold of the thrown rope end and secure it back to your harness or tie it off lower down the stem to SRT up. Yada yada
So imagine instead just throwing the hook and there it is… you are anchored. No rope end to try to get with a snapped off stick as it hangs out of reach or stuck in some Ivy.!
Just tie on a hitch climber set up and help yourself up with a foot ascender.
You won’t truly appreciate it until you use one, but I would hope that you can see that sometimes, and more frequently, you would grab it off your harness and use it where before you’d have had more of a challenge on your hands to get to where you want to be.
Why is the ‘Captain’ so special?
It has been well thought out; As the pivoting shackle, at its base, reaches the branch top it allows the hook to swivel onto its side. The approx 405g (14.9oz) mostly Aluminium hook has additional weight in its ‘nose’ that then causes it to rotate down and capture the branch. To release it simply flick the rope back over the anchor branch to make the hook drop below, then a quick jerk type pull and it slingshots around, over and back from the branch. The shackle will undo (tools required) to allow fitting of spliced eyes or QuickDraw type slings. I found that a carabiner clipped directly into the shackle can end up forced against the tree below the anchor fork approaching from underneath, so a short sling puts your carabiner more out of harms way and still allows easy retrieval.
You can watch a video of our rec climb with DMM Captain Throwing Hook here.
So how is it set up?
For me I would most likely carry it into trees, in which I thought it would be handy, by just clipping it on my harness. It has a useful hole in the top for a small carabiner like the DMM XSRE to prevent it hooking every branch you pass. Alternatively you can have it preset with rope and hitch and carry it in a dedicated pouch.
If you go with leaving it ‘as it comes’ then you can pull up your rope tail and connect it or take a bight of rope and clip it on there… running a mid-line ddrt set up with an Alpine Butterfly.
Either way running a hitch climber type set up works well and allows for lowering yourself back in on it (unlike ascenders) For a single line anchor you may want to add a Ropewrench or DMM Ring and Revolver for an improvised version of Ropewrench, where the hook anchor line will take a lot of your weight. The hitch will lock up otherwise with a heavy load on it and it is difficult to descend on a single static rope.
Overall I do rate this as a useful addition to your kit and despite my limited use of similar application throw hooks, I would prefer to own the DMM one.