Win-tree wonderland climb in Jan '09...

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15 years 4 months ago #133047 by Trebuchet
Win-tree wonderland climb in Jan '09... was created by Trebuchet
This afternoon, I enjoyed a wonderful walk through a wintery wonderland in a northern NJ State Park. New snowfall brought the total on the forest floor to about 5" of powdery snow. Wind was calm, with an occasional momentary puff, announcing a slow-moving storm approaching from the West. I had a sense that it was going to be a full and rich experience. As soon as I started to trudge, I heard the ak,ka,ka,ka,ka,ka,ka,ka,kaahhw of the Pileated Woodpecker, perhaps commenting about my entry to the their area. Picture courtesy of Cornell.edu:
http://content.ornith.cornell.edu/UEWebApp/images/WAG_072202_00364Z_S.jpg\"

Then, I watched its mate hammer away at an old tulip poplar. I stood transfixed for a time, regretting that the top of the older tree was obviously in advanced stages of attack by bugs, but pleased that the bird (a big as a small duck!) had the good fortune of enjoying a necessary winter meal. Well, bon appetite, see-ya later Pileat-er. :laugh:

It is a wonderful, old forest. There were folks about one-half mile out on the lake, ice-fishing. My intention this day was to reel me up to the canopy of an incredible, 14' circumference Red Oak, and to pretend I was something of a storm chaser. \"Storm chaser\", you wonder?! Yup, because the tree is that one I've given the name, \"Cyclone\". I hope some of the pictures will make clear why the name was chosen. \"Cyclone\" is dominant on a small plateau area on the hillside above the lake. It appears to be lifting a half dozen conifers (hemlocks?), as it grows outward and upward through them, some 90' AGL.

I unfurled a plastic tarp, flaked out plenty of Target Line, stood off the tarp, and began my tree entry tosses. On my third try my 10oz. throw bag sailed over an enormous branch at about 55'. Cold winter air may reduce surgical tube efficiency, but I was...well, lucky. ;)

Well, this day, time was limited and a storm was forecast...

I hauled my climbing line over the branch by attaching the Target line to the spliced eye on my NE Firefly. Installing the rope brought down shovels-full of snow. Once the line was in hand, I passed the other end through the splice, left the Target line in place for retrieval, and cinched the Firefly up tight. I chose to climb SRT, using Petzl Basic and PMI footloop for upper ascender. I supplemented that with a 9mm RIT (Kevlar over polyester) cowstail, spliced on both ends, connecting the Basic to my ventral D. I used my Petzl Croll chest ascender and single-footlocked (SFL) the climbing line.

I left my new Pantin home. After all, we're talkin' ankle-deep snow. :ohmy: Anyway, SFL method worked great.

I wore appropriately layered clothing, finished with canvas duck bib overalls. All that was like a full-body harness, so I was not disappointed with performance by my CMI Tactical Infinity harness, cinched over the bibs. Like I said, time was limited. I was storm chasing...or was the storm chasing me..?

I realize that nature was very patient with me. I climbed without hurrying up the single pitch. I heard another species of bird I couldn't identify. I took pictures from my cell phone. It got too cold to zoom. I need to get that camera I keep talking about...

Anyway, once at my TIP, I was no less enthralled with \"Cyclone\". It is a truly enormous (for NW NJ) tree that has a truly dramatic form. A sense of awe with this tree is easily found. I put my cell phone inside my jacket. It eventually warmed up. Unlike the phone, I was truly \"warm as toast\". Ascending was great. The vistas were awesome. The stark contrast of the winter quietude and the Pileated's calls was somehow comforting. Perhaps, I was no interruption to them at all. I hope not.

So, then it came to pass that I had to descend. Here's how it went: I added a YC Phoenix split tail, B53'd to the Firefly, below the Basic. I raised the Basic in the rope space reserved below the TIP, so I could weight the B53. I removed and stowed the Basic+footloop+cowstail. I rigged the Firefly through my aluminum Rescue 8, 'biner-ed to my Ventral D, left of the Croll. I left-SFL'd to take weight off the Croll. I raised/weighted/snugged/tested the Phoenix B53. I removed the Croll from the line and let it hang beneath the ventral D. I raised the lower portion of the climbing line with my other foot to free my left foot from the SFL, keeping my control hand on the line, below the Rescue 8. I double footlocked the line to take weight off the B53. I carefully slacked the B53, taking up weight on the Rescue 8. I really enjoyed a cool, controlled slide down from about 55' slowing it on occasion to enjoy the view. There was no twist in the Firefly when I got down. I cleaned gear from the tree, packed up, thanked my host, and embarked on the return trudge, just as the storm started to mozy across the lake toward the hillside. Enjoy the pics...

\"Cyclone\"...
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3444/3211586048_e4d1339fe0.jpg\"
The look down the line...
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3516/3210745555_e7f91e9248.jpg\"
A wide-angle view of the Pileated woodpeaker. You can see it, right..? :P
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3497/3211583186_a2f2791075.jpg\"
\"Cyclone\" reaches out to touch neighboring hemlocks, all around...
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3433/3211597542_c52328a045.jpg\"
A neighbor to the majestic Red Oak...
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3080/3210754715_1b61132873.jpg\"
Looking across the lake from a lofty perch...
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3486/3211606352_fb8fb72f1a.jpg\"
Happy climber with a zebra-striped Croll lanyard ...
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3415/3210768891_3ab1581d6a.jpg\"
Looking downslope...
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3458/3210772793_ce08cf6263.jpg\"
A decent descent. Everything stayed cool...
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3436/3211636618_79109b8d22.jpg\"
Snow squall approaching. Time to trudge out...
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3534/3211637008_06e68ffafe.jpg\"

Stay warm. Climb safe.

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15 years 4 months ago #133049 by Baker
Replied by Baker on topic Re:Win-tree wonderland climb in Jan '09...
Great photos, but not needed. Your written word, so skillful, was enough to paint an accurate picture.

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15 years 3 months ago - 15 years 3 months ago #133107 by Trebuchet
Replied by Trebuchet on topic Re:Win-tree wonderland climb in Jan '09...
I'm glad you enjoyed the story. Both the day and the climb were inspiring. Thanks for your kind review.
Last edit: 15 years 3 months ago by Trebuchet.

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