Hello and welcome. As mentioned in the ‘About us’ section, I’m going to walk you through a climbing hitch that I created. Certain terminologies are known by most tree climbers but can be difficult to explain to new comers. Below, I’ll try and present it clearly for you.
Here it goes….
A climbing hitch is a short piece of rope that we wrap in various configurations around our climbing rope. The hitch moves up the rope as we ascend. It will grab the rope when weighted and by pulling down on it we descend/rappel. Eye spliced (pictured) or anchor type knots are what we connect to, attaching ourselves to the climbing line. These hitches are our lives. No ifs ands or buts about it.
On to the story now.
Named the Valdotain Trese, it is probably one of the most widely used hitches. When tied correctly there’s not much potential of failure. It gets tight and binds up though. For a skinny guy like me, that’s a no beuno.
See that it instructs 4 wraps on top? Most people, including me, used 3 wraps. It caused the hitch to get very loose but it was still very fast when it came to rappelling. This hitch is something that you always kept your hand on when putting your weight on it. When it would get loose, I remember looking at it often and thinking “I bet if I fell, it would catch me”.
Thank God I never found out.
One evening in June of 2012, I was surfing social media and came across a drop test video from my friend Kevin Bingham. He was hoisting a 200lb log 30ft in the air, releasing it into a short free fall onto different hitches and his Rope Wrench. (Kevin invented the RW and has revolutionized tree climbing with the ideas behind it. I will explain it, in detail, in my next blog.)
There was only one hitch that failed completely and the log smashed the ground at full speed!
That hitch was the VT. I had been climbing on it for years!!
The next morning on the job site I start to tie the VT onto my rope…… But….. I can’t climb on that anymore! And I don’t like all the other hitches I’ve tried.
What I wanted was to maintain high performance speed but I needed complete security.
The solutions came to mind immediately.
Security – The Klemheist and 6 coil prusik is used as a safety tether to catch you if you slipped when climbing up a rope. The difference between these two and the VT is where the legs are oriented. The VT, one leg on either side, centered on the rope.
The Klemheist and prusik, both legs off to one side, off centered.
Next, I start twisting the legs. This is where it’s important for the climber to dial in his own preference. I prefer a 23″ cord (the size in these pictures). The twists spring load the wraps, keeping the hitch from getting tighter or looser.
Here’s where it finishes up. I place a micro-pulley in the middle of the eyes and around the rope.
The purpose of the pulley is to help push the hitch up the rope and to direct rope into the hitch when rappelling.
And……there you have it! The Coopers Hitch!
To me, it was a quick fix. I was impressed with it from the start and because of a few good friends who gave it a try, it went global. My friends Aaron Johns of Lapeer, MI and Jason Messer of Portland, OR were responsible for sharing it and promoting it.
As a result, I have pictures of other climbers utilizing this hitch from around the world. I take pride in knowing that other climbers find it effective and enjoy it, like I do. It’s the only hitch that I would trust my son’s life on. He’s 5 and has been climbing on it since he was 3. I’ll show you in most of my blogs, my kids and how they’re climbing is advancing. And other things related to enjoying life as a tree family.
Thanks for your interest.
A well respected arborist and great friend Cary Gibson of Ontario put a review of my hitch on YouTube. It’s a fantastic review and I’m honored by it.