Tree climbing, whether for professional arborist work or recreational purposes, requires specialized equipment to ensure safety and efficiency. This guide explores essential tools for both ascending and descending in tree climbing, focusing on mechanical devices that enhance traditional climbing techniques.

Understanding Climbing Systems

Moving Rope System (MRS) and Stationary Rope System (SRS) are two primary methods used in arborist climbing:

  • MRS: Traditionally known as the doubled-rope technique (DbRT), this system involves a rope over a branch, forming a loop with knots, and a carabiner connected to the climber’s saddle.
  • SRS: Previously called single rope technique (SRT), uses a fixed line which the climber ascends and descends on with the help of mechanical devices.

Ascending Tools

Mechanical ascenders offer a way to climb more efficiently than traditional knot-based systems. These tools attach to the rope, aiding the climber’s ascent by leveraging leg muscles, which are stronger than arm muscles, thus reducing fatigue.

Types of Ascenders:

Foot Ascenders:

Attach to the climber’s shoe, allowing the use of leg strength to ascend. They are vital for their ergonomic benefits but must be removed before descending to avoid accidents. The CT Quick Step Foot Ascender is a standout choice for both novice and experienced climbers. This device is designed to facilitate smooth upward movement, minimizing fatigue by leveraging the strength of your leg muscles.

Hand Ascenders:

Used primarily in SRS for hand climbing. They feature a cam with teeth that grip the rope under load but should be used carefully to prevent rope damage. The innovative design of the Petzl Zigzag Plus Mechanical Prusik represents a significant evolution in climbing technology and safety, offering versatility and enhanced control for tree climbers.

Knee Ascenders:

Part of a rope-walker system, they utilize a bungee cord to facilitate a stair-like climbing motion, ideal for long ascents. Incorporating the Double Leg Stiff Tether into your climbing setup enhances the functionality of knee ascenders, making it an indispensable tool for arborists focused on maximizing their climbing efficiency and safety.

Safety Tips for Ascenders

  • Always ensure a life-supporting attachment when using foot ascenders.
  • Practice using ascenders at lower heights before taking on significant climbs.

Descending Devices

While ascenders are designed for climbing up, descenders control the descent, making them crucial for safe and efficient tree work.

Types of Descenders

Figure 8:

Traditional device but noted for its rapid descent rate, which requires careful handling. The efficient Rock Exotica MiniEight features a compact design, so it’s easier to handle and store, as well as enhance descent speed control.

Cammed Devices:

These offer controlled descent with features such as panic stops to prevent too rapid descents. The Petzl Chicane Auxiliary Brake is a standout device that adds an extra layer of control and safety to your descents. It allows for smooth movement on the rope while providing a braking system that can be easily engaged in case of an emergency.

All-in-One Tools for Ascending and Descending

Modern climbing technologies have introduced devices that can handle both ascending and descending efficiently. These tools are versatile but come with a higher cost. They are designed for experienced climbers who understand their functionality to prevent misuse and potential accidents.


This is a highly versatile climbing tool that can function both as an ascender and a descender, making it a unique and valuable piece of equipment for tree climbing. The Rock Exotica Unicender is known for its efficiency, enabling smooth and easy movement up and down the rope with minimal friction and virtually no sit-back during use.

Rope Wrench:

A rope wrench can enable arborists to manage their climbs with precision. The ISC Singing Tree Rope Wrench stands out as a crucial tool for arborists who utilize SRS. Its stiff tether keeps the system aligned and properly spaced, ensuring optimal performance and safety during use.

Rope Runner:

A rope runner allows a climber to ascend and descend a single rope without changing equipment. It should be used only by experts given that it is sensitive to touch. The Rock Exotica Akimbo is particularly valued for its ability to be used on both stationary and moving rope systems.

Choosing the Right Tools

When selecting climbing gear, it’s important to consider:

  • Compatibility with your climbing system (MRS or SRS).
  • Experience Level: Some tools, like the rope runner, are better suited for advanced climbers.
  • Safety Features: Essential for preventing accidents, especially with mechanical devices.

Shop Western Tree Equipments’ Collection of Quality Ascenders and Descenders

Investing in the right ascending and descending tools can significantly enhance climbing efficiency and safety. However, it is vital to start with basic systems, understand each tool’s capabilities, and ensure all equipment is used according to safety guidelines. Whether you are an experienced arborist or new to learning about essential climbing tools, Western Tree Equipment & Repairs has all the gear you need to climb to new heights!

Related posts

Post categories


Popular products

Join Our Newsletter!

Newsletter Sign-Up