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#30. How to Attach Climbing Holds to a Tree

ATOMIK HOW-TO-SERIES #12 (12.1)
Attaching Climbing Holds to a Tree
DISCLAIMER
Just because it's there does not mean you should climb it
Being an environmentally conscious company, we never recommend attaching anything to a living tree because doing so will risk killing that tree.
We do not want to encourage this behavior, but we recognize that some people will attach to trees whether we recommend it or not.
This how-to was created for those who know the risk and are moving forward anyway so that the climbers' safety is protected.
If a tree is scheduled to be removed or if you are willing to risk the tree's life, here is a step-by-step guide for installing holds to a tree.
ATOMIK - Attaching Climbing Holds to a Tree(12.2)
STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS

If you are not proficient in setting up a top-rope belay and belaying, you should stop right here and consult a professional. Being in a tree is dangerous unless you know what you are doing.
Attaching holds to any tree can kill them. The tree in the How-To has to be removed so we are making the most of it while it is still up.

ATOMIK - Attaching Climbing Holds to a Tree(12.3)
MORE SAFETY NOTES

Ropes and harnesses must be removed from the tree every time. They will not withstand the elements of nature.
Consider public access to the tree. It is important to not let anyone get up the tree without being roped in; therefore we removed the bottom 8 feet in this example.
We use a ladder to gain access when in use.

ATOMIK - Attaching Climbing Holds to a Tree(12.4)

Install a chain anchor with two points of protection.
That means if one system fails, there is a backup system.
This anchor has 3/8" chain wrapped around a 12" limb.
It is backed up using 4" lag screws through the bolt hangers.
NEVER use lag screws as a primary anchor.

ATOMIK - Attaching Climbing Holds to a Tree(12.5)
PREPARING TO WORK IN THE TREE
Safety first!

Now that you have a climbing rated rope through your top rope belay, you can work off of that or off of a ladder.
Always be attached to the tree when over 8" off of the ground via a daisy chain.

ATOMIK - Attaching Climbing Holds to a Tree(12.6)
ATTACHING THE HOLDS
Small footprints work best

The key to choosing holds for a tree is for them to be screw-on and to have a small footprint.
Small footprinted holds give you a better chance to the hold laying flush against the tree.
The larger the footprint of the hold; the harder it is to get the hold to lay flat.
You do not want climbers to be able to get their fingers behind the base of the hold and the tree.

ATOMIK - Attaching Climbing Holds to a Tree(12.7)
ATTACHING THE HOLDS
And the right spot

Move the hold around the tree to find a flat spot.
Look for a different hold if the one in your hand is not lying flat.
Remove any bark that may keep the hold from lying flat.
Use 3" to 4" Self Drilling Deck Screws with a drill driver to install the holds.

ATOMIK - Attaching Climbing Holds to a Tree(12.8)
CLIMBING THE TREE
Safety first. Belay always.

Safety first. If you don't know how to belay, seek a professional.
Always be tied in using a climbing rated rope and harness.
Always use a rated belay device, no matter the weight of the climber.