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 Directly to a Tree (12.2)
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 Directly 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 Directly 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 Directly to a Tree (12.5)
PREPARING TO WORK IN THE TREE
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 Directly 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 Directly 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 Directly 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.