This single refinement over fixed “D”, sliding “D’s”, or fixed soft loops allowed a greater range of movement, but as importantly it opened the door for improvement on the performance and efficiency of our climbing hitch systems. If you’ve been climbing long enough to remember getting your belly skin caught between sliding D rings, you are old (and wise).#2 - Two eye prusiks
It wasn’t so long ago that eye and eyes hit the scene. In the early 2000s, spliced eye and eye hitch cords were limited to hollow braids, and the few HMPEs on the scene were secured with knots on big biners (Williams, etc.). Even though much improvement would come to the products, the efficiency of 2 eye hitches in ascending and in lateral canopy movement changed climbing techniques and productivity overnight.#3 - Hardened, 4-angled tooth handsaws
This incredible cutting implement meant climbers could reduce their reliance on powered saws which often meant increased mobility through the canopy, greater productivity, less fatigue, less noise and exhaust and less likelihood of experiencing a chainsaw injury. On injuries there has been no shortage of serious cuts caused by these hand tools that even when dull, will produce an insta-gusher requiring a stack of gauze. The symbolic value of handsaws to the general public is perhaps under-appreciated, that being the work we do to care for trees.#4 - Rope wrench
Prior to this innovation coming online, SRS/SRT had seen all sorts of configurations with heaps of different hardware, connectors and textiles that definitely achieved the goal of getting up the rope more efficiently than MRS, and with much less physical effort than a static footlock. Those configurations were sometimes clunky, sometimes sketchy, and always required changing over to a work system once the access anchor point was reached. The simplicity of the wrench and its relatively compact profile provided just the right amount of elegance, but the key (in my mind) is its modular incorporation with the climber’s workhorse MRS/DdRT hitch system. It wasn’t the best at any one thing, but it was pretty good at everything and most importantly reduced a lot of gear changeover which more than likely had a net-productivity and safety benefit. This is another product that changed how climbers climbed over a very short period.# 5 - Hardhat-mounted communications
Those that have had the opportunity to use hardhat-mounted comms will forever be converted. The benefits to productivity, safety and the emotional well-being of crew members is crystal clear. Having the opportunity to be descriptive and get feedback while performing tasks was never an option whether the work was on the ground or at height prior to comms. At best there was a bunch of yelling going on, at worst, team members were uncertain of what was about to happen and the rest was up to chance. An additional unexpected benefit of comms is in mentoring. Comms conversations between workers engaged in complex procedures mean learning opportunities have a great deal more depth.
- Gary Oaks