Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Climbing an amazing Sequoia again....and again!

To paraphrase F.H. Clark, It is a pleasure to linger in a redwood! 

In his Annual Report of the State Board of Horticulture of the State of California, for 1891 he writes most poetically and in obvious awe of the redwood forest. "We seek their companionship with quiet satisfaction; for, in striking contrast with the heavy shade and gloomy depths of our great pine forests, the shadows in the densest growth of redwoods are made soft and semi-luminous by rays of sunlight piercing the feathery foliage, glistening through the pillared glades, illuminating the warm brown and somber gray trunks of these grand trees. And this commingling of light and shade gives to daylight in the redwoods a peculiar softness in keeping with the stillness of the scene."

John Muir goes further than to merely identify the forest as a place of aesthetic beauty and tranquil contemplation. Way back in 1901 in Our National Parks (chapter 1) Muir was asking us to feel the slowness of time, to try and contemplate the differing rhythms of nature operating on such vastly different scales and most importantly, I think  he recognised that just being in the forest had health benefits. "Wander here a whole summer, if you can...give a month at least to this precious reserve. The time will not be taken from the sum of your life. Instead of shortening, it will indefinitely lengthen it and make you truly immortal."  We had to wait a further 108 years for scientists to identify some of the very specific health benefits of Forest Bathing which has been shown to positively affect human immune function.
I don't know how hanging around up IN a redwood compares but it sure makes me feel happy and gives me a deep sense of contentment. It can also require quite a lot of hard work to get up there safely! Here are a few snapshots and chat from a couple of sorties up this beauty of a Sequoiadendron giganteum.

First step was to use my super-slick Zing-it throwline to pull up the 11mm Blaze, figured into a choked SRT rig with a chunky maillon thru an alpine butterfly. Then it was a gine puzzle to figure out which of the branches were safe enough to use (i.e. NOT pointing down or stumps or twigs), it was quite a challenge!!

The STEIN Outreach MKII Retriever is a big help to grab throwline when I chuck it over a nice limb out to the side. Some time later (!) the main stem started to get real thin and I was climbing on branches up to the top where it was thick with cones. And check out the amazing view below!

The sun started to sink to the horizon and popped out of the clouds. It turned gorgeous and it was hard to leave!

To reduce impact on the tree I used my fancy fimblSAVER to stop the rope rubbing on the bark of this big limb, the one I first climbed into the tree on. All went smoothly - I dropped down on DRT and on the ground, proceeded to retrieve the fimblSAVER. Which got stuck! Tried jigging and shoogling the rope in every direction but it was no good. I tied up the rope as it got dark and packed up for Take 2 on the morra.

DAY 2 
I decided to rig for extra safety today. On the way down yesterday I had put in a throwline round the main stem at around 25m so I had that to send the access lines straight to the top.

There was a bit more friction on the line than I'd hoped to just rigged a single access line. The girth was over eight and a half meters so I used the old 13mm arb as a base tie (wrap 3, pull 2) and for fun tied an extra anchor on the end of the access line.

Climbed up to the limb with the stuck rope and heck, there was no way that was coming off yesterday! It had got nicely wedged under a small twig and that serves me right for not checking out the situation before I descended yesterday. 

At the top I pulled up my sack with the thermos in, plus the big tape measure - it was measuring time! The line dropped to the ground and I zipped down to place the weight in exactly the right place at the base of the tree. Back up (I love the ascending part so was very happy to do it twice!) I checked off the height at 30m then used the magic stick to measure the last few metres. At 34.26m it was a beauty; happy days!

"One should go to the woods for safety, if nothing else." John Muir