Climbing Saddles, Ropes and Spurs

Tree climbing is a necessary part of tree care, but working from heights can be a dangerous task. It is important to know and understand the safety measures to take when working with climbing equipment such as saddles, ropes, and spurs. As professional arborists, we get extensive training in how to use climbing saddles, ropes and spurs, but that doesn’t mean an accident can’t happen. Review these safety procedures and you could help save yourself or a co-worker from a serious or fatal mishap

Inspect Climbing Saddles, Ropes and Spurs Before Use

Climbing saddles, ropes and spurs should be inspected thoroughly before each use. Check saddles, harnesses, snaps, spurs and carabiners on a daily basis. Closely follow the protocol below when inspecting your climbing equipment.

  • Look for any wear, frayed strands, cuts, abrasions and changes in diameter in your rope. If you notice any of the above, remove the rope from service immediately. 
  • Twist the rope against its natural lay to check the inside fibers. 
  • Check for signs of wear and tear or loose parts to your climbing equipment. If any equipment is in doubt remove it from service. 

Never use equipment that appears to be worn or loose, as it can lead to falls and serious injuries. Additionally, never borrow used equipment, and make sure you are the only one using the climbing saddles, ropes and spurs. 


All ropes must be constructed from a synthetic fiber with a minimum breaking strength of 5,400 pounds. All equipment used to climb a tree must comply with weight restrictions and meet national standards for arborist equipment

Store Climbing Equipment Properly

In order to keep your climbing equipment in good condition, it is important to store it correctly. Lock it in a secure place when finished and ensure it is not directly on the ground. In addition, ensure your equipment is not near the following:

  • Liquids that could spill
  • Sharp objects that could tear the equipment
  • Windows, where direct sunlight can cause wear

Improperly storing climbing equipment can lead to significant damage of the ropes, spurs, and saddles, leading to potential injury or even death.

Inspect the Tree and Map a Climbing Path

Before climbing, thoroughly inspect the tree. Look for potential hazards that might cause you to slip, fall, or damage your equipment. Climbing without inspection first can lead to slips or falls. When performing the inspection, look for the following:


If you identify any of the above on the tree you are supposed to climb, consult with a supervisor or create an alternate path up the tree. If all is clear, map out a climbing path using proper climbing techniques. This might not be the most direct path up the tree, as you want to avoid knots, cracks, and other obstacles that may harm your spurs and ropes. 

Use Equipment Correctly

All climbers should have thorough training in how to use climbing saddles, ropes and spurs. If you have questions about how to use any of this equipment, at any time, always ask someone. Follow these precautions when climbing:

  • When using spurs, take small short steps.
  • Never walk on the ground or jump from a tree while wearing spurs.
  • Keep your arms straight and your torso away from the body of the tree.
  • Do not use your climbing line for any other purpose.

At Townsend Tree, we are dedicated to safety, and ensure our crews are trained and up-to-date with the latest safety protocols. Safety is our most important core value.

Posted: 7/22/2020 6:14:23 PM by Global Administrator