Grabbing trees on Rp or onsights


Original Post
Jack Sparrow · · denver, co · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 1,480

Hey everyone I've been in a heated debate with some climbing friends about grabbing trees or roots that grow out of the cliff. This is all in good fun, but I need some other opinions from my fellow climbers. First off I'm strictly speaking of sport climbing, so if your climbing and there's a solid tree growing on the route who would grab it and use it as a hold or a rest. I've always thought this was off personally, but after much discussion it seems a lot of people feel that trees are on. I know that Steve McClure ( a very bad ass strong climber) grabbed a tree during a 14a onsight and shook out on it. Also if anyone has seen the video of adam ondra on plantation de shiva,  he also grabs a tree toward the top of the route, and if you watch the video he looks pumped out of his mind and just about to fall when he grabs the tree at the end of the crux.  So just looking for a general consensus on this. What do you guys think, are trees on, or is it a case by case basis. I've heard of a a few multipitch routes that have trees that are necessary to use, but what about single pitch sport or hard red points. Thanks 

Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490
Jack Sparrow wrote:

Hey everyone I've been in a heated debate with some climbing friends about grabbing trees or roots that grow out of the cliff. This is all in good fun, but I need some other opinions from my fellow climbers. First off I'm strictly speaking of sport climbing, so if your climbing and there's a solid tree growing on the route who would grab it and use it as a hold or a rest. I've always thought this was off personally, but after much discussion it seems a lot of people feel that trees are on. I know that Steve McClure ( a very bad ass strong climber) grabbed a tree during a 14a onsight and shook out on it. Also if anyone has seen the video of adam ondra on plantation de shiva,  he also grabs a tree toward the top of the route, and if you watch the video he looks pumped out of his mind and just about to fall when he grabs the tree at the end of the crux.  So just looking for a general consensus on this. What do you guys think, are trees on, or is it a case by case basis. I've heard of a a few multipitch routes that have trees that are necessary to use, but what about single pitch sport or hard red points. Thanks 

Anything on a route provided by nature is "in".

Jack Sparrow · · denver, co · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 1,480

Thx Jim, that's one for trees are on. Anyone else

Mike · · Phoenix · Joined May 2006 · Points: 2,615

This brings to mind the quote: "There is no cheating in climbing, only lying."

You can grab the tree or not, just be honest about it. I generally avoid the tree if possible, but will occasionally use one guilt-free if the mood strikes. 

BrianWS · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 790

Depends on the route, I guess. I rarely encounter trees on sport routes or single pitch trad.

I do remember trying Bombs over Tripoli in City of Rocks without knowing that the FA climbed a nearby juniper tree to get to the first bolt. It wouldn't go otherwise.

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20

Trees/shrubs/roots are totally on. As someone above said, "anything provided by nature". 

Pnelson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 85

I've always said that trees and vines are on for trad, of for sport.

John Long has a pretty funny take on this topic, too:

http://www.rockandice.com/climbing/epics/john-long-the-royal-scam

Andrew Krajnik · · Plainfield, IL · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 250

Naturals are on!

I personally avoid grabbing roots, or anything small enough to break off, but if it's there naturally, it's fair game.

Ken Noyce · · Layton, UT · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 2,067

I can't say that I've ever encountered a tree on a sport route, but I don't see any reason that it would be "off".  I've certainly climbed trad routes where using trees is pretty much a necessity, not because the rock would be too difficult to climb without them, but because the rock is entirely covered by trees or roots and you are quite literally unable to touch the rock.  As has been said, if it's there naturally, I don't see why it would be off, but sport climbs are generally cleaned pretty well and don't usually have much vegetation on them that could be used.

Parker Wrozek · · Denver, CO · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 83

Trees are off for me. Or I guess lower the grade a lot (usually). It also kind of depends on the FA as mentioned in one of the examples above. 


for example this problem is only V3(ish) if the tree is off. It would be a V0 with it on.  https://www.mountainproject.com/v/major-tom/105757477


Mark O'Neal · · Nicholson, GA · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 1,280

If it's attached to the rock it's on. Heck a lot of time it's pro

Tradgic Yogurt · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2016 · Points: 55

Outside the gym, if you can reach it, it's on.

Jason Todd · · Cody, WY · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 953

And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything…

Grab them by the root. You can do anything.

Turner · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 315

Trees are aid.

Joe Garibay · · Ventura, Ca · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 80

I love trees! I'd like to see plastic trees in the gym. With little plastic biting ants and plastic bees! Would help with the transition for those that want to climb outside but don't like dirt. 

Jon Frisby · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 100

On, unless it's got rap rings, in which case, DON"T GRAB THE CHAINZZZ

Eric Carlos · · Chattanooga, TN · Joined Aug 2008 · Points: 40
Parker Wrozek wrote:

Trees are off for me. Or I guess lower the grade a lot (usually). It also kind of depends on the FA as mentioned in one of the examples above. 


for example this problem is only V3(ish) if the tree is off. It would be a V0 with it on.  https://www.mountainproject.com/v/major-tom/105757477


That tree you are referencing is growing near the rock, not out from the rock high up on a route.  Terrible comparison.  

jmmlol · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 0

I thought this was rock climbing.

Joe Garibay · · Ventura, Ca · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 80

On a serious note, if there are chains near a tree, or if you can climb around the tree without grabbing it, that would be the better option. Trees take a lot of abuse from climbers. In my area there are a few anchors placed near trees in an otherwise bolt free environment to help save them. 

David Gibbs · · Ottawa, ON · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 6
Pnelson wrote:

I've always said that trees and vines are on for trad, off for sport.

That's always been my feeling, too.

Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 165

if a climber grabs a tree and no one is there to hear them spray, does it make a difference?

climb for you. who cares johnny jumprope grabs trees and i dont? even if there was a consensus of what "counts," what does it count towards? nothing.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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