Climbing lanyards are a highly personal thing and there’s no perfect solution for all climbers in every environment. It’s more about personal preference, using whatever rocks your boat and fulfills your climbing objectives. I’ve come up a number of various lanyard systems based on what I want to do, how I am going to do it, and how secure I’ll feel in the process.
In this article, the focus is on lanyards which are similar but slightly different than fliplines. A rope lanyard may be used like a steel core flipline, but fliplines are often accompanied by less tree-friendly climbing spurs and usually only when felling a tree. As a self-proclaimed and modestly sufficient recreational tree climber, I prefer to use non-invasive tree climbing methods.
In addition to the primary climbing line, a climbing lanyard is an essential component for a tree climber. It offers additional tie-in-points for added safety and affords significantly greater movement within the canopy. There are lanyards and fliplines, they come with, or without steel cores and kits usually contain a carabiner like rope snap or a carabiner and a mechanical rope grab or a hitch-tending pinto pulley and prusik cord, as a flipline adjuster.
A single lanyard is usually comprised of 10mm to 12mm, or approximately a 1/2 inch thick static climbing line, usually somewhere between 10 to 50 feet long. A rope snap or carabiner goes on one end as a connection point to the climbing harness, together with a rope-grabbing device, like a hitch tending pinto pulley, also connected to the climbing harness to adjust the lanyard’s length. When in use the excess lanyard line is usually kept in a stow bag connected to the climber’s harness, or it may hang freely.
The concept of a 2-in-1 lanyard takes advantage of the unused side of a lanyard line and may be augmented to suit a number of configurations. Adding a second rope snap and a hitch-tending pulley can turn a single use lanyard into a true 2-in-1, but using a DMM Captain throwing hook in place of one of the two carabiner/snaps can broadly expand a climber’s positioning ability when used as a second climbing line.
The traditional lanyard connects to in two places using a fixed contact and an adjustable one. The contact points are at the climber’s right and left side d-rings, if the harness has side d-rings, or onto the main bridge. Conversely, a lanyard may be used as a secondary and shorter SRT climbing system, with one adjustable contact point on the center rope bridge.
For many, using the DMM Captain throwing hook with the original kit which includes a 15m (50′) of 10mm Sirius Cord with a sewn termination and a stash bag is a great option. Keeping it separate from other lanyard systems may be preferred. The throwing hook’s line may get twisted or hockled during normal use. Getting a longer throw line untwisted is not quite as easy in a 2-in-1, so some climbers prefer the less augmented throw line, rather than a 2-in-1 lanyard.
There are two ways to connect the throwing hook to the throw line. Indirectly, enables the hook to be swapped out from one line to another, or to store it on your harness. Connecting directly to the throw line is recommended. It’s important to stress the need to be able to twist the line while navigating, setting or releasing the hook, from an intended target. Using a swivel as way a to connect the hook is a bad idea and defeats the ability to twist the hook by twisting the throw line.
I suggest having a sewn or spliced eye on end of the hook’s the throw line and connecting the hook’s shackle right onto the eye. If connecting indirectly, I like using the Singing Tree Quickie, versus a bulkier carabiner. Both indirect connection options are less permanent than having to unscrew the hook’s two screws using both a 2mm and 4mm size hex wrench. Both methods have little effect on the ability to twist the line and control the hook’s position.
The DMM Captain is not PPE (personal protective equipment) and should not be used as a primary climbing system exclusively, but only as a secondary or subsequent climbing system. With this in mind, a hitch-tending pulley may be a more ergonomic and lighter option, when compared to a mechanical descender. I prefer the Petzl Rig, but a Grigri, Trango Cinch, or other breaking devices also offer greater ease both in descending, ascending, or traversing with an optional 3:1 mechanical advantage (Rad) system.
The DMM Captain comes with a great little red carabiner that clips into the top of the hook for easier transporting. Despite the small size, it has a 4kN, or a 899.2358 pound force rating. It’s not PPE, nor is it intended to use as a way to connect the hook to and from other throw lines. Therefore, this high valued piece of climbing gear can be used as its intended hook storage clip, or possibly as a chest harness clip instead. It’s clearly a matter of personal preference.
While we are taught that it’s unsafe to use only a friction knot and hitch climbing pulley as a descending device on SRT under any circumstances and especially when incorrectly using the DMM Captain as primary climbing system. That said, when the end of the lanyard’s throwing hook is securely engaged, it creates a gravity dependent stationary rope / SRT, Hook-in-Point, not to be confused with a traditional “Tie-in-Point“.
The DMM Captain throwing hook gives the climber an efficient and convenient way to hook a climbing line onto a tree, with a life-bearing load potential. Beyond that of just a simple lanyard, this kind of 2-in-1 combines both a lanyard and a, hook augmented, second climbing system, both reliant on the same lanyard line. A climber may still want have an auxiliary throw line and throw bag on hand to use as a means to advance or re-position a climbing line or lanyard, but using a lanyard, augmented with the DMM Captain can surely save a lot of time and hassle, in that regard.
The virtues of the DMM Captain are still being discovered, enabling a more convenient, efficient and reasonably secure ways to traverse between trees. There’s to a lot of discussion over which rope grab or belay device compliments the DMM Captain the best. Many climbers prefer a friction hitch and pulley, while others prefer a mechanical progress capturing device. There are advantages to both, depending on the type of climb and the climber’s preference.
The consensus for a mechanical device to compliment the throwing hook, points toward the Trango Cinch, mostly because of it’s efficiently small footprint, ability to work well on 10mm to 11mm climbing lines. Among other devices in this category, like the Petzl GriGri, Rig or ID, also perform well on the 11mm to 13mm or half inch wide climbing lines, but not as well on 10mm lines, due to the potential for slippage when unloaded. Trango took the Cinch out of production but now sells the Vergo, but it’s only designed to work on 8.9-10.7 mm lines.
Other considerations with respect to the choice of climbing line used with a DMM Captain hook have to do with the line’s cover being able to endure abrasion from normal wear and tear. Resilient or abrasive resistant 10 mm (2/5″)polyester or kernmantle covered climbing lines is a great choice among many climbers, although some prefer 11mm to 13mm (1/2″) lines with the better grip. Thick grip with comfort and strength, versus thinner, stiffer and more resilient for throwing purposes. The choices are endless.
My ideal 2-in-1 SRT Climbing Lanyard is comprised of the following components:
- A 50′ bite of HTP Static 7/16” by Sterling, with sewn eyes on both ends.
- A Rock D Auto-locking carabiner connected on one end of the lanyard line. Keep in mind, any suitably weight rated rope-snap or carabiner works as a connector onto the climber’s harness.
- A Sterling Thimble Prusik, for a self-anchoring connection directly on the lanyard.
- Between the carabiner and the Thimble Prusik is 2″ wide Cordura Tubing which serves as both a friction-saver and the lanyard’s line protector.
- On the other terminal end of the lanyard line is the DMM Captain throwing hook installed directly onto the sewn eye.
- The Petzl Rig functions as a both lanyard adjuster, a progress capture device and a rappelling tool. It must be centrally connected to a harness’s rope bridge, not a side ring. The Rig can be switched with a lighter Grigri, but in either case, it must be properly oriented toward the end of the line being used. Certain climbing lines may slip through an unweighted Grigri, which is why I prefer the Rig.
- The final component for creating a 3:1 mechanical advantage, uses the Petzl Rollclip (a non-locking pulley carabiner) and a CT RollNLock. There are many ways to create a 3:1 advantage, some more compact and efficient than others.
Since the DMM Captain hit the scene, people have been sharing lots of great tree climbing videos, demonstrating the hook’s various uses. In some cases, people are ascending on a hook’s climbing line at various angles, including in a directly vertical manner for very short ascents, which may or may not have been the original intended use from the manufacturer’s point of view. Still, with the proper choice of a rope-grabbing adjuster, mechanical belay device or multicending device, in conjunction with a suitable choice of lanyard line and a good life-bearing load capable hook-in-point. It seems further evident that it can be effectively used in this manner, with proper discretion when identifying potential risks and utilizing specific hook-in-points with adequate strength to support and maintain the weight.
Safety wise, I check and inspect all components on this lanyard, both before and after each climb, with emphasis on the sewn eye termination end where the DMM Captain connects onto the climbing line and wherever friction is a factor. More importantly, when using a lanyard with the throwing hook, one must be extra mindful to avoid getting it snagged, possibly due to a wayward throw, thereby causing the climber to potentially abandon the entire lanyard, pending its retrieval.
Whether this 2-in-1 can actually be called a true 2-in-1 Lanyard is open to debate. Perhaps the better name should be a Dual-in-1 SRT Lanyard, being how it combines best of both a throwing hook augmented climbing line and a floating anchor lanyard, with a single connection point on a harness’s rope bridge.
My primary lanyard, shown below, will never be replaced by the Dual-in-1 SRT Lanyard, mainly because this is so lightweight, simple to use and it connects to my harness’s side-hip rings. This 15′ lanyard uses a 13mm Edelrid – Direction Up climbing line, equipped with a generic aluminum rope snap on one end, and a Petzl Micrograb Flipline Adjuster.