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 new or old school gear. I’ve come up with 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.
This article focuses 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. I prefer to use non-invasive tree climbing methods while trying to leave little, or no footprints.
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 flip-lines of varied lengths. Lanyard kits usually include a carabiner or a rope snap and some sort of rope grabbing device or hitch tending system, as the lanyard’s adjuster.
If you are relying completely on the lanyard and no longer connected to your primary climbing line, you may not always be able to abort the climb and reach the ground without a climbing line switchover in a possible emergency situation. IMHO, there’s a lot to be said for always having a your own dedicated line to the ground, or some way to make a relatively quick and safe descent to the ground at all times, so there’s that to consider too.
The traditional lanyard connects to in two places using a fixed contact and an adjustable point of contact. The contact points are usually on the climber’s right and left side d-rings, if the harness has side d-rings, or onto the main bridge’s central connection. The fact is, a centrally connected lanyard can become a secondary climbing system or self-anchoring lanyard. The essence of any lanyard system relies on one of two types of climbing systems using either a stationary or moving rope, SRT or DdRT, system.
The concept of a 2-in-1 lanyard takes advantage of the unused end of a lanyard line’s leg, augmented to suit a number of configurations. Adding another 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.
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 for greater maneuverability. Beyond that of just a simple lanyard, the 2-in-1 Climbing Lanyard combines both a lanyard and a throwing hook into a multi-functional SRT climbing system. Even with all the conveniences this offers, a climber may still want have a shorter more basic lanyard, primarily for quick tie-ins, facilitating positioning, or when advancing the primary climbing line.
Connecting a DMM Captain directly to the throw line’s sewn eye is efficient, but the hook is then committed to just that lanyard line, unless you have the right size hex wrench on hand. It’s also important 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 defeats the ability to maneuver the hook by twisting the line. Connecting the hook to the lanyard line using a Singing Tree Quickie, versus a bulkier carabiner is a nice way to keep the DMM Captain on your harness and then use it when needed. This type of indirect connection avoids having to unscrew the hook’s two screws using both a 2mm and 4mm size hex wrench.
The DMM Captain throwing hook’s kit comes with a stash bag and a 15m (50′) of 10mm Sirius Cord with a sewn eye at one end of the line’s termination. Because the hook’s line tends to get twisted or hockled during normal use, some may prefer not to incorporate the hook in to a 2-in-1 lanyard system. Getting a line untwisted can be a pain at times, so some climbers prefer the less augmented throw line, rather than a 2-in-1 lanyard.
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 throwing hook has a greater propensity to slip or move, without being locked in to position.
Having a throw line and throw bag on hand to use as a means to advance or re-position a climbing line or lanyard is doable, but using a lanyard, augmented with the DMM Captain saves a lot of time and hassle. For production climbers, a throwing hook and throw line are also great when used for rigging.
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 simple 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 usually points toward the Trango Cinch, or perhaps a GriGri, mostly because of it’s efficiently small footprint. Other suitable breaking and progress capture devices with lock-off functions like the Rig can be used effectively, but the climber needs to be sure the device is compatible with size of the lanyard’s line.
The DMM Captain is not personal protective equipment (PPE) 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 mechanical descender like a Petzl Rig, a Grigri, or a Trango Cinch, or similar devices offer greater ease both in descending, ascending, traversing, using an optional 3:1 mechanical advantage (Rad) system.
The DMM Captain also 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, but just a friction knot and hitch climbing pulley as a descending device on an SRT climbing system is not recommended.
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 are great choices among many climbers, although some prefer 11mm to 13mm (1/2″) lines with the thicker grip. Thick grip with comfort and strength, versus thinner, lighter and more resilient for throwing purposes. The choices are endless.
My 2-in-1 SRT Climbing Lanyard is usually 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 locking carabiner works as a connector onto the climber’s harness.
- A basic hitch climber pulley and 10mm eye&eye Beeline prusik cord, held together with a carabiner to complete the traditional lanyard. I’ve also been tinkering with the Sticht Hitch.
- A Sterling Thimble Prusik, provides a self-anchoring connection directly on the lanyard.
- Between the carabiner and the Thimble is mid-line attachable rope sleeve like Friction Saver.
- On the other terminal end of the lanyard line is the sewn eye with a removable Tree Quickie, connected to a DMM Captain throwing hook.
- The Rig, GriGri, or other mechanical breaking devices may be able to function as a progress capture device and a rappelling tool, when the throwing hook is securely engaged.
- The final component for creating a 3:1 mechanical advantage uses a Rad system. My Rad system is a Hand Ascender and a Roll Clip which combines a pulley with a carabiner. Of course, many other ways to create a 3:1 advantage are possible, using more of less gear to mitigate friction.
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.
Depending on the climb objective, the more basic lanyard shown below will never replace the Dual-in-1 SRT Lanyard, but it certainly provides a far more lightweight and compact alternative. 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.
Over time I’ve come to realize the benefits of having several size hanks of lanyard lines, each with removable components. The one 15 foot lanyard facilitates the nearby tie-ins, while either the 30 foot or 50 foot lanyard enables me to use the SRT/throw hook system to traverse and reach the throw hook’s location, and then transition to a reconfigured DdRT lanyard climbing system for the return trip, after retrieving the throw hook. A primary climbing system usually remains intact while using any secondary lanyard systems, except during secure transitions.