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Anchor point failure

Richard Tregoweth - Tuesday, January 19, 2010

DB Tree founder, Drew Bristow will spend tonight in Auckland hospital with suspected whiplash following a fall today. His anchor point collapsed mid-climb sending him to the ground.

Drew is well known for his safety stance in tree climbing. He had made a thorough evaluation of the tree before setting the anchor. Due to the condition of the tree Drew adopted SRT as the safest method of ascent. He considered the smooth movements of SRT would put less stress on the anchor until he could reach the crown to evaluate alternative anchor points at close quarters.

Mid-way through the climb Drew sensed a slight (unnatural) movement in the rope. He advised the ground crew of his concerns and proceeded to change from ascent to descent. Ascenders are designed for ascending - descending is a slow laborious process.

About 3-4 meters above the ground on his return the anchor point released from the tree. Drew fell hard but still on his feet. Thinking the anchor branch could possibly fall on top of him he moved instinctively to the side. This sudden movement, from full body compression to outright stretch, may have caused his injuries.

As it happens Drew's careful evaluation of the tree paid dividends. He chose an anchor point surrounded by multiple smaller branches which hung up the falling branch before it hit the ground.

Drew will spend the night in hospital for evaluation and he will be off climbing for about 10 days. We'll keep you posted!

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