Risky Business

January 10, 2024 5:12 pm Published by

This was work that was four years in the making. One of our clients owns an Air BnB in Murphys, CA. It’s surrounded by native oak and pine trees. One of the oak trees had a 40’ tall leader* that extended out over the back porch.  All the foliage and branching on this 20 inch diameter leader is at the top, making this leader at risk of failure. One major branch in this leader had broken, and was still suspended in the tree. Another major branch on this leader was dangerously close to failure, and this last one was positioned over the rental’s deck. The client requested the branch over the deck be removed.  Utilizing a boom on this work was not possible because of the steep slope where this tree is located.  Climbing the tree was the only option.

Why did it take so long to do this job, especially given that work on the BnB property started 4 years ago? The client asked for the work to be done back then, but I saw it as too risky, and declined to quote on it. Of course the client’s issue didn’t go away, and our continuing relationship kept it as an ongoing conversation with Lone Oak. When its imminent failure seriously threatened to destroy the porch and the operation of the Air BnB, I was called on to figure out how to get that branch out.

The crux of the risk of this job was focused on that leader. The leader was exceptionally long and incredibly flexible. The climb line (basically, the rope that helps you start the climb) made it swing with only light pressure of the rope. As I tried to climb the tree, it moved really easily, and it moved a lot. The crew had to tie it back to another section of the tree, as well as to the ground to keep it from swaying while working in it. Typically we don’t have to tie off a leader at all. But, as you can imagine, wielding a chain saw while the leader I’m supported on is flapping in the breeze, makes me more than a little uncomfortable. With a 170 pound man on the climb line, the leader could easily be bent to point of failure. It had to be stabilized in order to work in it, which is what the crew and I did to get the job done. The Air BnB remains open for business and we have a satisfied client.

*What’s a leader? In the context of a tree, a leader is a primary branch starting at the trunk. Broad leaf trees can have multiple leaders, unlike conifers, like a redwood, which will have one main leader with foliage and branches directly from it.

Blue arrow points to the Leader. Red arrow points to the branch to be removed.

Utilized a zip line to get branches safely to the ground

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