Ascent And Descent

Sort By

Climbing Ascenders and Descenders

Climbing trees takes tools. The original method was strenuous, involving nothing but knots and carabiners. This rope system took quite a bit of effort to use, meaning that climbers would be tired by the time they reached the canopy. Thankfully, ascending and descending has become much easier thanks to advancements in climbing technology. There are a number of tools that a climber can use while making their way up the ropes. Ascenders and descenders, as well as combination tools, are some of the most talked about climbing tools available to arborists.

What's a Rope Ascender?

A rope ascender is a tool used for making your way up a rope system, or ascending it. There are a number of different types of ascenders available, depending on your preferred method of climbing. The options below are the most popular available.

Hand Ascenders

Hand ascenders, like the name implies, are traditional handled ascenders operated in the hand. Some incorporate a single handle, while others use a two-handed approach. Most climbers aren't using hand ascenders anymore, as they take too much energy to operate. This can lead to tiring out before being able to execute tree work. These can only be used with a stationary rope system.

Foot Ascenders

A foot ascender is used by utilizing feet to move up a rope. These are preferred over hand ascenders, as they use leg muscles rather than upper body muscles, making climbing easier. A foot ascender can be used with a stationary or moving rope system. It's important to realize that foot ascenders aren't meant for life support.

Knee Ascenders

Knee ascenders, like the Stein Knee Ascent System, are used for rope walker systems. These ascenders use a bungee cord and a floating ascender, allowing you to climb the rope like a staircase. These can be used with both rope systems as well.

What's a Rope Descender?

Descending devices are tools that are used to move down a rope while climbing. These tools need special training, as they can be dangerous if used improperly. Typically, there are two different methods of descent if using a dedicated descender.

Traditional Figure 8

The classic figure 8 descender is shaped like a figure 8, and it is used to control the rate of descent. It does so by applying friction to the rope.

Cammed Descending Devices

These devices use a handle that's pulled to reduce friction on the rope, allowing for descent. Many have a built-in panic stop, helping to avoid any accidents while descending.

All-in-One Tools

All-in-one climbing tools are quickly becoming the standard in climbing. These allow for both ascending and descending the rope, meaning that a single tool can be used rather than a kit of tools. Of the available combo tools, there are three very popular options among professionals.

The Unicender

The unicender is a very popular all-in-one tool developed by Rock Exotica and introduced in 2005. It can be used in both single and double rope techniques. The unicender relies on its unique friction plates, letting ascent happen smoothly. When you're ready to descend, wrap your rope and start heading down. It's just that easy.

Rope Wrench

Rope wrenches, like the Singing Tree Rope Wrench, are some of the best all-in-one tools available. Using just a rope wrench and a basic rope wrench tether, any single rope technique climbing technique is made easy. These tools have changed the way climbing is done since their introduction. All it takes is a wrench and a great budget tether to get yourself up and down the trees you're looking to climb.

Rope Runner

When it comes to combination tools, the rope runner is the most advanced, but also the most sensitive. Rope runners require a delicate touch due to their design. They're sensitive, meaning movement can be delicate. If you've started to master climbing, it may be time to consider a rope runner, like the Notch Rope Runner Pro, designed by the original inventor of the rope runner, Kevin Bingham.

An Innovative Idea Turned Into Reality

New gear for climbing enters the market every day. Items like the revolutionary chest ascender by Camp Turbo have made climbing a bit easier. New products are going to continue to be developed, and we'll be there to keep you up to date. Treestuff backs all of the products that we offer, including all of our ascent and descent tools. If you're looking to add gear to your kit that'll get you off the ground safely, we've got it. 

As always, safety and quality are the utmost concern. If you're not sure what you need or have any questions about tree climbing gear, please ask a Treestuff specialist by using our online chat. You can also reach us at and by calling 877-408-7337.