The Ronin Lift Power Ascender

A climber with Signature Tree Care demonstrates the Ronin Lift. All photos courtesy of Ronin.

This product was “unboxed” by Corey J. Shepard at the Unboxing Ring on the show floor during TCI EXPO 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Unboxing Ring is a product-spotlight area of TCI EXPO that provides select exhibitors the opportunity to feature their newest products. If you missed the Unboxing Ring product reviews at last year’s TCI EXPO, put it on your itinerary for this year’s event, October 29-31, 2020, in Baltimore, Maryland. You want to be the first to know about all the new innovations the tree care industry has to offer.

One of the health-related issues that climbers throughout the industry struggle with is repetitive stress on muscles and joints. Climbing activities, such as ascending tall trees, can be harmful to joints and muscles. Ronin, based in Placentia, California, has addressed that problem by designing an innovative climbing tool that allows climbers to access the tops of the trees with significantly reduced repetitive stress. It is a battery-powered personal ascender called the Ronin Lift, and it has allowed many climbers to be more efficient and productive on a daily basis.

The Ronin Lift was engineered by a group coming from the rescue industry who previously designed rescue hoists and winches for helicopters. The Ronin team recognized the need for at-height workers, including tree climbers, to have better access tools for daily activities.

How it works

The rope wraps around a capstan-style mechanism inside the device that then self-feeds the rope to load. A manual-tensioning knob adjusts rope tension to increase or decrease the device’s grip on the rope. The climber attaches to one of the two attachment points on the device and uses a secondary backup on the rope, such as a Blake’s hitch or mechanical rope grab. By operating the variable-speed thumbwheel trigger, the device ascends the rope with the climber at a rate of from 0.5 feet per second to 1.7 feet per second. The Ronin Lift has an independent braking system and a speed-reduction gearbox designed to allow climbers to control the descent speed.

The climber attaches to one of the two attachment points on the device and uses a secondary backup on the rope.

The Ronin Lift can ascend 350 feet of rope in a single-line configuration with a maximum load of 400 pounds. It can lift up to 1,200 pounds when using a 3-to-1 mechanical advantage.

A braking mechanism acts as a primary safety feature, in that it is always activated while ascending and stopping. The brake can be manually opened for controlled descent. Some models have a power-reverse function that will assist in fully removing the rope from the device.

Rope selection

The only approved rope construction for use with the Ronin Lift is static, low-elongation kernmantle or aramid rope. The rope size must be between 10 mm and 12 mm in diameter, with low reduction in the rope diameter (recommended under 2% elongation); it should be a very stiff rope that holds its shape under compression. The outer sheath should be at least 32 strands to allow for smooth feeding through the device. Prepare the rope ends before feeding the rope into the device by melting with a lighter and then squeezing the ends into a cone shape.

Climber Mike Henshall uses the Ronin Lift. The only approved rope construction for use with the Ronin Lift is static, low-elongation kernmantle or aramid rope.

You might think you’d need a tinkerer’s mind in order to load and operate this nifty device, but it doesn’t take rocket science. It is pretty easy to operate, and the lightweight, durable construction makes it an easy go-to for regular use. The main benefit, though, is to the climber. The Ronin Lift can reduce repetitive stress injuries, which will greatly extend the longevity of a climber’s career.

Corey Shepard, CTSP, is a regional skills trainer with The Davey Tree Expert Company in East Norriton, Pennsylvania. This article does not constitute or imply an endorsement by The Davey Tree Expert Company of the product referenced.

Product Review is a new feature for TCI Magazine. The idea is to have an independent third party provide feedback on how a product or service works or applies in the field. If you would be interested in having a product reviewed, contact Tchukki Andersen, CTSP, BCMA and TCIA staff arborist, at tandersen@tcia.org.

This review reflects the thoughts and opinions of the writer as a user, and is not an endorsement of any specific company, product or service. Every entity or individual should review and test all products for applicability, safety and efficacy in their particular operation.

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