by Tree Climbing Instructor Tim "Tengu" Kovar 

A "Tengu Tip" might be an article about a new climbing technique, a note on familiar techniques, news about gear development, or a tip from other climbers. It could be anything noteworthy that Tim wants to share having to do with climbing trees, tree climbing gear, or facilitating others into the canopy.


Tip #6: Trango Cinch Motion Lanyard

May 2009


It’s a Cinch....

For the past 5 years, I have been admiring and testing a little device called the Cinch, made by Trango. I first received one from a friend who was in Canada for a rock climbing trade show. At that time the Cinch was not yet released in the USA, awaiting more extensive testing by a well known outdoor store. Upon the arrival of my new toy, I instantly recognized the potential of this little guy as a lanyard adjuster. I tested it out on a hank of 7/16” Sportline and it held solid, unlike the Grigri that can slip on the same diameter rope.


Since that time Trango has made improvements to their Cinch. Now that I’ve had a few years of climbing on the improved Cinch as a lanyard, I think this is a good time to let the recreational climbing community know that there is an alternative device to the expensive Petzl Grillon.


One of the best features of this little tool is its size. At only 182 gm, you will hardly know you’re carrying it until you need it. The Cinch performs well in temperate, tropical and woodland forests. I take it with me on every climb.

To set up

I use an oval screw link to connect the Cinch to the floating D on my New Tribe saddle, handle facing up towards me.


The rope I prefer is 25' of Yale Chameleon. There are other ropes out there that will work (9.4-11mm) but for a good price along with a true smooth handling performance, you can't beat the Chameleon.


On the working end of the rope, I place an 18” Dan House Rope Sleeve (affectionately called “Earthworm”) followed by a figure eight on a bight knot with a triple action auto-locking carabiner, such as the Petzl AMD Ball Lock. On the standing end of the rope, I have another figure eight on a bight for my stopper knot, to prevent the Cinch coming off of the end as I lower myself out of my working position.

Thanks to New Tribe's Casey Jones for demonstrating the Cinch for this Tengu Tip.






To advance:

--place the working end of the rope over the intended branch 

--position the Earthworm properly over the back side of this branch

--clip the carabiner back to your saddle belt screw link

--pull the standing end of the rope towards the branch


Keep everything close at hand (Cinch attached to the legstrap D and carabiner attached to the belt screw link) to allow easy reach with smooth access.






To retreat:

--grab the lever with your left hand

--grab the standing end of the rope with your right hand and gently pull the lever towards you. With the Earthworm in place this makes a very smooth ride back to your original position.








When not in use, I feed all the rope through the Cinch, until the stopper knot is butted up against the device. Then I loosely coil the rope, rope sleeve included, and stuff it into the Open Bucket on the right side of my saddle. This keeps rope management to a minimum and you will only have a small amount rope hanging out of the Bucket. I keep the auto-locking carabiner connected to the lanyard at all times for convenience.



Added bonus

As a recreational climber, I like to keep my gear light and tight. The majority of my climbs are wilderness climbs and the weight of every piece of gear adds up quickly. When I go out on a wild climb, I want the gear I put on my saddle to have at least two functions during the climb. With the Trango Cinch at my side, I have not only a light weight dependable motion lanyard device but I also have a back up rappel device, in case I drop my primary device. (Keep a back-up safety device above the Cinch as you rappel.)


Here Casey is using the cinch as a rappel device in place of the Blake’s hitch. This eliminates unnecessary friction created on a DRT climb.


Warnings: Do not shock load the Cinch. Use the Cinch only for what it is designed for. I have heard reports of climbers using it as a tension tightening device (installing zip lines) and when they went to release the load the handle broke. The Cinch still held the load, but they had to go to Plan B to release the tension.

I recommend practicing with this and all new tools "LOW and SLOW" until you are confident that you can use it safely on a climb.