Some Nuts Don't Fall Far From The Tree!

By Jody Cole

January 21,2001

Jody ColeThe day started out sunny and cool. What more could we have asked for? We were heading out with a couple of friends to test out the new Ramsey Wireless Remote. The test area was a popular off-road area located just west of Tulsa, Oklahoma. This particular area had posed some trouble for me in the past. Very few people can claim that they rolled their Jeep on flat ground, but that's another store for another time. The plan for the day was to get 3-4 hours of winch test-time and do a few harder areas while we were out.

I hit the trail along with Ron Vanderslice from Ramsey Winch and Matt Whiteis. We had gassed up and aired down at the local hangout, Sam's Offroad. Since Ron and Matt are new to these trails, I figured I'd take them in the easy way and then head over to the famed "Make-it or Break-it". Nothing better than warming up on the hard stuff. This particular spot has had only two people make it and the rest have gone home broken or scared. The spot is located down in a gully and the intent is to climb out the opposite side up a 25 foot hill with a couple of ledges on it. These "couple" of ledges are roughly the wheelbase of a Jeep and step up about six feet a piece. Not only is it steep, but there is a tree or two thrown in for added excitement.

Hitting the hill hard enough to get up will throw your Jeep into a tailspin, literally standing it up on its tail. If you are lucky enough to get up and over the first ledge, you're in the make-it-or-winch-it point. Falling backward will put you into a tree. I eased up the ledge to get a feel for the angle. Knowing that we wanted winch time, I elected not to slam the gas and let my fuel injected Chevy 350 power me up and over the ledges. This would have likely given me the chance to replace one of my Dana 44 axles, however, so I elected to winch, instead.

With Matt and Ron just teaming with energy and knowing that they wouldn't try it, I convinced them to pull the winch cable and secure it to one of the larger trees at the top. This was our chance to test the Ramsey Wireless Remote, which was part of the reason we hit the trails in the first place. This thing is cool. No more having to fumble for the winch remote. I keep mine in my Tuffy console attached to a bottle opener. We ran the winch and tested various angles of control, including in the Jeep, out of the Jeep, out in the woods, and in front and in back. The remote worked like a charm.

Jody ColeWe finally got the Jeep up the ledges. Incredibly, we almost stalled the winch, even with a 105amp alternator fueling twin Napa gel-filled batteries.

Once up on the top, I knew I didn't want to go back down the way I came up. It was way too steep and my stretched CJ would likely tip over. With this in mind, I headed around to the bypass. This was a similar rock structure but wasn't as exposed. As I eased over the edge, feeling my Rock-et Science Brake system holding me steady, my front tires eased over the first ledge. Of course, at this time my seatbelt tightened up. Having been known to not make the right choices sometimes, I took off my seat belt, assuming that I'd just bounce my way down the ledges.

Now that the front tires had eased far enough over the top, gravity took over. As I felt the tires slide, I suddenly felt the front left side grab and the tires turned, sending the rear of my Jeep airborne. Things got really quiet. My seat started to draw up. Thoughts of the impending disaster raced through my mind. Of course, the biggest thought was "my wife is going to be REALLY mad!"

The rear came up and over, and suddenly, WHAM! The cage that protects any rear passengers slammed against a tree. For the next few moments (a lifetime when in this position) I kept thinking that this thing was going to fall sideways and it was really going to hurt.

The next thing I knew, I was facing the ground. My toolbox, which wasn't secured, was laying next to me on the windshield (no damage) and my Tuffy box had emptied itself all over the front of my Jeep. I cut the engine off and stayed motionless to see if it was going to finish it's destined fall. With nothing happening, I elected to get out….quickly!

Jody Cole Jody Cole

There's nothing more amazing than seeing your Jeep, with eight years of hard work and busted knuckles standing up in a tree. Of course, at this point, Ron and Matt were in amazement at the distance that my spare parts box had flown from the Jeep, which was about 50 feet, and both were laughing at the face that I made on my trip over.

Jody ColeWe stabilized the Jeep using Ron's Ramsey Platinum 9500. Once it was stable, we checked for body damage. The only damage was a minor tear in my top and a good bend in the rear cage. Not too bad. Then we needed an additional winch, however. The way the Jeep was standing, the only way to pull it down with one winch would have resulted in severe damage. I grabbed my trusty cell phone and called a friend and head gear doctor at Sam's Offroad. Luckily I caught him and explained the predicament. He said he was on his way. I then had to make the dreaded "honey I've done something wrong" call. I called her, told her to get with Matt's wife and bring a camera and that she just wouldn't believe what I did and that she would just have to see it to believe it. It's pretty hard to explain that your Jeep is up a tree, standing on its nose, but don't worry, there's no body damage!

By the time the cameras arrived, so did Mike. We used his Ramsey Platinum 9500 to secure a second angle to my Jeep via tree straps and snatch blocks. With the help of the two winches and one trusty hand winch, we got my Jeep down and out of the tree. There was minimal damage to the Jeep and a slight cut on my forehead from a plastic Mountain Dew bottle that Matt threw to me, yelling "heads". [Note to self: don't look up if you hear "heads!"] We headed home, feeling quite lucky and we had a great story. This is one fish that didn't get away.

This incident gave me a few points to remember. First and foremost, when going off-road, ALWAYS wear your seatbelt. Second, ALWAYS secure your gear. I was very lucky to not be thrown from the Jeep and just as lucky to not have been hit by the flying tool box and it's contents. Please be careful when you're on the trail and secure both yourself and your baggage.

Stay tuned for a full review on the Ramsey Wireless Winch Remote in our Tech section


Editor's Notes: We highly recommend carrying a tree strap in every vehicle that hits the trails. In some cases, a vehicle extraction may require more than one strap. Please make sure you have at least one in your rig and take care of the environment we 'wheel in. Remember to take care to protect any trees on the trails and to repair any trees you do damage. Please wear your seatbelts and/or harnesses at all times. You never know when you'll need them.

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