I was just wondering if anyone had tips for cutting back the very old, very thick and dense tangle of clematis stems on a pergola. I started a job using a hedgecutter and it was just too tangled and tightly packed despite the individual stems being thin, and the hedgecutter was getting stuck in it all. I ended up pruning the denser bits with secateurs because I couldn't see another way to get through the tangle and after 4 sacks of rubbish removed had to move on to another job with a promise to return. There's still loads of it left and now I'm dreading going back there as I don't feel like I have the right tool for the job.
I was wondering whether a powered saw might be the way to go - ie not a chain saw which frankly may be overkill and could end up cutting into the wooden pergola pretty easily. This is also close work due to the position of this pergola on an elevated section of garden next to some steps and a channel path which is a lot lower than the garden level as the house has a basement. So I can only reach it all by being pretty close to it.
I wondered if a powered wood saw or pruning saw might be the right thing but don't want to go to that expense if it's not going to be useful there and in other places as well. I don't just want to use a hand saw as it'll take too long and become ridiculously expensive for the client, as well as very annoying and tiring for me.
The clematis is an autumn/winter flowering type by the way, probably cirrhosa, with stems that are nowhere near as beefy as an armandii or a montana.