Tree climbing is a commercial or recreational activity consisting of ascending and moving around in the crown of a tree. The use of ropes, helmet, and harness are the minimum requirements to ensure the safety of the climber although other equipment might also be used depending on the experience and skill of the tree climber. Tree climbing is an “on rope” activity that combines a mixture of techniques and gear principally derived from rock climbing, sailing and caving. Each tree is an individual living, breathing organism and no two trees are exactly the same.
Tree climbing as an industry
From our early roots as children who go tree climbing, we have become an industry that cares for trees and ensures the safety and good management of trees.
This industry is called Arboriculture and is classed as an “at height” industry. Aspects of this job may include visual inspections and assessments of potential hazards, removal of dead, dying, diseased wood, crown thinning to allow light and wind to pass through more freely, weight reduction to prevent breakages in wind, and the complete removal of trees using tree rigging, cranes and helicopters.
Tree climbing as a profession is a growing industry and attracts a wide range of people to it. In its very early days it followed the lead of forestry but is now finding its feet as a standalone industry. Tree climbing enables people to work outside rain or shine, have a sense of working with a team (work usually involves climbers and ground staff), work with risk factors that are controlled by using correct techniques, and get satisfaction from seeing a job well done.
Tree climbing for tree care
Arborism is not also just a profession for cutting trees. It is now also widely used for animal rescues, specimen research and canopy research. With the planet’s forests disappearing at an aggressive rate, more and more research facilities are looking to explore the canopies of ancient trees for knowledge of their ecosystems, for new life and for medicinal breakthroughs, as a whole world lives above us that is still relatively unknown to the grounded world.
Tree climbing for fun
Tree climbing is now also becoming a common hobby for people around the world. It is a chance to re-awaken the inner child who climbed trees as a youngster. With the advent of tree hammocks such as ‘treeboats’ and ‘portaledges’ it is not uncommon for people to spend nights sleeping up in the canopies of trees, swaying with the trees’ movements and immersing themselves in nature. It is more akin to rock climbing in this fashion and without the rules and regulations of the commercial tree worker – the arborist.
It must be remembered though that tree climbing can be a hazardous pastime and career and is not without risk. Trees are not manmade structures and cannot be certified and tested; it takes training and experience to minimize the risks associated with tree climbing. Trees do fail and branches do break but a thorough understanding of tree dynamics can allow a competent person to see the dangers before they happen.
Tree climbing for our home and planet
From an ecological perspective, trees are one of the most diverse things on the planet and tree climbing is the only way for us to truly experience it and learn about what we can do to help them. From a lifestyle perspective trees can keep our houses cool in summer and warm in winter but this requires maintenance by professional arborists to ensure no hazards are allowed to cause physical or financial damage.
Hitch Climbers Guide to The Canopy (Treemagineers)
A Cambium Saver is an Annoying Thing (Andreas Ross)
The Tree Climber’s Anchor Point (Andreas Ross)
Using the Hitch Climber for work positioning (Andreas Ross)