Tree Climbing : The Sport

Apr 5, 2011


The simple joy of climbing a tree – an activity all of us have enjoyed at some time, although perhaps not for many years.

Unless, like Peter King, you are a card carrying member of Tree Climbers International.

Until today, I was unaware that tree climbing is an official sport.

Wikipedia tells us that:

Tree climbing as an organised recreational activity using modern climbing equipment emerged in the early 1980s in USA. In 1983, Peter “Treeman” Jenkins, an active arborist and retired rock climber, founded Tree Climbers International, Inc. and opened the world’s first tree climbing school in Atlanta, Georgia USA. TCI eventually developed written safety and training rules for tree climbing which are used to this day. Now there are numerous organizations promote tree climbing around the world (Japan, USA, France, UK, Canada, Taiwan, Australia, Indonesia, China etc.).

Peter King is a member of Tree Climbers International (Australia). He showed me where Treeman Jenkings has signed his membership card.

Peter points out that tree climbing combines physical fitness, problem solving skills, team work, adrenaline, contact with nature –  and you get to use some pretty cool gear.

Special climbing techniques and equipment have been developed that make tree climbing safe. TCI says that tree climbing done according to their rules is safer than walking across the street. In fact, since the formation of the club in 1983 no participants have been injured (except for crossing the street to get to the tree, perhaps)

Once upon a time, you and I would have used the technique of ‘free solo climbing’, (without knowing it by that name.) Organised tree climbers use ‘single rope’ or ‘double rope’ techniques so that they can belay themselves using a system of friction hitches (ie if they fall a rope will catch them).

Peter and his clubmates are always on the look out for really high trees to climb. Working out the best path to the top of a new tree gives similar satisfaction to solving a difficult puzzle. 

Thanks for the photos, Peter. I’m still considering whether to join you and Simon next time you’re out. Perhaps we could start with this tree



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