Awesome Men (and Women) in TreesSkills On Display In Tree Climbing Championship Fun To Watch; Can Save Lives
LISLE, IL (May 22, 2008) – Like magicians who seem to defy gravity, professional arborists seem to put almost no weight on branches as they use sophisticated techniques with ropes and other equipment to climb trees. These arborists display their remarkable skills and speed in a unique event: the Illinois Tree Climbing Championship at The Morton Arboretum, June 7, from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
“It’s amazing when you watch it. I get all excited seeing how fast they can get up a tree. It’s just like they’re taking a ladder up, and not a rope,” says April Toney, Illinois Arborist Association (IAA) spokeswoman.
Up to 30 professional tree climbers – mostly IAA members – will vie for the first place prizes of $1,000 in climbing gear and all-expense paid trips to St. Louis for their version of the Super Bowl: the international championships July 26 and 27. Men and women compete in separate divisions.
Skills on display in this championship are not only fun to watch, but are also serious business, and safety is job-one. IAA President-elect Norm Hall recalls a situation approximately two years ago when two brothers had attended an aerial rescue class for professional arborists, and one had to use his knowledge just two weeks later, in Central Illinois.
“One brother was in a tree, nicked his wrist with the chain saw, and was bleeding profusely from the artery. He could not get himself down. The other brother went up and rescued him,” Hall says.
Indeed, a simulated rescue is one of five, timed events that each climber must successfully complete in the competition by climbing, running and jumping in the Arboretum Oak Collection.
During “Aerial Rescue,” climbers must retrieve and safely bring to the ground a 110-pound “Rescue Randy” dummy by going through all the steps that an arborist would undertake in a real rescue – even simulating a 911 call prior to entering the tree!
In “Work Climb,” contestants must travel to four “stations” in the tree and ring a bell. In “Secured Footlock” and “Belayed Speed Climb,” climbers must ascend a rope 40- and 50-feet respectively within 60-seconds, and ring a bell. Contestants often complete this task in only 16-20 seconds! In “Throwline,” competitors must throw a rope and hit two of six targets 35-feet to 60-feet high.
The top 4 male finishers proceed immediately to the Master’s Challenge, which combines three or four of the earlier events into one final competition. The event is scored on safety, tree entry, fluidness and skill, and must be completed in 20-minutes.
Additionally, there is a “corporate challenge” in which three to five contestants from a company compete against a group from one or more other companies. The winning company gets its name on a large “cup” which circulates year after year, much like the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup.
“We hope visitors come away from this event with a greater appreciation for trees, and the people who care for them,” Hall says.
The Morton Arboretum is an internationally recognized 1,700-acre outdoor museum with collections of 4,117 kinds of trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world. The Arboretum's beautiful natural landscapes, gardens, research and education programs, and year-round family activities support its mission – the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. Conveniently located at I-88 and Rte. 53 in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time or sunset, whichever is earlier. The Children's Garden is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., March through October, and 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., November through February. Visit www.mortonarb.org or call 630-968-0074 to learn more.