The Bartlett Interview: Dan Thornton

Posted by Professional Tree Climber on 5/31/2018 to Tree Climbing Gear
The Bartlett Interview: Dan Thornton

So we did an interview with some climbers that we are friends with a couple weeks ago. We pretty much just asked them some basic questions to see how they felt about the industry, climbing gear, any tree climbing tips they may have, and what keeps them going every single day! Our first interview is with Dan Thornton, who, if any of you have been to MTCC (Michigan Tree Climbing Championships) you’ve probably met him or talked to him behind the tape of some of the events or threw a disc around after the comp in the parking lot. Dan has always been willing to come help out with volunteer projects and is a great worker that is starting to make a name for himself in the industry. We were super happy to meet up with him and get his thoughts on what he sees going on in the tree industry! So here we go!


Bartlett:

Can you state your name, how long you’ve been involved in the industry and what some of your thoughts are about tree work?


Dan:

My name is Dan Thornton, I’ve been involved in the industry since 2013. I’m trying to think how to word this… the industry is rewarding! Whether you are dead wooding a tree or you’re bucking wood out of a tree or you’re doing any kind of advanced rigging, the end piece and the end result is rewarding. Even if it’s just rec climbing or learning something new, I find every bit of it rewarding.


Bartlett:

What do you enjoy most? Do you like climbing? Rigging? Bucket work? Utility work?


Dan:

I would say that I enjoy the climbing aspect over the bucket work. What I enjoy most about it is, I guess I would say working with rope angles. I’m still learning, but moving on rope is pretty awesome. It’s also pretty interesting when rigging to get limbs to walk around, watching your hinge wood, or working a limb into your rigging point. Even stuff like making limbs come out balanced and seeing all the things you can do while working with a rope and a block and some tension is pretty awesome!.


Bartlett:

You have been involved with some tree climbing competitions through volunteering. What is your say on climbing competitions and why do you get involved with them? What do you enjoy about them? What would you say to someone wanting to get involved in them?


Dan:

My first ever involvement in a tree climbing comp was TREE-JAM-CAMP. I volunteered through people asking me if I’d be interested. I went mainly because at the time I was basically on a closed system, doubled rope system and I figured I could see how the progression in the industry was going and where I could fit into that. And honestly, the reason that I continue to volunteer is because of all the people I met there. The first people I met, that I had never even heard their names before, and then to come to find out, they were international level competitors but were humble right to my face and spoke to me as a peer, was pretty eye opening.



Bartlett:

Do you feel that you find that more in tree climbing competitions than in other competition level type of people? Do you think that the tree world is more humble?


Dan:

You know, I haven’t competed in anything since Army physical fitness tests or way back to when I skateboarded in high school. We were pretty “to ourselves” on what we were going to do or what line we were going to take or how much time we had. I feel like in the tree industry and the competition world that people are more willing to share the knowledge and the advantage that you may have found while climbing (competing), because you would like to see someone else push you that much further. If you can share some knowledge that will help someone else be two seconds faster, and you taught it to them, then they can push you to be three seconds faster the next time. You are advancing your competition, which is advancing you to be a better climber. There is no reason you would want to keep it to yourself and then you are the only one that will be that fast. That’s not the point.


Bartlett:

With wanting to advance other people’s climbing, what is a simple tree climbing tip that you can offer to someone that is just starting out in the industry?


Dan:

Just like everyone else says, low and slow. Listen to what people tell you, but be willing to question it. Questioning it doesn’t always mean that you don’t understand it, but it’s a means to understanding it. If someone is telling you that something will work, ask them why so that you fully understand it. And…..Always wake up to be a better person than you were the day before.


Bartlett:

So you have started getting involved with a bit of training. how do you feel training others? What are your feelings on your first time teaching a workshop? Do you feel that people were receptive?


Dan:

I feel that training others is going to make you that much more proficient in your craft because it will allow you to see all your faults that you have in your ability as a person or in your ability to teach. So if you have a method of doing something, someone in the training might have a better way of doing and you can grow from that which can help you self reflect on the fact that you could be doing something a different way. Also, when you are teaching others, you have to be on point because you don’t want to teach someone the wrong thing or misinform anyone. I think your ability to train or sideline and help others train is a great way to make yourself into a great ambassador to the trade.


Bartlett:

What is one of your favorite memories of climbing trees, whether it is climbing as a child or since you’ve started climbing professionally?


Dan:

I remember growing up in an apartment complex with a tree that we would climb and we would jump from limb to limb not even realizing, that now, jumping from limb to limb is my daily job!


Bartlett:

Isn’t that unbelievable that you get to do stuff like that for a job? Lol.


Dan:

It is, but it reminds me to be ever thankful to the people that got me involved in this trade, my brother and my step dad, who showed me this trade is something to take pride in and not just use it to make a paycheck.

Thanks for taking the time with us Dan! The information and knowledge you shared will surely help motivate more and more people each day in their climbing and their pursuit to follow what they love doing… climbing trees!

If you’d like to be the feature of one of our interviews, please let us know in the comments below. We’d love to share your story and any tree climbing tips you may have to share with our readers!

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