Do you remember the first time you really climbed a tree? With all the gear, the ropes, and the excitement? Do you remember that feeling of finally having that freedom in the canopy? Those are the things that made me a tree climber. Those are the things that make me keep coming back every day.
I started doing tree work the same as most other climbers, on the ground. I showed up on the job site and was told to grab brush and drag it to the chipper. I was working with a line clearance company that had great equipment and good guys to work with. I soon learned there was actually a correct way to drag brush and to stack brush. Once this lesson was learned, I obviously knew everything there was to know about tree work.
Soon came the lessons of when to grab brush from under the tree and when not to. Then the great lesson of how to close the “quick” gas caps on the Stihl trim saws. This lesson included yelling, swearing, and copious amounts of bar oil on my crew leaders new pants. Again, after these lessons, I knew everything I needed to know and felt I should be climbing. I’m sure most climbers have gone through a process similar to this. From working with other beginning climbers and now as a trainer, I tend to see a pattern that almost everyone thinks their job is harder and that everyone else’s job is easier. Don’t get me wrong, dragging brush is no easy task, but it also doesn’t come with the same amount of responsibility as climbing.
So there I am, thinking I am working harder than everyone else when out of no where my crew leader says the fateful words “ Hey kid, you wanna climb this one?”
I remember as a kid standing at a garage sale in the middle of summer. I wanted a bag of GI Joes more than anything and my mother was not giving in to my whining and begging. After quite the explanation of exactly why I needed them and how I would work to pay for them she gave in and bought them for me. I remember quite vividly getting this feeling in my stomach that I can only describe today as feeling whole. I felt complete that I had put in such an effort and that I stated my case and I had been rewarded.
This is the exact same feeling I felt as I stepped into the saddle, as I felt the huge 5/8ths three strand buck strap. I remember feeling that same feeling as I climbed the ladder to the whopping height of 14 feet. I remember going home and telling my wife how awesome it was to get to climb. I may not have climbed high by any means but I had worked dragging brush and learning everything I could until I was allowed to finally climb. At that moment I felt whole. This is exactly what keeps me coming back to climbing and makes me love what I do.
Do you remember the first time you climbed? The first time your feet came off the ground and you felt the sway of the tree? This is what makes us who we are.