Tree climbing competitions are a great way for the new climber or the seasoned veteran to gain skills and knowledge in one easy and entertaining package. Most climbing comps are held in beautiful parks throughout the country which try to highlight the areas’ specimen trees. Held throughout the warmer months, these events are great for families and any tree person to enjoy spending the day amongst friends.
The day is filled with five events that challenge even the best climbers. Events like the work climb, which involves a climber moving to different stations throughout the tree and ringing bells within the specified timeline, keep everyone on their toes while spectating. For those looking for the fastest climber there is the belayed speed climb or footlock which both involve either ascending a tree or a rope as fast as possible. The world record footlock time for a 49.25" ascent is just over 13 seconds! For climbers more interested in the technical side of things is the aerial rescue event which presents the climber with an injured climber trapped aloft in a tree. The climbers must then ascend an access line and move to the victim and safely lower them to the ground. Lastly, is the throwline event that really puts the climbers accuracy to the test. The climber must throw a throwline through designated unions in two trees and pull a rope through to be scored.
As you can see all of these events highlight things we, as climbers, do in our everyday work practices. By getting involved in these competitions, spectators or climbers can hone their skills and pick up multiple techniques that they may have never been able to see within their own companies. With climbers traveling from far and wide to climb, the amount of knowledge at each event is priceless. Climbers from one state or region may use techniques completely different from your go-to technique.
By getting involved in these competitions climbers can also network with other climbers to form a spiderweb of rope and throwline that keeps us all connected. Climbers that are willing to travel can easily meet others that are looking for help. Every time a climbing competition takes place more and more climbers become connected making each comp more like a family reunion than a competition.
When looking at other major sports, each competitor is against each competitor. One major difference with climbing comps is the amount of camaraderie that takes place. Maybe it takes two more steps out that limb to hit the target at the ground and you can be sure that fellow climbers will be sure to warn you so you can get all the points. Opposed to tree services not even waving at each other while working in the same area, climbers at comps are giving their competitors tips that will allow them the opportunity of beating them!
Besides the camaraderie, the knowledge, the skills, and the family there is also a ton of gear! Every week there are new pieces of gear being added to climber's kits and a great place to see all this new stuff in action is at a climbing comp. If you have questions about a new piece that you want to add to your personal gear bag you can be sure that there will either be a vendor or a climber willing to help you out and answer any question you may have.
The next time you see a climbing comp in your area be sure to check it out and cheer on the competitors. Go and ask questions, bring your family, and get involved. The best way to gain knowledge and skill is to get out there and get your hands dirty.