Interview with Dominic Gutierrez of Team Bartlett
Bartlett: Let’s start by you telling everyone a little bit about yourself. Who are you outside of tree work?
Dominic: I’m a Father of one beautiful and smart daughter, and a newlywed husband. I’m very active with my family and tree work. I have hobbies like rock climbing, camping, anything having to do with the outdoors!
Bartlett: Now let’s talk about who you are and how you are involved in the tree world. What’s your day to day look like at work, what do you do?
Dominic: I’m currently involved with the line side of tree work. I try and take into consideration what needs to be cleared and the proper pruning cuts while trimming, as well as keeping the residents happy and the trees as healthy as possible. I have done a lot of climbing since I started tree work at the end of 2016, but I’m slowly transitioning into more bucket work which is a whole other spectrum of trimming!
Bartlett: It’s obvious how much you have evolved since when you first started working with trees, the most obvious was you becoming the 2017 Michigan Tree Climbing Champion! What got you interested in climbing trees competitively?
Dominic: I had heard that our local union puts on a Local Tree Climbing Competition for everyone in the union. You had two options, help with setup and working the competition or climb in it. I figured what did I have to lose? (Plus I secretly wanted to know how I stacked up against other union brothers) And after placing third my first year I was addicted. The atmosphere, everyone being so helpful, the knowledge you gain from everyone collectively coming together to talk about tree climbing was an electric experience. That competition pushed me forward to MTCC, which was the same experience, only this time it was even greater. Little did I know how well I would climb that day.
Bartlett: For others interested in taking their climbing to that next level, where do you recommend they start? How did you start learning about more new age gear and climbing techniques?
Dominic: I was introduced to it pretty early on in my career. I had a lot of really great guys helping me out on a day to day basis, pushing me to climb higher/farther out on that 50 ft limb, which then got me involved with SRT or SRS, which is a whole new way of climbing, with new rope angles, redirects, and taking the friction with you! For those ready to take the next step I would talk with your local tree groups/peeps! There is also a lot of other great informational videos out there to help you climb safe! Check some out on the Bartlett online store!
Bartlett: We’ve often heard a lot of people assume if you compete competitively that you don’t do “real tree work” every day, and your days are spent rec climbing and preparing for the competition, which you and I both know is not AT ALL true. How did you prep?
Dominic: I wish that was the case. Haha. Line side tree work we do mostly one sided trees, so I would try and go for the bigger, more wide spread canopy to help reenact the work climb. Long limb walks over and over all day really helped with that. Hand throwing my tie ins daily really helped as well. After I had my rope set I would practice scaling the tree as quickly as possible while maintaining safety. Outside of work I would set a lower tie in in a tree in my front yard, and just practice setting up my system as quickly as possible. Mostly, I would just try and find fun little ways I could alter my day to day climbing to progressively help in aspects of the Tree Climbing Competition.
Bartlett: We know the tree world in general is a great community, but it seems like the Competitive Climbers really create an open space to learn, grow, and experiment with new techniques in a safe way. What’s been your biggest take away from being a part of that community?
Dominic: Meeting all these great climbers out there. When I first joined the community I was very green, nervous, and had no idea what to expect. A great, growing community that accepted me with open arms right from the start was a big factor. It gave me another view on climbing, do’s and dont’s, and tips to help you move fluidly through the tree. After that first competition, it gave me more confidence not only in my abilities, but to give me that push to take it to the next level.
Bartlett: We’re really thankful to now have you be a part of Team Bartlett, traveling to shows with us across the country and helping at events. How does it feel to now be giving back to your community and helping educate them?
Dominic: It’s fantastic honestly. To help people solve issues they have had climbing for months or even years, just by simply having a conversation with them. Giving them a gear demo, and just sharing the knowledge! Honestly my favorite part is when people walk in confused or with a problem and we are able to help them walk out of our booth confident and ready to climb safely.
Bartlett: For those reading this that hope to enter into tree work what’s your biggest piece of advice for them when starting out, because we all know this line of work can be a little intimidating but at the same time really exciting!
Dominic: Don't be afraid to put yourself out there!
It can be a little intimidating from the outside looking in but it’s a great community! It’s okay to be afraid too. Just don’t let that hold you back. I honestly was terrified of heights before I got into tree work! I pushed past it, and now I love getting that high tie in for those rope angles!
Bartlett: So what are your future plans? What are you most looking forward to right now?
Dominic: It’s been a crazy year, I’m mostly looking forward to getting back to the new “normal”. Our state hasn’t fully opened back up yet so I’ve really been itching to rock climb again. But with a growing family it’s safe to say I’ve had my hands full. As for now, I’m really loving my day to day. Working with Bartlett has just been incredible, and hopefully we are able to get back on the road again soon to help the tree community grow!
Bartlett: Thanks for taking the time to tell us and everyone else a little bit more about yourself! Stay safe out there and we hope everyone can catch up with you in person at the Bartlett booth soon!