A Climber's Thoughts on the Bartlett Open House
The main thing about Bartlett that stands out to me as a climber is their willingness to give back to the climbing community through donations, gear giveaways, and most of all'educational support.
I remember when I first started climbing. I was new to the industry and I had no idea where to start. I knew I wanted to learn more about gear, configurations, work practices but I had no idea where I could go to see these things in action.
Of course, there are resources available online and great books which I did spend some time with, but nothing is like the real thing--learning from professionals in your own field and being able to watch their techniques in person. That's why I have been attending the Bartlett Open House every year since they started holding them five years ago.
Regardless if you are a new or seasoned climber, FREE education is hard to come by. The fact that the Bartlett Open House has been free all these years is practically unheard of. Over the years at the open house I've seen demos on aerial rescue, plant healthcare, rigging, SRT, the newest products, and the progression of climbing systems. The rigging was performed on an actual tree that they had brought into the site and supported with a giant tree stand. Seeing how things would react on a real tree instead of a diagram on a chalkboard was so beneficial for me--and anyone else who considers themselves a hands-on learner. Another impressive demo was the speed line and redirecting rigging forces class I sat in on, where they again brought a real tree limb into their shop and suspended it for the most real life visual we could get while teaching indoors.
Another benefit to attending the Bartlett Open House is that they have suspended ropes with the newest gear and system displayed. If you want to try on a saddle, feel the latest zig zag in your hands, grasp the concept of SRT, it's all there in front of you taught by people who do tree work every single day.
Along with education there is always a great sense of community. I've been able to network with people from several different states, and even countries, thanks to the Bartlett Open House. It's a space where climbers and arborists come together to share stories, learn, ask questions, and gain insight into things that make our jobs more productive and safer. I'm personally thankful they push safety first, so I know whatever I am learning is going to be something that is tested, tried, and true, while still being innovative.
In May 2019, the format was a little different. The event shifted from being two shorter days with scheduled classes--to a single longer day with an open drop-in so people could come in and learn about whatever they personally were interested in most. There were several Bartlett climbers weaving through the gear and crowd to make sure our questions were answered. Both set-ups have been great but this year I truly felt like I was dropping in to just talk shop and trees with my friends. There's never a time where you feel too intimidated or uneducated to ask any level question. Just by sharing stories, you can learn so much from others attending.
The owners of Bartlett Arborist Supply also own a tree service company who have expanded over the years. It all started with a young guy, his pickup truck and chainsaw. It's inspiring and humbling to see the faces behind the company. They do so well at putting on events like these because they are truly just like the people attending them. They know what it's like to work hard, long hours, endless days, get dirty, and sweat. These guys have come from a time with almost no gear, to watching the industry evolve into the progressive and unimaginable state that it's in. They truly are brilliant business people, so there's so much to learn from that, but they are also recognized climbers, as one of the owners has competed in a Master's Challenge at his state level. Their wives and kids are now involved in a lot that they do and I personally like knowing who I am supporting when I purchase my gear. It's not just a brand, it's a family who has worked very hard to grow to where they are and give back to those of us who are where they once were. It's an awesome cycle that I am thankful to be a part of and I look forward to the Bartlett Open House every year because of it.