A Beginner’s Guide to Tree Climbing

Tree climbing is an outdoor activity that allows you to enjoy nature. This makes it the perfect activity if you’re tired of staying indoors, but you’ll need to start by finding a safe park outside with some fascinating trees and start practicing tree climbing.

In addition, tree climbing is a good way of exploring varying landscapes and keeping fit. If you can still remember your childhood memories, then you understand the fun that comes with tree climbing.

Tree climbing has become incredibly advanced with its increased popularity—now it’s done with ropes and harnesses. However, managing to reach the highest point remains competitive. If you have no climbing experience, you may enroll in a training course before venturing into tree climbing. The course will enlighten you more about the tools required for tree climbing to guarantee your safety. You’ll also get the needed guidance and advice concerning the best trees for climbing and what kind of knots to tie.

Continue reading this beginner’s guide to familiarize yourself with everything about tree climbing.

Definition Of Tree Climbing

Tree climbing refers to making your way to the tree and exploring it using a harness and rope. This activity started in the 19th century and was first initiated by tree surgeons in the United States, who later made it part of their daily activity. In 1980, tree climbing became a practical requirement and a recreational activity.

tree climbing

History Of Tree Climbing

There weren’t many inventions regarding tree climbing because the arborist community perfected it into a sport.

In 1983, a tree climbing school, Tree Climbers International, was founded by American arborist Peter Jenkins. This school initiated a universal safety guideline for climbing trees when sporting.

During this time, arborists continued to develop their craft into a recreational activity while maintaining their duty of preserving the environment.

Later, the Global Organization of Tree Climbers was founded in 2007 to promote safe recreational tree climbing globally.

How To Climb A Tree

If you’re an inexperienced tree climber, you should start by taking a training course because tree climbing falls can be devastating to your overall well-being. With this in mind, you need to get the right gear, such as spikes, when partaking in this outdoor recreational activity. Besides learning to use climbing tools, you should also follow safety regulations. This activity doesn’t have an age limit regarding who can join. If you’re a pro who understands better how to use harnesses, carabiners, and ropes, the following are excellent tips for tree climbing.

Begin by selecting a tree you wish to climb and ensure it’s sturdy and healthy within your ability. After that, examine the branches where you’re considering looping the rope. The branches should have the ability to withstand your weight. This means they should have at least a diameter of 6 inches. You must also be on the lookout to ensure no possible hazards are around the tree, like animal nests and power cables. You can use a variety of techniques when climbing a tree. Luckily, the two popular techniques are easy to learn:

1. Single rope technique

This challenging technique requires you to have multiple climbing equipment. When using this technique, you need to anchor your rope to the base of the tree or a branch and use equipment like pulleys to loop your rope. It is physically demanding because it requires you to use your legs more.

2. Double rope technique

The double rope technique requires you to use a throw bag, haul a line on a safe branch, and allow the rope to loop over it. After this, find the rope ends and tie several climbing knots. This will enable you to ascend and descend from the tree. The primary knot utilized in the double rope technique is the Blake hitch. This type of knot assists you in stopping your movements and holding ropes securely to allow you to enjoy a fantastic view from mid-air.

Lastly, tree climbing equipment is vital because it guarantees your safety during a tree climbing adventure. If you have climbing gear, check it regularly to ensure it’s in perfect shape and store it safely to avoid unnecessary damage. Before climbing a tree, ensure your entire tools are working to prevent issues when you are almost halfway through your adventure.


Safety Tips To Observe During Tree Climbing

Before you start tree climbing, here are a few best practice tips you must implement to ensure you climb trees safely:

Check whether the tree is safe to climb

Check out the roots of the tree you want to climb. Find another tree if they are not in good shape. Avoid the tree if you notice fungus or mushrooms are close or growing on the tree trunk. Additionally, if the tree’s trunk has splits and cracks, missing chunks on the trunk’s bark, and narrow cavities, avoid climbing that tree, too. A good tree for climbing doesn’t have such characteristics and shouldn’t also be leaning.

Find out the species of the tree you want to climb

Before you go for a tree climbing adventure, remember to consider the species of the tree you want to climb because some trees are excellent for climbing while others are not. Maples and hardwood are credible for climbing. They are primarily found in parks and fields. Other trees you might consider for tree climbing include oaks, mulberries, and elms. Most tree climbers avoid conifers unless they have big branches and white pines because their branches are brittle and sappy.

tree climbing in wood

Consider preparation and safety

You might be a pro in tree climbing, but ensure you hydrate, stretch, and warm up before you start. Professionals can agree that tree climbing is physically demanding, so you need to prepare before you commence climbing. When looking for a tree to climb, aim for a healthy, sturdy, full-grown tree with large branches to withstand your weight. Avoid trees with dry branches. If possible, avoid climbing up to the top of the tree because multiple trees are usually unstable when you reach tall heights. This means they might not support your weight safely.

Consider the climbing techniques

The climbing technique you choose will help you enjoy your tree climbing adventure. Hence, find a sturdy foothold to start your climb incredibly. You can make this achievable by using a knot or a smaller branch. If you notice there are no footholds, get ready to jump. Furthermore, use your legs and core to maneuver from one branch to another. This is easier than using your arms.

Descend the same way you ascended

When descending, use the same path you took when ascending. In most cases, the branch you used to ascend is also sturdy enough to allow you to get down safely. Don’t be in a hurry to descend because you must be careful and intentional to get down safely.

Tree Climbing Equipment

You need tree climbing equipment to climb a tree safely. Here’s a look at some of the crucial tree climbing equipment you need to invest in to guarantee your safety:

climbing on tree

Climbing rope

The thickness of your climbing rope should be 9.5-11 mm, long enough from the point of attachment to the ground. When purchasing this rope, choose one with a high rating for factor fall. This factor usually indicates how long you can securely use your rope before buying another one. Remember that static ropes are for rescue work and a few kinds of climbing.

However, avoid using it as your tree climbing rope as it lacks elasticity and can cause serious injuries, unlike dynamic ropes.

Gloves

Invest in gloves because they offer you extra grip when using the rope and climbing trees. They also safeguard your hands against trees’ wood splinters and rope burns.

Prusik

This is a friction hitch used while on the climbing rope to adjust your position. Prusik allows you to ascend and get down the tree safely.

Harness

Harness falls among the essential equipment because it protects you should you fall from a tree. Make sure you buy a secure and comfortable one, which shouldn’t be heavy or restrictive. Similarly, it should have comfort features, a rope-holding capacity, be safe, easy to adjust, comfortable, and fully adjustable.

Helmet

The helmet protects your head, but ensure you choose a lighter one so you can climb with lesser weight in your body.

Carabiners

These attach you to the tree and the rope. Lighter carabiners are perfect for hauling gears you might be carrying, while heavy-duty carabiners incorporating locks attach your climbing rope to the harness.

Rules and Regulations

Here are a few tree climbing rules and regulations:
  • Respect trees and avoid pruning them needlessly.
  • Ensure your saddle and harness fit comfortably.
  • Wear your helmet.
  • Ensure you have a reliable safety line.
  • Inspect your area of tree climbing to avoid any danger, such as dead branches and power cables.

Takeaway

Tree climbing is a great activity that allows you to explore nature and keep fit. This recreational activity requires you to have varying skills. Thus, if you’re a beginner, it's good to start by taking a training course to become an experienced tree climber and be able to participate in competitions. With the guidelines discussed here, there is no doubt you will enjoy your tree climbing adventure.

Author - Olivia Poglianich
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olivia Poglianich          

Content Strategist

Olivia Poglianich is a nomadic brand strategist and copywriter in the wooden crafts and 3D product design space who has worked with brands such as Visa, Disney and Grey Goose. Her writing has taken her all over the world, from a Serbian music festival to a Malaysian art and culture event. Olivia is a graduate of Cornell University and is often writing or reading about travel, hospitality, the start-up ecosystem or career coaching. Her latest interests are at the intersection of web3 and communal living, both on and offline.

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