Thursday, December 6, 2007

International Tree Climbing Championship

Who doesn't like trees? Lots of children would love to win a prize for tree climbing, but some people actually do. The International Tree Climbing Championship (ITCC) is put on by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). This championship is one that is put on for a very practical purpose, because it is an event for tree care professionals around the world, and over 1,000 contestants participate at over 50 local competitions worldwide. The next championship will be in St. Louis, Missouri on July 26-27, 2008.

The International Tree Climbing Championship was initially started to preserve the classic skills that would prepare a climber equipped with nothing more than a rope to have the ability to save a life in an aerial rescue. The event's purpose has expanded to promote safe working practices, demonstrate innovations in equipment and techniques, and provide industry recognition, as well as to provide entertainment and education.

Practical Results
The ISA says the International Tree Climbing Championship has reinvented the tree climbing equipment and care industries by bringing the end users and the manufacturers toghether which has resulted in new inventions and products specifically designed for tree care. The event's strong focus on safety (most of the official rules focus on safety) has strengthened the safety standards of the industry in nearly every participating country.

How it Works
The championship has several events, each with a men's and a women's category, where participants are scored by judges. Contestents can earn points, bonus points, and penalty points. The scores from all events are added together and the top 5 men and the top 5 women go to the Master's Challenge. Essentially, the person with the highest combined score wins and becomes the Men's Champion or the Women's Champion.

Work Climb Event
The Work Climb tests the contestant’s ability to move about the tree using a tree-climbing rope and saddle. The contestant starts from a staging area in the tree and is required to visit five work stations throughout the tree, performing a specified task at each station. Work station events include: The Handsaw Station, The Limb Toss Station, The Pole Pruner Station, The Limb Walk Station, and The Landing Station.

Aerial Rescue Event
The Aerial Rescue event is a timed event that tests the contestant’s ability to climb to and safely lower a climber who is unable to descend without assistance. Prior to the event start, a judge tells the contenstant the 'situation.' The contestant must go up the tree and lower safely, efficiently, and carefully, an injured climber (a dummy) to the ground without excasterbating the situation, where an EMT with no climbing knowledge would perform an assessment if it were real life and not a competition. The dummy is between 20 and 25 feet above the ground.

Throwline Event
The Throwline is a timed event that tests the contestant’s ability to accurately place a throwline and climbing line in a tree at heights between approximately 40 and 60 feet (12 and 18 meters). The contestant attempts to toss a throwline through two of six targets (with unlimeted throws), which can be in single or multiple trees.

Belayed Speed Climb Event
The Speed Climb tests the contestant’s ability to climb a predetermined route from the ground to about 60 feet (18 meters) up a tree with a belayed climbing line attached for safety. The event is timed, and the contestant who reaches and rings the bell at the top of the course in the least amount of time wins.

Secured Footlock
The Secured Footlock measures the contestant’s ability to perform a vertical ascent into a tree using a Prusik hitch or other approved friction hitch for fall protection and the footlock rope-climbing method on a doubled climbing line. The heights are 15 meters (49 feet, 2.5 inches) for the men’s event and 12 meters (39 feet, 4.5 inches) for the women’s event. Mechanical ascenders may not be used. The event is timed, with a maximum time limit of 60 seconds, and the contestant with the fastest time wins.

Masters' Challenge
TheMasters’ Challenge is designed to judge the contestant’s overall productivity and skill with a rope and saddle in the tree. Contestants are judged and scored on their knowledge and their ability to demonstrate mastery of different climbing techniques, use of equipment, poise in the tree, and safe working practices. The contestant must perform a pre-climb inspection of the tree, install any necessary climbing and/or belay equipment, and then enter the tree. The contestant proceeds to three or four work stations in the tree. In some situations, a fourth station may be added to increase the difficulty of the climb and provide additional opportunity for the judges to assess the climber’s abilities. One of the stations is equipped with a plumb bob suspended from the limb. If the contestant puts too much weight on the limb, causing the plumb to drop and activate a buzzer, no points are earned for completing the task. A maximum time to complete the event is specified in advance. The climb is timed to assess overall productivity, but the Masters’ Challenge is not a speed event.

When I was on the Work Crew for the Hill Cumorah Pageant in 2000, the work crew leader was a tree surgeon from Conneticut. He knew all sorts of knots and knew how to work lots of different types of machinery. I thought it was interesting that someone could become a tree surgeon, but I'm glad they are around to work on our trees.

International Tree Climbing Championship

No comments: