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Tree-climbing championship: Morton Arboretum

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The Morton Arboretum is hosting the 34th annual International Tree Climbing Championship July 24-25 in a stand of its majestic oaks in Lisle.

2009 Men's Champ Jared Abrojena #2 LOW REZ - courtesy The Davey Tree Expert Co.

OK, this stuff just fascinates me. That's Jared Abrojena, last year's winner courtesy of The Davey Tree Expert Co.

Here's the details and hype from the Arboretum:


Thrilling World Championships of Tree Climbing At The Morton Arboretum

LISLE, IL (July 12, 2010) - In the tree world's version of the Super Bowl, The Morton Arboretum hosts the 34th annual International Tree Climbing Championship (ITCC), July 24-25, in a stand of majestic oaks. Approximately 50 male and female arborists from 14 countries around the globe will demonstrate their profession's sophisticated and unique techniques as they vie to become world champions in their respective divisions. Additionally, there will be fun, family activities including a chance to climb trees like the professionals do. But these contestants from around the world will take center stage.

"These competitions take your breath away. The arborists use incredible speed and amazing balance to get up into and move throughout the tree safely," says Brian Malatia, Arboretum arborist.

This is not your childhood tree climbing. Lives can be at stake when these top-notch professionals ascend a tree. During an average workday, the arborists might have to
dangle 60 feet in the air - sometimes stretching so far that they're effectively horizontal to the ground - as they use remarkable skills in operating chain saws and carefully avoiding electrical lines. All this while trusting their ropes and harnesses will keep them aloft and secure. The competition's five, timed events reflect this difficulty and need for safety.

During "Aerial Rescue," climbers must retrieve and safely bring to the ground a 110-pound "Rescue Randy" dummy by going through all the steps that an arborist would
undertake in a real rescue, even simulating a 911 call prior to entering the tree.

In "Work Climb," contestants must travel to four "stations" in the tree and ring a bell. In "Secured Footlock" and "Belayed Speed Climb," climbers must ascend a rope 40 and 50
feet respectively within 60 seconds, and ring a bell. Contestants often complete this task
in only 16-20 seconds! In "Throwline," competitors must throw a rope and hit two of six
targets 35 feet to 60 feet high.

In each event the top three scorers are awarded medals and cash prizes. The top overall scorers advance to the Masters' Challenge Championship held on the second day of competition. The male and female winners of this round are named champions, and receive cash and other prizes.

International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) chapters around the world hold local
competitions. Winners advance to the international round. In addition to displaying their
professional climbing skills, "these arborists get an opportunity to learn about new
techniques and equipment from one another," says Jim Skiera, Executive Director of the ISA, which coordinates the competition.

The championships also introduce the public to these sophisticated tree climbing techniques. The "Recreational Tree Climb" provides a thrilling opportunity, free of charge, for visitors to climb a tree as the professionals do, with a harness and ropes. Also, the Arboretum and Illinois Arborist Association will present "Arbor Fair," featuring family-friendly activities that are enjoyable and educational. The climb and fair occur Saturday, July 24, from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

The competition and associated events are designed to give visitors a new perspective on trees and arborists, says Edith Makra, arborist and Arboretum Community Trees Advocate.

"We hope visitors come away from this event with a greater appreciation for trees and the people who care for them," she says.

The ITCC occurs in conjunction with the ISA International Conference and Trade Show in downtown Chicago, July 26-28. To learn more about ISA conferences or events
including the tree climbing competition, visit

The Morton Arboretum gratefully acknowledges ISA's competition sponsors: ITCC
Presenting sponsor - The Davey Tree Expert Co.; and ITCC Masters' Challenge
Championship sponsor - Husqvarna.

The Morton Arboretum is a world-renowned leader in tree science and education, working to save and plant trees. The 1,700-acre outdoor museum features magnificent collections of 4,117 kinds of trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world. The Arboretum's beautiful natural landscapes, gardens, research and education programs, and year-round family activities support its mission - the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. Conveniently located at I-88 and Rte. 53 in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, from 7 a.m. Central Time until sunset. The Children's Garden is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., March through October, and 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., November through February. Visit Press Room at, call to learn more.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on July 13, 2010 8:10 PM.

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