On Saturday, October 19, Kentucky Arborists Association held its Tree Climbing Championship on the University of Kentucky’s campus. In attendance and competing were skilled arborists from all around the country. Blessed with nearly perfect weather for the competitors, the sun was shining, it was a little bit on the cool side, and there was little to no wind—Perfect!
This event is held annually, most often in Louisville or Lexington, and enables our arborists a chance to shine and show off their skills in the trees. This year’s Championship event consisted of five different “stations”; i.e., five different trees, plus a “station” for the Kid’s Climb. The trees were Oaks, a Baldcypress, and a beautiful old Sycamore. In each of these trees, there was a different task to complete. There was an aerial rescue event, where the competitor had to ascend into the tree from the ground, communicate with EMTs, and attend to and lower the “unconscious” dummy out of the tree, all within a set amount of time! In one of the Pin Oaks, volunteers had set throughout the tree five bells, which the competitors had to ring on the way back down, all while not doing any damage to the limbs and in a set amount of time! Even the best of the climbers had trouble with this one! The Baldcypress was used to showcase a climber’s speed and agility in going up a tree, safely of course, and ringing a bell that had been set about 60’ up. Very exciting to watch these competitors and their amazing skills.
The old Sycamore was used to host the finalists of the competition. Scores were based on the amount of time it took for the finalist to ascend into the tree, get to stations within the tree throughout, and then descend. All the Event’s participators–both men and women–were very adept, and it was quite obvious to all that they have a true passion for this vocation. For those of us who did not compete, there were volunteers, family, friends, and passers-by just interested at watching. Each station had up to six volunteers. Consisting of judges, runners, and those arborists who remained in the trees in order to reset between competitors, each station was a veritable hive of activity. Add to that those of us on the ground, shouting encouragements and clapping when they completed a climb, the event was exciting and full of energy and goodwill! At the tree hosting the Kid’s Climb, there were three arborists on hand to guide the children who ranged in age from four, up to a “big kid” of 24 who by the way had never climbed a tree and was eager to “try it out”. The three arborists were very knowledgeable and gentle, and they took the time needed for each child to be comfortable and secure, all while instructing how to be safe while having a good time. They, along with all of the volunteers, are to be applauded!
Bob Ray Co., Inc.’s Ralph Koons competed for the first time in Kentucky’s
Championship event. “I had a great time and although I didn’t finish as well as I
would have liked, I was competing against some superb climbers and athletes,” Koons
said. “I’ll just have to practice and prepare for next year!”
See everyone next year!