Arborlink provides high quality gear and professional advice to help arborists get their work done safely and easily. But of course, tree climbing can also be a purely recreational pursuit! We’ve got some quick tips to make sure you choose the right tree when you go climbing for fun.
The thrill of climbing higher and higher, branch by branch, is unmatchable. But whether you’re climbing recreationally or professionally, you will need to possess the right equipment, adequate knowledge, and the skill to climb and descend safely.
One important factor in safe tree climbing is choosing the right tree. When it comes to proper tree selection, there are two main things you need to consider:
The very first question to ask is ‘Am I allowed to climb this tree?’. Some areas, such as national parks, are automatic ‘no-climb’ zones. Other areas, such as private land, might allow you to climb — but you must always seek permission first.
If the tree is in a permissible location, you’ll also need to check it is free of external hazards. Never climb a tree near power lines. Check for active nests, such as wasps, bees or hornets — even birds and marsupials can be a threat if they become territorial.
Finally, think about how easy it will be to access the tree. Is it in your own yard, a nearby park, or a distant forest? Will it require an easy stroll on a hiking trail, or a challenging trek through undergrowth? Will it take a lot of time to get to and from the tree? Is the weather forecast suited for the length of time you’ll need? For some, a more complicated journey is part of the fun; for others, the goal is simply to find a relaxing climb. Make sure you choose a tree suited to your needs.
There are several other important safety factors that you must keep in mind when choosing a tree for climbing.
You’ll need a strong, healthy tree. Trees with diseased, decaying or damaged limbs are a notable hazard for your climbing ventures. It should also be big enough to support your weight. Branches should typically be no smaller than 15cm in diameter in order to support the weight of the climber.
Inspect the tree’s overall shape. More widespread trees (like hardwoods) are ideal for multiple climbers at a time, while denser trees (like pines) are suitable for one climber or a small group, as all of your rope placements will be close to the trunk.
Finally — and importantly — make sure that your chosen tree is suited to your skill and comfort levels. If you’re relatively new to climbing, you don’t want to push yourself with trees that are too high or with sturdy branches that are few and far between. Practise makes perfect; as you become more accustomed to climbing, you can branch out (see what I did there) with more challenging climbs. And make sure you reinspect the tree before each climb; even if you’ve been up this tree many times before, conditions can change and your safety may be compromised.
If your tree choice meets the right safety criteria, you can get ready for a memorable treetop experience. Be safe, have fun, and happy climbing!